Mark Jarman’s new book, Bone Fires, wins 2011 Balcones Poetry Prize

Mark Jarman’s book, Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems, has won the 2011 Balcones Poetry Prize, awarded by the Balcones Center for Creative Writing at Austin Community College to recognize an outstanding book of poetry published the previous year.

The judges noted that Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems collects poems from Mark Jarman’s eight previous books along with a generous selection of new poems. They cited the title poem, recalling the original meaning of “bonfire” as a religious ritual to ensure the return of light from the darkness of winter, which, they found, points to the essentially spiritual nature of Jarman’s lifelong poetic quest. They were impressed by the “clarity and simplicity of his diction, the musicality and cadence of his voice and keenness of perception in which ordinary experience is rendered luminous and the extraordinary, transcendent.” “The language is simple and straightforward, but beautifully rendered and able to show complicated ideas and feelings as if they were tangible things.” He “listens like truth”…and offers poems that are “nothing less than the soul’s labour, it’s singing.”

Former winners of the Balcones Poetry Prize include Chase Twichell, Arthur Sze, and Reginald Gibbons.  The four finalists for the 2011 award were:

  • Songs of Unreason, Jim Harrison (Copper Canyon Press)
  • Space, In Chains, Laura Kasischke (Copper Canyon Press)
  • The Politics, Benjamin Paloff (Carnegie Mellon University Press)
  • The World Falls Away, Wanda Coleman (University of Pittsburgh Press)