NEA Literature Fellowships

Gary Short

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(2011 - Poetry)

A Lesson for the 21st Century

The ancient Romans would carve the names
of their enemies on lead tablets.
These were called
curse tablets. The custom was
for the carver to toss the tablet
into his own well. They didn't know.

They poisoned themselves with their own hatred.

Gary Short is from Virginia City, Nevada. He is the author of three poetry collections: Theory of Twilight, (Ahsahta Press, 1994); Flying Over Sonny Liston (University of Nevada Press, 1996), which won the Western States Book Award; and 10 Moons and 13 Horses (University of Nevada Press, 1996). He has been a Stegner fellow at Stanford, a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and has had residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He received a Pushcart Prize for 2008 and has been awarded grants and fellowships from the Nevada Arts Council, the Sierra Nevada Arts Council, Writers at Work, and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. A former editor for Hayden's Ferry Review, Shankpainter, and Great Basin Magazine, he recently lived in Guatemala and now teaches at the University of Mississippi.

Photo by Jill Osier

Author's Statement

I am gratified by this gift of encouragement from the panel and honored to be in the company of present and past NEA Fellows. This fellowship is the two-out, two-strike base hit that I needed. It's a good thing, and I hope to make it better by completing a fourth book of poems.

I will work hard and take the following quotation from Stanley Kunitz to heart: "When you look back on a lifetime and think of what has been given to the world by your presence, inevitably, you think of your art, whatever it may be, as the gift you have made to the world in acknowledgment of the gift you have been given, which is the life itself...That work is not an expression of the desire for praise and recognition, or prizes, but the deepest manifestation of your gratitude for the gift of life."