Monday, March 23, 4:00pm, Hobo Day Gallery Room, SDSU Student Union
Though Michael Palmer’s prize-winning nonfiction piece, “A Glossary of West Texas,” came from Lubbock–a few hours southwest of what most people call the Great Plains–it expressed the spirit of the region in a way that captivated each round of our judges, who read manuscripts anonymously. (And historically speaking, West Texas has frequently been considered part of the region–we even have a map to prove it.)
“A Glossary of West Texas” moves beyond classification in form or genre to define the landscape of the plains. A stray becomes a solo silhouette in the field at night. West Texas is a ghost town waiting for the ghosts to arrive. A windwarp is the way that the wind changes the shape of the plains into question marks and slashes. But the woman says a windwarp is how West Texas is ugly only to the untrained eye or unwilling heart of the man, an outsider, who remembers now in their absence the stark abundance in the mountains of his childhood. Images of flight abound—moths, monarch butterflies, mockingbirds, crackles, geese, flickers, and vultures who circle the sky looking not only to feast on the dead but to gain altitude for the long journey home. In stark, heartbreaking language this piece captures the elusive nature of love, land, loss, and isolation.
The essay is forthcoming in Bellingham Review from Western Washington University–quite a fine journal. Congrats to Michael! And congrats to our finalists and semi-finalists, whose work was also very impressive this year.