NEA Literature Fellowships

Sarah Gorham

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(2013 - Poetry)

Ice Storm

Hear it fall, laughter from a train.
Under the transparent tapping,
crawl into a hollow
sleep. First comes a dream
of cocktail banter. Then crazy
clappers in a grange hall.
It makes her sad, this uncalled for
enthusiasm. Answers unlink
and veer from their questions.
Deer blink under the dangerous wires. 
Now is not the time to hope
in the smoke of night, in deep
dying boughs. She cannot feel her hands
nor find her serious throat.

(© Sarah Gorham, BAD DAUGHTER, Four Way Books)

Sarah Gorham is a poet, essayist, and publisher who resides in Prospect, Kentucky. She is the author of four collections of poetry: Bad Daughter (2011), The Cure (2003), The Tension Zone (1996), and Don't Go Back to Sleep (1989). With Jeffrey Skinner, she co-edited the anthology Last Call: Poems on Alcoholism, Addiction, and Deliverance.

Individual poems have been published in Best American Poetry, American Poetry Review, The Nation, Kenyon Review, Paris Review, Open City, and Georgia Review, among other places. She also writes essays, which have appeared in Iowa Review, AGNI, Creative Nonfiction, Gulf Coast, Pleiades, and Real Simple. Besides the 2012 NEA grant, she has received fellowships from the Kentucky, Connecticut, and Delaware Arts Councils, Yaddo, MacDowell, and the James Merrill House.

In 1994, Gorham founded Sarabande Books and serves as its President and Editor-in-Chief. She is the wife of poet Jeffrey Skinner, mother of Laura and Bonnie, and grandmother of Lucille, Josephine, and Anabel.

Photo by Star Black

Author's Statement

The NEA Fellowship has brought me patience, perseverance, and finally, great elation. I've made more applications than I care to admit, but the most recent one landed with the right poems, the right panelists, and the right time. No question, the work matters most and always will, but boy, it sure feels good to receive this kind of endorsement. And cash! Especially now that my life as publisher, mentor, wife, mother, grandmother, etc. involves giving so heavily to others. I will use the money to travel to a small village in Bernese Oberland, Switzerland, where I went to school as a teenager. I've begun a full-length book located there that revisits adolescence, challenges memory, and loosens a maddening recurring dream I've had for the last forty years. The grant gives it an extraordinary and otherwise impossible boost. The joy lies in trying something I've never tried before, expanding my usual tropes, themes, and methods. A gift this large, definitive, and rare is evidence that we can get better as we age. Thank you dear people of NEA.