Prizewinner of "Helen Kay Chapbook Poetry Prize" in 2011

Judith Sornberger

Judith Sornberger’s poetry collections include Open Heart (Calyx Books) and four previous chapbooks: Judith Beheading Holofernes and Bifocals Barbie: A Midlife Pantheon (both from Talent House Press), Bones of Light (Parallel Press), and The Hard Grammar of Gratitude (winner of the 2010 Tennessee Chapbook Prize and published in Poems & Plays as an interior chapbook). Originally from Nebraska, she lives on the side of a mountain in north-central Pennsylvania with her husband, the writer Bruce Barton, a shih-tzu named Brigit, and a bear-chasing cat named Billy Bob. She teaches English and directs the Women’s Studies Program at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania.

Winner of the 2011 Helen Kay Chapbook Poetry Prize

Wal-Mart Orchid by Judith Sornberger

Read the full text of Wal-Mart Orchid

If only we could—can we?—connect to one another and to the world we’ve been given as these poems connect, then
“the brief campfire of our laughter could call others who are…trying to find their way by knife-glint through our cities, to create a tribe and language out of gunshot and graffiti.” –Marjorie Saiser, author of Beside You at the Stoplight (Little Bluestem Award) and Rooms

Sornberger writes with grace and tenderness of the many things that divide us, such as class, gender, and education, and the small things that bring us together. . . of the empathy that is possible in the fragile moments when our lives intersect, even against the depersonalizing backdrop of commercial monoliths like Wal-Mart. –Louise A. Blum, author of Amnesty and You’re Not From Around Here, Are You?

In beautifully lyrical language, infused with clarity and insight, Sornberger takes us inside this most American phenomenon, reminding us that we are all connected, perhaps most deeply when we imagine ourselves apart. These are poems the world needs. –Alison Townsend, author of Persephone in America

The speaker patrols a daily life of frustration, conflict, casual hostilities and ever-mounting culpability, but she refuses despair. . . and continue(s) her necessary mission: “to keep seeing what cannot be / and spreading its gospel.” –Gaylord Brewer author of The Martini Diet and Give Over, Graymalkin.

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