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A Toast to Mary Szybist

Congratulations to Mary Szybist on her National Book Award for Incarnadine: Poems. An incredible poet, caring teacher, and one of the best coffee dates you could ever have, Mary’s speech during last night’s ceremony epitomizes the grace that can be found in all of her work.

“There’s plenty that poetry cannot do, but the miracle of course, is how much it can do, is how much it does do.” 

From issue 53, Portland/Brooklyn, here is one of our favorite of Mary’s poems.


Annunciation Cast as Farrah and Michael

[When] the man-child named Michael Jackson and the luminous girl known as Farrah Fawcett-Majors . . . departed Thursday, just a few hours and a few miles apart, they left an entire generation . . . without two of its defining figures.
—Associated Press, 6/25/2009

Lucky-bodied girl.
She fills the form assigned her,
fills it completely.

All slink and vapor,
he glides across the stage
in a mist, shirt billowing white against
stadium lights, his notes
like infant coos

Here we are, in the afterworld,
gathered around the stage.

Here they are, as they were,
when they helped make us.

And what will he say, and she,
the lights cracking open
this holy ghost party

more movement than music,

more beauty than act—

What did they ever have to say
to us?

His clear voice dollies and scags

and she throws back her
feathered, sun-touched hair and
smiles.  The gossamer strap of her dress
begins to fall and his socks
glitter and spin and
all of us, all of us strain

forward, ready for news not from but
of them

Mary Szybist‘s work has appeared in Tin House, The Iowa Review, The Denver Review, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, including the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry. She teaches at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR.

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