"Let us not be ashamed to speak what we shame not to think."
-Michel de Montaigne

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I won? Wait, I won! On the 2010 New York Book Festival

Last Wednesday was no ordinary day for me. I woke up and packed my trunk to the brim with popcorn and pottery and rubber ducks (a one-woman flea market), and made my way to work where I was on a committee planning a "county fair" honoring the good folks of the Emory University library.

If the rubber ducks and riku glazed coffee cups weren't bizarre enough, the news I received that afternoon certainly was:

I won the poetry prize for the 2010 New York Book Festival for my first chapbook, Little Earthquakes.

Maybe 'bizarre' is the wrong word, it was more like complete-and-utter-shock-my-throat-is-doing-the-lumpy-cry-of-a-beauty-queen-getting-her-tiara-after-6-months-of-nacho-deprivation. I had to read my name on the website two or three times to be sure that I wasn't hallucinating or developing cataracts from the inevitable diabetic coma washing over me from the cotton candy I'd downed earlier.

A note on the chapbook: it was completed in 2.5 months of solitary confinement with caffeine pressure-wash at my favorite table in the Pitts Theology library. It was completed with tears and prayer and irreverence and gratitude. It was completed with a I've-got-nothing-to-lose kind of laissez-faire. It was completed without expectation.

Life is like that, isn't it? When we truly drop all expectation, the most exciting things happen. I've prayed for months (years really) for God to open a door or slam it in my face when it comes to writing. I am not delusional. I know this prize is not a guarantee of anything; I am still unknown and unpublished and unrefined. I am still a nobody. But that's okay with me. Even more important to me than winning, is this: God's undeserved love, a prayer unambiguously answered, holding true gratitude in my hands. I don't care how cheeseball or backward that makes me sound. I don't care how my career flies or flops if I can carry that gratitude, this moment in my heart forever.

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