Archives for posts with tag: National Book Award

Poem by David Ferry

I sit here in a shelter behind the words
Of what I’m writing, looking out as if
Through a dim curtain of rain, that keeps me in here.

The words are like a scrim upon a page,
Obscuring what might be there beyond the scrim.
I can dimly see there’s something or someone there.

But I can’t tell if it’s God, or one of his angels,
Or the past, or future, or who it is I love,
My mother or father lost, or my lost sister,

Or my wife lost when I was too late to get there,
I only know that there’s something, or somebody, there.
Tell me your name. How was it that I knew you?


Note: David Ferry (born in 1924 — making him 89 years old!) won the 2012 National Book Award for Poetry for Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations (University of Chicago Press).



“In order to write good stuff you have to hate adverbs.” 


 (winner, Pulitzer Prize  & National Book Award for poetry)

as quoted in The Glass House: The Life of Theodore Roethke

by Allan Seager

Illustration: Jill Blackmore, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Renowned authors Shelby Foote (left in above photo) and Walker Percy (right) met when they were 10 years old and remained best friends until Percy’s death in 1990 (Foote passed away in 2005). Writers in the best Southern tradition, the two men enjoyed distinguished careers — Percy as a National-Book-Award-winning novelist and Foote as a historian and sometime novelist. Six months after Percy’s death, Foote delivered a moving tribute to his friend at a memorial service. Here is a fragment:

One secret of the longevity of our friendship was that each of us knew what would make the other angry, and we were careful not to venture into such areas—except on purpose, which would open the matter to drumfire argument and laughter, time and time again, all down the years.”

I read Foote’s eulogy in a wonderful book — just out in paperback — Great American Catholic Eulogies by Carol DeChant. While eulogies most often celebrate the departed, they are also crafted for people still very much alive. (Eulogia = “good words” in Greek!)

Great American Catholic Eulogies is available at