As the latest in his recent string of literary awards, Rick Barot walked home Monday night with the PEN/Open Book Award, awarded for Chord, his third book of poetry with us at Sarabande. The PEN awards are some of the most prestigious in the American literary landscape, the Open Book award being given annually to a work of any genre by an author of color. The judges' statement regarding Chord is as follows:
"As its title suggests, Rick Barot’s Chord is at its heart about finding resonances: Barot layers the quotidian and the extraordinary to explore meaning in their unexpected overlaps. A canvas, painted black, prompts a discussion of art, an ars poetica, and a personal story about an uncle facing death; a refrigerator handle and a static spark become a meditation on the persistence of memory. In Chord, everything is in concert with something else: elegant, generous, and intelligent, these poems reverberate with one another across the pages to ask a larger question. “You don’t have to understand it / but you will carry it anyway,” one poem begins, and the collection probes that space between emotion and comprehension, interrogating the limits of language to express complications and connections. The result is a collection of startling beauty and impact that deepens with each re-reading."
Rick Barot recently won the UNT Rilke Prize and was named a runner-up for the Los Angeles Times Poetry Book Prize.