“Westerly,” a collection of poems by Will Schutt of Wainscott, is the winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize for 2012. Since 1919 the prize has been awarded to “the most promising new American poets.” Past winners include John Ashbery, W.S. Merwin, and Adrienne Rich. The award means that Yale University Press will publish Mr. Schutt’s collection in April. And new this year, the winner receives a writing fellowship at the James Merrill House in Stonginton, Conn.
Mr. Schutt has a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College in Ohio and an M.F.A. from Hollins University in Virginia. His poems and translations have appeared in The Southern Review and AGNI, among others. The poem below, from “Westerly,” previously appeared in Narrative magazine.
It’s a tunnel of sorts. They’re all tunnels, I guess,
even Further Lane and Muchmore Drive,
which would have us believe beyond the sagging
split-rail fence lies the answer to an urban
dream. Not everyone who dreams dreams the beach.
For a while dead-ends are in vogue. For a while
open, uncharted cities. Years go by and all we’ve done is stare
at the ocean from one end of a mile-long lane
with our human eyeballs subject to the brain’s commotion.
This was my boyhood, if you cared: the long
sweet coastal glide to paradise. Babinski raking his father’s
field with a sprained wrist, endless ears of corn
left on the cornstalk firing out of their husks almost
edible. Memory Lane also mystifies: the sun
dwindling in a stream, me rewinding some hopeful words:
“Remembering is nice”: and all the early anger
leaks out of my heart: then and now, home and boyhood:
there was a time that was enough to make
my head spin: reading another old stiff scanning the surf
for his floating face: same thought, same forms
of thought following their accidental beeline, like the few
undying oystermen taking a detour to the tavern
off Sagg Road, where the door’s always dark, the sky still blue.