In our double summer issue, we are thrilled to share not one but two books of poetry that placed second in our 2019 Book Contest: The Golden Elephant by Analise Braddock and Searching for Bow and Arrows by Tatiana Rebecca Shrayer—two equally talented yet entirely distinct young poets.
Braddock’s The Golden Elephant is a wild circus of a book populated with elephants, mice, space beasts, clowns, teachers, strongmen, lion tamers, and planets. Her poems are profound, contradictory (“You are always never alone”), dark, strange, and always playful (“Tigers are boss. / Leave them alone.”). Reading her poems makes me acutely aware of the mysterious relationship between language—grammar, rhythm, rhyme, and word choice—and thought.
Shrayer’s Searching for Bow and Arrows is about the weight of history—one’s own personal, familial history as well as the history of politics and nations—and a nostalgic longing for a homeland that both is and isn’t home. In her spare, formal poems, Shrayer probes the thin veil between the past and present, focusing on the natural world as a bridge between the two: “Drops / of saltwater / arranged / like letters / on an ancient scroll.”