NEA Literature Fellowships

Angie Estes

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(2007 - Poetry)


                      after Bernini

She's the crème de la crème, la crème
God's coeur, pure
as butter under the painted sky,
and He, the light falling always
from an unseen source, narrowing
in gilded shafts to pierce
her heart a second time: l'éclair
, flash of lightning, pastry so light
it's pâtisserie. No wonder St. Teresa's
in ecstasy--is it architecture, sculpture
in the round, relief? In my Father's house
are many mansions
, the many-chambered rose
religieuse at Ladurée, which only proves
Pascal was right--that faith in God is reasonable
because revelation can be comprehended
only by faith, which is justified
by revelation. The icing of the religieuse
flows like the folds of a nun's
habit, her robes let loose
like the word for
peony, many-chambered world
without end, each appoggiatura
the opposite of apology--not amenable,
without amends, no amen.

Angie Estes is the author of three books of poems, most recently Chez Nous. Her second book, Voice-Over, won the FIELD Poetry Prize and the Alice Fay di Castagnola Prize from the Poetry Society of America. Her first book, The Uses of Passion, received the Peregrine Smith Poetry Prize. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the California Arts Council, and the Ohio Arts Council, and was awarded a 2005 Pushcart Prize.

Photo courtesy of the author

Author's Statement

I am deeply grateful to The National Endowment for the Arts for this fellowship, which will provide the opportunity for uninterrupted work towards completion of my fourth book of poems, a collection that explores language -- in its unspooling of sound, music, and etymology -- and the palimpsests and exchanges of experience that it both creates and manifests. Thanks to the NEA for providing the support and time -- to live, read, and write -- that make art possible.