2009 Rattle Poetry Prize Winner

Lynne Knight
Berkeley, CA
To the Young Man Who Cried Out ‘What Were
You Thinking’ When I Backed into His Car

In The Music of Poetry, T. S. Eliot wrote that, “while poetry attempts to convey something beyond what can be conveyed in prose rhythms, it remains, all the same, one person talking to another.” The argument was for the use of common speech, but the concept contains much more than that. A powerful poem focuses its immediacy and intensity into an overwhelming presentness, the consuming sense that everything is happening now; through direct address a poet is able to speak to us all. So when Lynne Knight responds to the man who cried out in insensitivity, it’s a response to the lack of compassion everywhere, and a communion with those who’ve experienced it on both sides. If poetry can change the world, this is the kind of poetry that can, one small act at a time. For this reason, and others, we’re proud to introduce “To the Young Man Who Cried Out…” as winner of the 2009 Rattle Poetry Prize.

Honorable Mentions


Michelle Bitting
Pacific Palisades, CA

Carolyn Creedon
Charlottesville, VA
How to Be a Cowgirl in a Studio Apartment

Mary-Lou Brockett-Devine
Niantic, CT

Douglas Goetsch
Edmond, OK
“Writer in Residence, Central State”

David Hernandez
Long Beach, CA
Remember It Wrong

John Paul O’Connor
Franklin, NY

Howard Price
Morro Bay, CA

Patricia Smith
Howell, NJ

Alison Townsend
Stoughton, WI
The Only Surviving Recording of Virginia Woolf’s Voice