The Honickman Foundation

1999 APR / Honickman First Book Prize Winner

Dana Levin, In the Surgical Theatre

Trying for three years to get her manuscript published…wondering if it would simply end up in a drawer…Dana Levin was "shocked and delighted" that her manuscript won the 1999 APR/Honickman First Book Prize in Poetry. Deeply passionate about both poetry and teaching, Dana wanted to publish her works as a book in order to strengthen her teaching career. Eternally grateful for winning the prize and to The Honickman Foundation for establishing the prize in the first place, Dana felt that being a recipient truly shaped the trajectory of her life. She not only gained a long-term mentor in that year's judge Louise Glück, but also a new perspective to her own writing.

Body of Magnesia

When the door between the worlds opened
I ceased to be a ghost, I became
the blood in my fingers in the veins of my hands
I felt the world under my feet
with its nails and its splinters I felt
the salt the red water in the loam of my chest I was

No longer a ghost, the vapors were gone,
I was solid, I hurt, my wings could be broken,
it was joy, I was living in it,
I bled, I cried.

In addition to reviewing her winning manuscript prior to publication, Louise Glück remains a good friend, a mentor, and a pivotal reader in Dana's subsequent works of poetry. Glück's unique combination of total support and skepticism unite in such a way to push Dana into new territories.

Acknowledging that responsibility comes when you create something that receives a positive noticeable response, winning the prize compelled Dana to delve into her own relationship with her art, and to avoid complacency in her artistic process. Things she may not have done, she acknowledges, if her work hadn't received so much notice.


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