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November 20, 2003

Starrett poetry prize winner named

David Shumate is the 2003 winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, awarded by the University of Pittsburgh Press for an outstanding first full-length book of poetry.

His manuscript, “High Water Mark,” was selected from more than 800 entries and will be published by the Press in fall 2004.

Established in 1981, the Starrett prize is named for the Press’s first director. The prize carries a $5,000 award and publication in the Press’s poetry series.

Shumate describes “High Water Mark” as a collection of gathered scenes, imagined interviews, lost scriptures and family photographs retrieved from the rubble of towns that no longer appear on maps.
“These prose poems follow Coronado into the disillusionment of the tall grasslands of Kansas, interview Custer on a visit back from the dead and make note of the invisible Buddhas who attend us daily,” Shumate says. “They describe the hidden machinery of the soul and examine the erotic possibilities of an accordion lesson. In the background of these poems, rivers of all kinds wind and flow and flood.”

A resident of Zionsville, Indiana, Shumate is assistant professor of English at Marian College in Indianapolis. His work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including North American Review, River City, Mid-American Review and Worcester Review.

According to Ed Ochester, editor of the Pitt Poetry series since 1978 and the final judge in the Starrett competition, “Shumate’s work reveals that the essence of poetry isn’t the length of the line but the critical mass of meaning and the speed of its delivery.”

Filed under: Feature,Volume 36 Issue 7

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