NEA Literature Fellowships

John Bargowski

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(2009 - Poetry)


I thought his homers
  would never return
when he climbed to the loft
  after supper to snap
the necks of the cripples
  unable to join the flock
for their daily stretch,
  his prize birds' tight circles
above the D&J Bar
  widening out over
the county courthouse
  and St. Joseph's Home
for the Blind
  while he crushed
the two white eggs
  from the accidental pairing
of a city champion
  with a handsome blue-check
who'd wandered in
  for some fresh water
and dried peas,
  a sudden fluttering
and twitching
  in the burlap sack
he'd knotted
  and carried down the ladder
as the yellowed nail
  of an old favorite
poked through
  the weave of the fabric.

John Bargowski was born and raised in Jersey City and now lives with his family on a small acreage along the Delaware River in the Skylands of northwestern New Jersey. He is the recipient of a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Distinguished Artist Fellowship, The Rose Lefcowitz Prize from Poet Lore, and the Theodore Roethke Prize from Poetry Northwest. His work has been published in Poetry, Gettysburg Review, Poet Lore, Southern Poetry Review, Poetry East, Prairie Schooner, & Journal of New Jersey Poets, among others.

Photo by Joyce Bargowski

Author's Statement

I am very grateful to be included among the gifted writers who have been awarded an NEA Fellowship. To receive this vote of confidence from the distinguished panelists who believe in the promise of my work is energizing and uplifting. Being selected by my fellow writers for an NEA Fellowship is certainly an honor. My hope is to make the most of the time and financial breathing room the fellowship will provide me to hone my craft and further my writing toward realizing the promise the panel sees in my work.