NEA Literature Fellowships

Nance Van Winckel

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(2001 - Poetry)

If You're Happy & You Know It

A man and a woman on the window's
glass. He touches her hair, tips
her chin. Just look at them, I said.
Who do they look like?

He whispers in her ear. Lovers,
you said. They look like lovers.
They are gray on the black glass.
Adrift into a kiss. They are us.

Below: shoestrings of light tangling
the strung-out city. People living off
angers, eons-old. Fishing the pools
of it. Thin, mercury-pinked smelt.

He and she unbuttoning each other's
shirts, unable to bear their own bliss,
their quiet inside the chaos. Overhead
a great soaring engine roars

and the window rattles, and we
resist ourselves as we are,
as they are, trembling
there on the glass.

Nance Van Winckel lives near Spokane, Washington. She is the author of three collections of poems: Bad Girl, with Hawk (U. of Illinois, 1988), The Dirt (Miami U. Press, 1994), and After a Spell (Miami U. Press, 1998). New poems appear in APR, Ohio Review, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and Paris Review.

She has also published three collections of short stories - Limited Lifetime Warranty and Quake, both with U. of Missouri Press, and most recently Curtain Creek Farm (2000) with Persea Books.

She's the recipient a previous National Endowment for the Arts Literary Fellowship in poetry, a 1998 Washington State Artists Trust Literary Award in fiction, and the 1999 Washington State Governor's Award in Writing.

She is a professor in the graduate creative writing programs at Eastern Washington University and Vermont College.

Author's Statement

The poems in my application are from a manuscript in progress, entitled BESIDE OURSELVES. The poems are set in Eastern Europe in the mid-1980's.

I was thrilled and honored to receive the NEA grant. Monetarily, the grant allows me to set aside other work for next year and live more completely inside these new poems. But just as importantly, I appreciate the encouragement this fellowship gives to the poems themselves.