There are few things in this mortal life that rival the richness of the written word. The elegant draping of stanza and meter, the quiet metaphor, the linguistic aplomb of syllables, the mouth feel of a particularly decadent alliteration. We can wax poetic about the poetic poetry of poetry until we are blue in the face – blue like blueberries. But at the pinnacle of human creation there stands only one other shining beacon of achievement that grandly proclaims the mankind species as set apart from our lesser mammalian brethren. You know of what I speak. You feel the warm visceral milk its confection perfection imparts to your marrow. See it now – great in glory – hand in hand with the triumphs of our pens. Yes…Pie.
Like poetry, pie is something that resonates deeply on a personal level. Memories are made in the deep dish curves of Grandma’s warm banana custard in the same way that a familiar rhyme soothes – or sparks – us with a nostalgic glow. Both rich comforts were outfitted in fine display this past weekend as Louisville’s premiere independent publishing house, Sarabande Books, honored the recipients of the Flo Gault Student Poetry Prize on Sunday afternoon.
Hosted graciously in the home of Sarabande’s co-founders, Editor-in-Chief, Sarah Gorham and poet, Jeffrey Skinner, the poetically-yoked pair partnered with an excellent list of local businesses, providing an enviable spread to honor the winners of 2011’s award. The Pie Party’s array of both sweet and savory nibbles hailed from the kitchens of independent gems such as Blue Dog Bakery, Cake Flour, Comfy Cow, Heine Brothers’ Coffee, Highland Coffee, Impellizzeri’s Pizza, Lilly’s, Lotsa Pasta, Molly Malone’s and Proof On Main. No tummy was found wanting. A quietly smoldering fire, plenty of natural light and the most welcome company of a particularly well-mannered Bassett Hound provided an excellent casual ambiance just suited for the sort of poetic shenanigans I have come to expect from Sarabande’s off-beat repertoire of talents.
Now an annual Winter-time occurrence, the Pie Party venerates the winners of the Flo Gault Student Poetry Prize, a poetry competition open exclusively to undergraduate college students currently pursuing higher education in Kentucky. Submissions for the contest are open yearly in the fall, October 1st through December 1st, and award monetary prizes to the first, second and third place winners. Sunday’s attendance from 2011’s accomplished recipients included Honorable Mentions, Brice Robinson and Noah Vance – both currently attending the University of Louisville – and First Prize winner Isiah Fish, an up-and-coming (and positively beaming) Freshman from Western Kentucky University. Fish’s poem, “Remember the Sun Boulevard”, was displayed on broadside designed and printed by local printing press, Hound Dog Press.
Taking an opportunity between bites to chat with the buoyant – and rightfully so – winner, Fish described the inspiration behind his whimsical winning submission as a sudden jolt that simply spilled out of him on a day in November after seeing the most recent theatrical Twilight release, “Breaking Dawn”. While not directly linked to the pop-culture phenomenon, Fish found an inspiration in the film’s title and explored the concept of a literal broken morning with a playfully absurdist humor. “I just thought that it was different,” Fish explained as he describes his choice to submit the piece, “It’s sort of absurd, but the last line brings in the human emotion and that, juxtaposed with the ridiculousness, is sort of beautiful.” Working towards a Creative Writing degree with a minor in Film, Fish has found winning Sarabande’s Flo Gault Poetry Prize both a humbling experience and a confirmation that he is following the right track: “It reassured me that this is what I need to do”.