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Enter the 2011
Book Prize

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Winner of the 2009 National Poetry Review Book Prize

Deepening Groove

by Ravi Shankar

 

 

 

"The poems in Deepening Groove proceed in elegant triplets that drift effortlessly down the page on waves of sound, serenely self-confident. The subjects are animals, trees, flowers, fish, the weather, and the human condition, all mixed up in a heady stew that simmers quietly one minute, and shimmers brightly the next. This is a book of savvy, delicious surprises."
—Wyn Cooper

In Deepening Groove, Ravi Shankar’s poems are small wonders of defining, seeing, and sound. He is a poet fascinated with transformations and here are shiftings of dust and sand, loon calls, flutterings of insects, changing tides and splendid cascades— always information-driven, often rapturous with Hopkins-like intensities, imperatives, and trochaic stresses. What I’m most taken by is how the poems both see and feel simultaneously: In “Dark,” “Darkness in New England has a flavor close / to anise, a texture plush as peat moss.” In “Bats,” the bats’ flight is
“carrying away pieces of us, / a maelstrom too faint to see, turning to ellipsis….” In virtually all these poems, to quote words from “Willard Pond,” there is “a sense // that the distance between the alternate / universes humans” [and other creatures on Earth] “inhabit is smaller / than ever imagined and more astonishing.” And although the poems give special pleasures on first encounters, they contain—as in “The Oyster”—“secrets that require / a knife to pry open and vinegar to serve.” Deepening Groove shows Ravi Shankar is truly, now, one of America’s finest younger poets.
—Dick Allen

Ravi Shankar is Executive Director of Drunken Boat and Co-Director of the Creative Writing Program at Central Connecticut State University. His first full length book was Instrumentality (Word Press, 2004). Along with Tina Chang and Nathalie Handal, he edited Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from Asia, the Middle East & Beyond (W.W. Norton & Co.). He has appeared in the New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education, and on the BBC and NPR. He teaches in Fairfield University’s MFA Program