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Elizabeth Cullingford, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

English Honors student Katherine Noble wins 2013 Bailey Prize for Poetry

Posted: August 31, 2012
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The Department of English congratulates English Honors student Katherine Noble, recipient of the 2013 Bailey Prize for Poetry.

The Bailey Prize is a national publishing prize in prose and poetry, chosen annually "from the best graduate and undergraduate writings submitted by professors of creative and nonfiction writing.” 

Professor Kurt Heinzelman nominated Noble, who won for her poem “Orpheus After.”  The poem will be published in the next issues of Chrysalis and Logos.

Katherine Noble is a student at the University of Texas. She works for the Harry Ransom Center in Austin and serves on the poetry board of Bat City Review. She was the recipient of the Roy Crane Award for Achievement in the Literary Arts, the Ellen Engler Burks Memorial Scholarship, and a finalist for the Fania Kruger Fellowship for a manuscript of her poetry.

Noble's winning poem:

Orpheus After

I wake before morning.
It’s the weighted month of winter,
when night falls like a dead tree
and lingers like the loud silence that follows.
Nothing sings tonight.
There are no crickets purring
in the black bones of oaks. The moon
grins at no one with its perfect yellow teeth.

I remember my heart and make a small noise
turning over. It’s too dark to see if I’m lonely.
I think of the whale-mouthed
piano of my childhood, where I played
the simple melodies from Bach’s minuets
in the luxury of summer afternoons. Never
using the black keys. Of how the piano sat
for so long after those fresh days,
and the extravagant song held in its wooden lungs
each night in the soundless, empty room. It is the silence
that has followed me most strictly, but from somewhere  
behind dawn, I hear faint music again.
It may just be the sun keening  
against the dead cold. Or perhaps the sound of the widow  
across the hall brushing out her braid.
Or the sad hum of your shadow, which follows me everywhere  
but can never be seen.
 
Or maybe I am only remembering  
the way the peaches outside the window sing  
in May mornings as they ripen— and oh,  
how they sing in their untouched flesh weeks later  
as they begin to rot. And to all of this I say,
music nonetheless.

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