The Lauren K. Alleyne Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize
$1,000. One Winning Poem.
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In the guise of a beggar, Odysseus returned to Ithaca.
A Former Life gives us poems from a sharp eye, lending new revelation to what is right in front of us, Cushing turns a sharp eye on bodies that are broken, on things that seemingly cannot be fixed, on history, and on death in its various forms, and does not shy away. He sees and records these things as they are. These poems show how the world is both simple and complex.
–Christien Gholson (author of All the Beautiful Dead and A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind)
These poems face life head-on, with grit and grace. Cushing is unafraid to face personal and public history, adeptly “playing it all.” Here we have the personal and the profound, and like the final poem, the speaker of these poems accepts his fate, whether it be joyous or terrifying.
–Terry Ann Thaxton, director of the MFA writing program for the University of Central Florida.
Bill Cushing lived in various states, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico before moving to California. As an undergrad, he was called the “blue collar” poet by classmates at the University of Central Florida after years in the Navy and later on oil tankers before returning to college at 37. Earning an MFA in writing from Goddard College, he resides in Glendale with his wife and their son. His poetry has appeared in anthologies and journals both in print and online, including both volumes of the award-winning Stories of Music. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Bill was named one of the Top Ten Poets of L.A. and also one of “ten poets to watch” in Los Angeles. When not writing, Bill facilitates a writing workshop called 9 Bridges and performs with a musician in a collaboration called “Notes and Letters,” which is on Facebook and YouTube.