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Vermont Senior Wins English Department’s Wainwright Prize for Poetry

Dacota Pratt-Pariseau
Dacota Pratt-Pariseau

Dacota Pratt-Pariseau from Grand Isle has won the English Department’s annual prize for best poem by a graduating senior, named in honor of Professor Benjamin B. Wainwright, who taught at the university from 1925 to 1963.

The anonymous poetry submissions were judged by acclaimed poet A. Van Jordan, professor in the University of Michigan's Graduate Creative Writing Program. Jordan is the author of four books of poetry, The Cineate, Rise, M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A and Quantum Lyrics. Among other awards, he has received the Whiting Award, the Annisfield-Wolf Book Award, the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award and the Pushcart Prize.

Pratt-Pariseau won for her poem “Abandoned Cottage.”

“Beyond the inventive figurative language and the re-invention of fable, Van Jordan wrote of the work, “this poem offers a surprise in every line. There’s also a control over syntax here that manages to calibrate both the tone and the lyrical progression of the poem. This is a wonderfully original voice that makes folklore new again.” 

Pratt-Pariseau was recently accepted into New York University's Creative Writing Program. Last summer, she was chosen to work as an intern at Copper Canyon Press in Port Townsend, Wash., one of the most prestigious publishers of poetry in America.

Jonathan David Lott was named first runner-up for his poem, "In the Shadow of St. Paul's." The two will be recognized at a departmental honors ceremony on Friday, April 25 at 3:30 p.m. in John Dewey Lounge.

Abandoned Cottage

She was a foolish girl, says the discarded apple
on the swept, wooden floor in the cottage;
a beautiful girl too, says the rose bronze
across her cheekbones; and an attentive, man-loving girl,
says the mirror with a shattered back
beneath the window, yellowed with moon;
but not a girl of intuition, says the door
opened with ease.

Dwarves lived with her, says the seven pairs
of boots drying near the hearth and the pick-
axe propped against the wall, and they were cared for,
says the empty brass bowls on the kitchen table.
Time was inevitable, says the broken lock on the gate
and the fence in the back yard.
And the night was content, says each unmade bed.
I was loved here, say the wilted tulips on the mantle.

Something went wrong, says the empty cottage
in the fauna-filled yard. Carrots in the garden
say she loved rabbits; the pie on the window-
sill says she was ready for supper.
And the dwarves? They’re still singing in the mines
as if the pot roast will be waiting— an apron,
a loaf of bread that’s in the oven,
a pepper shaker. Something went wrong, they say.

Read about 2013 Wainwright winner George Krikorian.