APP Announces 2020 Snyder Prize Winner

By Jen Rathbun

August 14, 2020

APP Announces 2020 Snyder Prize Winner

We are pleased to announce that the 2020 Snyder Prize, chosen by Indran Amirthanayagam, goes to the manuscript Last Night I Aged a Hundred Years by Peter Grandbois.

Grandbois is the author of twelve books, the most recent of which is Everything Has Become Birds (Brighthorse 2020). His poems, stories, and essays have appeared in over one hundred journals. His plays have been nominated for several New York Innovative Theatre Awards and have been performed in St. Louis, Columbus, Los Angeles, and New York. He is poetry editor at Boulevard magazine and teaches at Denison University in Ohio. You can find him at www.petergrandbois.com.

Indran Amirthanayagam writes the following about the manuscript:

In Last Night I Aged a Hundred Years the poet speared this reader early, turning my insides out on the petri dish as he declared at the end of the first poem that he is “waiting to see what face/we'll turn toward/home.” The skewering of perspective, the slant light, in the phrase is one of many throughout this luminous collection where light is refracted on a surface of absence, the water never the same when you step in the river for the second time, “when from somewhere beyond/this shawl/of sleep that slips about us each night,/ A sorcerer crow took/flight.”

The sorcerer crow is magic, death, a scavenger, a necessary part of the cycle of restitution to earth of what it has produced, this life, this poetry book where one can read life's deep background story. “ I woke this morning/thinking I was a bird/but I was simply old...I walked to breakfast/carrying an ocean...When the darkness comes/I'd like a map to tell me/exactly where to stand.”

This book is that map. I know where I stand on earth, in my dreams, as I fly with the crow surveying the land for carrion. I know where I stand as I sway to the death march “the warm baritone of the lone pine/singing at the field's edge/at dusk.” And sometimes that standing terrifies “ sometimes we are so close/to the god-throat/of nothing....the sky empties us/and we enter the room/left behind...roam the blue absence/between tell me another lie/and don't speak.”

But at least we know, the poet says, “that nothing ends here...there is always another/night/lying just beyond/this body.”

Thank you, poet, for allowing me to become a crow, for changing my face and view as I face the road home after I step out abroad for my evening walk. Thank you poet for the sounds of silence, and thank you for the lyric insight “ we have been cleaning for days...You know…As if the world were still a place/that could be imagined/And childhood a day in which/we believed./ We have been cleaning for weeks/ You know/ As if we could live somewhere/solid/ And the terrible thing inside/was nothing but a gesture/toward laughter...We have been cleaning for months/ You know....As if the home/we were making/was a kind of eye/ that wanted to be seen.”

Thank you poet for allowing us to see with your homing eye, to age one hundred years in a night of reading, of flying with the crow.

Congratulations poet for the Snyder Prize waiting for you when you get back home.

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