Thursday, May 26, 2016

James Najarian Wins 6th Annual Frost Farm Prize for Poetry

Reprinted from the Armenian Weekly

DERRY, N.H.—The Trustees of the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, N.H., and the Hyla Brook Poets announced that the winner of the 6th Annual Frost Farm Prize for metrical poetry is James Najarian of Auburndale, Mass., for his blank verse poem, “The Dark Ages.”

The prize was judged by David J. Rothman, Director of Western State Colorado University’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing. Najarian receives $1,000, and publication in The Evansville Review. He will also be a featured reader at the Hyla Brook Reading Series at the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, on Fri., June 17, at 7 p.m. The reading kicks off the second annual Frost Farm Poetry Conference (June 17-19).
“‘The Dark Ages’ participates in what has become, over the last several decades, a recognizable sub-genre of the elegy, even if it is an elegy of death-in-life: the Alzheimer’s poem. This poem differs from all others on this theme I have ever read, however, in its successful use of an extended metaphor, in which the poet implicitly compares the mother’s loss of memory to the aftermath of the Roman departure from Britain. The poem’s six stanzas of blank verse, each nine lines long, alternate starkly between painfully clear-eyed description of the mother’s decline, and comparably evocative reimagining of the advent of ‘the dark ages,’ with the loss of wine and oil, the abandonment of towns, the vanishing of nails and so on,” said Rothman about Najarian’s poem, adding, “The result of such a strategy might have seemed predictable, but with an unsentimental eloquence and restraint that only make the unstated pain and loss that much more powerful, the poet never rhetorically asserts the connection between the alternating sections, but simply lets them stand and resonate with each other until the personal and the historical merge in ways that illuminate both. This is compelling, masterful work, not only technically adroit but also thematically fierce and focused, and emotionally profound: an intense yet also measured depiction of destruction and grief.”
Rothman went on, “With more than 600 entries, this year’s submissions to the Frost Farm Prize for Metrical Poetry presented a tremendous range of subjects, themes, tones, styles and techniques. After spending many hours with them, my overwhelming impression is that hundreds upon hundreds of poets continue to care about craft.”
Najarian grew up on a goat farm near Kempton, Pennsylvania. He teaches nineteenth-century poetry and prose at Boston College, where he directs the Ph.D. program in English and edits the scholarly journal Religion and the Arts. His poetry has been published in West BranchChristianity and LiteratureTar River Poetry, Southern Poetry Review, The Literary Imagination, and other journals. He also published a scholarly monograph, Victorian Keats, with Palgrave Macmillan. His manuscript of poems, An Introduction to the Devout Life, has made finalist several times at volume contests, and is seeking a publisher.

The judge read all 646 anonymous entries and, in addition to selecting the winner, chose six poems for special recognition as Finalists and Honorable Mentions:
“Julia Hungry” by Hannah Poston of Ann Arbor, Mich.
“The Chromatist” by Aaron Poochigian of New York, N.Y.
“Crush” by Brian Brodeur of Richmond, Ind.

Honorable Mentions
“Memento” by Catherine Chandler, Saint-Lazare, Quebec, Canada
“Black Impala” by Jon Volkmer of Telford, Pa.
“The Undersigned” by Aaron Poochigian of New York, N.Y.

About Frost Farm Poetry
Frost Farm Poetry’s mission is to support the writing and reading of poetry, especially metrical poetry. The Hyla Brook Poets started in 2008 as a monthly poetry workshop. In March 2009, the monthly Hyla Brook Reading Series launched with readings by emerging poets as well as luminaries such as Maxine Kumin, Sharon Olds and Richard Blanco. From there, the Frost Farm Poetry Prize for metrical poetry was introduced in 2010, with the Frost Farm Poetry Conference beginning in 2015.

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