Maya C. Popa – Dear Life  (smith|doorstop)



Judges’ Comments

Some good poems wear out with the reading while others have a cumulative effect on the reader – they quietly impress and with each subsequent reading acquire fresh depths and unexpected resonances. Dear Life is one such pamphlet. These are poems of transfiguration and transformation which exude meaning and significance and enthral the reader. Popa is a bold writer – she doesn’t shy away from expansive, dangerously poetic words such as love, God, life and beauty, but turns them relentlessly to her own ends. Dear Life is, in effect, a book of uncommon prayer – haunting and celebratory. Poems which demand to be remembered and enlarge us as we read.


Dear Life


I can’t undo all I have done unto myself,

what I have let an appetite for love do to me.


I have wanted all the world, its beauties

and its injuries; some days,

I think that is punishment enough.


Often, I received more than I’d asked,


which is how this works—you fish in open water

ready to be wounded on what you reel in.


Throwing it back was a nightmare.

Throwing it back and seeing my own face


as it disappeared into the dark water.


Catching my tongue suddenly on metal,

spitting the hook into my open palm.


Dear life: I feel that hook today most keenly.


Would you loosen the line—you’ll listen


if I ask you,


if you are the sort of  life I think you are.


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