The Diana Woods Memorial Award in
by Diane G. Martin
Special Guest Judge, Gayle Brandeis:
“Arabian Night” implicates the reader from the very first sentence—“you cannot be bothered to learn to pronounce my name”—yet also takes us by the hand, invites us deeply into the writer’s lost world. This essay-meets-fairy-tale holds so much pain—the anguish of atrocity, of displacement, of layer upon layer of injustice—yet it also leaves space for tenderness, for remembrance of how the word “Libya” had once felt like “a warm kiss blown from the desert” before it became “a slap, or a wail.” A stunning, necessary, gut punch of an essay.
- Gayle Brandeis is the author of the poetry collections The Selfless Bliss of the Body and Dictionary Poems, novels The Book of Dead Birds, Delta Girls: A Novel, Self Storage, and My Life with the Lincolns, and a recent memoir The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother’s Suicide.