Ian Burnette, a junior at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, South Carolina, took first place in this year’s Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers presented by The Kenyon Review. Burnette’s poem “Full Blood” was selected by KR Poetry Editor David Baker from over 500 submissions. In winning the prize, Burnette receives a full scholarship to attend KR’s 2013 Young Writers summer program. His poem will also appear in the Fall 2013 issue of The Kenyon Review.
Anne Hucks, a junior at South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, South Carolina, was named a runner up for her poem “Mobile.”
Also named a runner up was Alicia Lai, a junior at State College Area High School in State College, Pennsylvania, for her poem “Saung.”
Both Hucks and Lai will receive partial scholarships to KR’s 2013 Young Writers summer program and see their poems published in the Fall 2013 issue of KR.
The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize recognizes outstanding young poets and is open to high school sophomores and juniors. This year’s contest was the ninth annual and attracted submissions from students across the country and abroad. The selection process involved a panel of students from Kenyon College as well as KR editors. The contest is named in honor of Patricia Grodd in recognition of her generous support of The Kenyon Review and its programs, as well as her passionate commitment to education and deep love for poetry.
–By Ian Burnette
On Friday morning
I drive aunt Alé to her job
where she decorates cakes
for little more than the cab fare
it takes to get there.
She does not cry
in the car as she did
the night before, when she
cooked her famous stew
for us, when the kitchen counter
was strewn with garlic cloves,
ginger thumbs, and finger chilis,
the legs and arms and cheeks
of Kentucky steer, but
sits straight faced as we
shoot across country roads and
pass burnt out schoolhouses.
I imagine she is
praying to the holy
temple of my uncle’s colostomy,
because she knows as well as I
how even the strong people
tend to run out into a pool of
unwound gossamer, a roll
of ticker tape that stops ticking
sooner or later.
Finally I ask her if she
is doing okay, and I know what
we both consider—her peeling
trailer home and the medical
expenses, the year she was homeless
because my uncle’s father
didn’t want a Gook in the house.
Tonight when I tell Aunt Alé
goodbye, I will hug her small shoulders
and feel the world shifting its weight
from foot to foot,
as if she is the only one of my family
who knows it, and then I will realize again
her life is not just a series of
unfortunate events, but something
more than I could ever understand—
how she knows these rolling
hills of haunted-blue, the cold water and
hollow-bellied barns, and
the way everyone who stumbles
across the veined edges of Lake Cumberland
seems to find some kind of light
in her part of the world.