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The DuBose and Dorothy Heyward Society Prize:

Judith Reese

Honorable Mentions:

H. Randolph Spencer; Danielle Veiwers

Gospel of the Blues

He cradled Lucille, like a child

or a lover, like he needed no other

to breathe. Words slipped

down his lips over satin lapels.

Made me slap my knees,

made me cry baby please,

baby please don’t go. He drew

so deep on that downbeat,

it tugged every womb in the room.

Men shouted. Women screamed

when he bent that string,

really shook that dogleg

‘til it begged. And we trembled

at the truth of his lament—

undeniably, recognizably kin.

Oh, the thrill—the anguish

of joy pulled from pain,

when B.B. King sang the blues.

Judge’s Comment:

"Gospel of the Blues" incorporated sonic devices and was filled with incantatory power which situates the reader in a particular space and time, as if we enter into a shared memory to holler a collective amen.

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