2019 Award for New Poets, 2nd Place Winner: THE NAMING by Alan Semerdjian
We’re all very excited to share with you the winners of the 2019 Award for New Poets, selected by Eve L. Ewing, Kaveh Akbar, and Ocean Vuong. Stay tuned for our winner Golden’s poetry on the 22nd. Today, we have Alan Semerdjian’s “THE NAMING”—a poem full of such soft urgency, its attention like a leaf in the wind, seeking its own name.
Sunday morning, late winter. My son points a finger
to the air, traces the single line of sun, no,
what’s in it, as it glides, no, dances. There
are others, tiny dancers to music inside the head,
no, music itself this dancing, this noticing, and wide
open eyes, stares into nothingness to make something
out of a living room, a window light, now millions of
what’s in its: a line of cars, a carousel (you say airplane,
I say moon), a platoon of birds, no, leaves pressed
against a fence in the wind. And how the breath blows
the thing, how the breathing moves everything, how there
was a time for everything, no. There is breath and breathing,
everything, still. And then I, the father, name it, and then
softly, knowingly, no, daddy, dust, dust. Nico’s dust.
Writer, musician, and educator Alan Semerdjian’s poetry and prose has appeared in several notable print and online publications and anthologies over the years including Adbusters, Brooklyn Rail, and Diagram. He released a chapbook of poems called An Improvised Device (Lock n Load Press) in 2005 and his first full-length book In the Architecture of Bone (GenPop Books) in 2009, which Pulitzer Prize-winner Peter Balakian called “well worth your reading.” His songs have been featured in television and film and charted on CMJ. He has performed over a thousand shows all over North America. Among his distinctions are a New York State English Council Educator of Excellence Award (2008) and grants from The Armenian General Benevolent Union’s Performing Arts Program (2017) and Creative Spark Armenia (2020). He earned his MFA at Goddard College in 2002 and currently teaches English at Herricks High School in New Hyde Park, NY.