This past Wednesday evening from 7-9, Women Poets at Barnard hosted a public reading where the winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize read her poetry. Possible poet Caroline Lee was in attendance.
Since 1986, the Barnard Women Poets Prize has been awarded biannually for exceptional books of poetry written by female poets. This year, the prize went to Sandra Lim, a South Korea-born professor at UMass Lowell, for her collection The Wilderness. One part of the prize is a monetary reward and publication by W. W. Norton and Co, and the other is the honor of reading your poetry at a free, public event at Barnard.
While the event was hosted on the Barnard campus and by a Barnard organization, it was open to the public. Columbia students stood in a ring around the room, because by the time they arrived the seats were all taken. Once everybody was comfortable and silent, the introductions began. Of course, there was the obligatory mention of Barnard’s 125th anniversary and the lesser-known 30th anniversary of these public poetry readings. Louise Glück, former poet-laureate of the United States and judge of the 2014 Barnard Women Poets Prize, would be reading her own poetry before Sandra Lim read hers, but first, Barnard tradition dictated that they must be introduced by Barnard poets.
The Barnard poet chosen to introduce Glück had high praise for her, and specifically spoke of Glück’s manipulation of scope in her poetry, which moves from telescopic to microscopic images of the word. When Louise Glück took the podium, her work had been rather thoroughly analyzed and recommended. She spoke of her role in judging the Barnard Women Poets Prize and recommended Sandra Lim’s The Wilderness “with a passionate praise,” saying that “it was one of the highlights of [her] past year.” She read some of her own poetry, and then turned the mic over to the Barnard poet who introduced Sandra Lim by describing the images of thawing and rebirth in The Wilderness. Then, Sandra Lim finally took the podium.