The Honickman Foundation

2003 APR / Honickman First Book Prize Winner

James McCorkle, Evidences

"Writing a poem can be rather solitary work, but winning the Book Prize gave me a sense of no longer working in the dark. I could now begin a public dialogue and conversation about art."

For James McCorkle, winning the prize also gave him the opportunity to work with that year's judge, Jorie Graham, who proposed a re-ordering of his poems.

"I call it a sequence – a way of placing poems in relationship to other poems to give the reader an experience of interpretive ongoing reading and perceiving, almost like a diary or journal. Jorie's insights have continued to inform my subsequent works. I now use the idea of a sequence as a mechanism for pacing my books and to place discrete poems in conversancy with other poems."

excerpt from The Hibernaculum

A late front browned the early peonies.
The world is always starting.
The fear of it makes myth—the chambers
Daubed with it until they shone.

And the world divided into ours and theirs.
What could be said, and not.
What was shaped from the forms of doubt.
What came out of sleep and approached, or not.

Afterward, a flow of snakes, bursting
As though an artesian spring
Had cracked open the ground. Uncoiling.
Sleep draining from hearts.

Since winning the Book Prize, James has completed three more manuscripts. Poems from all three manuscripts have appeared in numerous journals, and one of the manuscripts, In Time, was a finalist in the 2009 National Poetry Series.

"I also collaborated with the Polish painter Wlodzimierz Ksiazek on several artist's books, and was an editor of the Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poets and Poetry. This 5-volume encyclopedia came out in 2006 and has garnered acclaim for its thoroughness and balance as a reference work."

In addition to giving presentations on poetry at various literature conferences, James is also a visiting assistant professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in the First Year Seminar program and the Africana Studies Program.

"The APR/Honickman First Book Prize is one of the most pre-eminent first book awards, and I was absolutely delighted to be a recipient. I also felt a connection to the Honickman Foundation, a foundation that echoes some of the same community values that I hold dear."


Listen to James McCorkle read The Doorway on The Cortland Review website.

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