NEA Literature Fellowships

Laurie Saurborn Young

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(2015 - Poetry)


Collarbone broken & then I am pushed

Hard off the boat. This is America.

If entry is not desired, take that door away.

You want to say I deserved it

Which is often what people think

When force is brought against a woman's

Smaller frame. Diplomatic, I desire little

Cows in a range of shapes:

Miniature but representative

Lowing in a field outside Hershey, PA.

Faint purple smudges under his dark eyes.

Sound of a dog's feet in the grass.

This is Humbert, taping a note to Rita's belly.

Bioluminescence of the highway at night,

What is America?

Four years later she listened to the mixtape

In the parking lot at Snuffer's Restaurant and Bar:

Girl, don't go away mad. Girl, just go away.

Inside I pin my hair up & the bartender

Turns & says to my boyfriend, Oh, now I see.   

Texas in winter is a silver caul stretched

Thin and babies born into not enough

Jobs not enough medicine not enough water.

(First appeared in the journal Forklift, Ohio, and was later published in a chapbook, Patriot (Forklift, Ink., 2013)

Laurie Saurborn Young is the author of two poetry collections, Carnavoria (H_NGM_N BKS, 2012) and the forthcoming Industry of Brief Distraction (Saturnalia Books, 2015), as well as a chapbook, Patriot (Forklift, Ink., 2013). Her poems, fiction, essays, reviews and photographs have appeared in such publications as American Microreviews and Interviews, Denver Quarterly, jubilat, The American Reader, The Rumpus, and Tupelo Quarterly. She holds an MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, and has been awarded residencies at Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts and Madroño Ranch: A Center for Writing, Art, and the Environment. A self-taught photographer, she has worked on assembly lines and in the mental health and hospice fields. She has taught poetry writing and composition at the college level, and creative writing to elementary and middle school students. Born in Delaware, raised in North Carolina, she has lived in Massachusetts, California, and upstate New York, and now resides in Austin, Texas.

Photo by Photo by Patti James

Author's Statement

When I finally committed to a writing practice, I was almost thirty and had many years of false starts, doubts, and dead ends behind me. I knew that more lay ahead. At this stage in my career, this award is an immense, invaluable reinforcement of my passion and commitment to my life as a writer, one for which I have had to make many sacrifices in terms of job security and conventional family life. It's an honor to be recognized on this scale, and to know that the risks I take in my writing—ones that in other countries I might be condemned for, instead of celebrated—are ones fundamentally worth pursuing.

A photographer as well as a writer, over the past several years I have been investigating the relationship between text and image. In combining the two, I hope to expand upon their unique narrative and associative capabilities. As witnesses to the read, the heard, and the seen, we are all compelled, driven, and asked to speak up, to speak back. This generous grant will allow me the time and space to continue my examination of this creative intersection, and to further explore what it is to be a woman writing in twenty-first century America.