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Lee Harlin Bahan - Second Place, Able Muse Book Award, 2016

Lee Harlin Bahan

Lee Harlin Bahan


2016 Able Muse Book Award
for her poetry manuscript
A Year of Mourning [Petrarch]

Selected by final judge, A.E. Stallings

Coming soon from Able Muse Press - Spring/Summer 2017

(the contest winner, finalists and honorable mentions are listed here)


Lee Harlin Bahan earned her MFA at Indiana University-Bloomington.  Her thesis, Migration Solo, won the first Indiana Poetry Chapbook Contest and was published by the Writers’ Center Press of Indianapolis.  Her second chapbook, Notes to Sing, was recently published by Finishing Line Press.  Lee’s own poetry has appeared in Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, and The North American Review, and her translations have appeared in Natural Bridge, Southern Humanities Review, and Flying Island.  After receiving a local grant to study Italian, Lee enjoyed a month-long residency at Mary Anderson Center for the Arts, Mt. St. Francis, IN, pursuing her goal of translating Petrarch’s sonnets.  Lee read from A Year of Mourning at the University of Northern Iowa’s North American Review Bicentennial Conference.  The author lives with her husband Pat in a 100-year-old farmhouse outside Medora, IN.


Sample poems from Lee Harlin Bahan's A Year of Mourning [Petrarch]


271: Winded

The blistering knot that held me while I tallied
hours for twenty-one whole years has given
way to Death, a heavyweight whose pull
I’d not encountered, nor do I believe

grief kills. Since my loss wasn’t Love’s desire,
he stretched a new snare in the grass, heaped
fresh kindling to start another fire,
and so had me at great pains to escape.

If I’d not experienced being out of breath
so much, I would’ve been picked up and burned,
particularly since I’m less green wood.

I have my liberty again—knot torn
apart, fire out, ashes spread—due to Death
against whom brawn and brains aren’t any good.


287: Give my regards to

Though you’ve left me to bear my pain alone,
Sennuccio, I still am comforted
again, because, transformed, head high, you’ve flown
from flesh in which you were cooped up and dead.

You now can see both of earth’s poles at once,
the retrograde motion of the planets,
and how short-sighted people are, such that
my grief is tempered by your jubilance.

But I well may entreat you to salute
Guittone, Masters Cino and Dante,
our Franceschino—all that poetic host—

and tell my lady that tears constitute
a great part of my life, and I become a beast
recalling her fair face and deeds that were so saintly.


318: Genesis 5:24 and II Kings 2:11

At the fall of something that reveals
itself, as if unearthed by spade or whirlwind,
spreading its noble leavings on the soil,
showing the sun dry twigs raking the ground,

I saw another that Love made my goal,
on which the muses had me write, that bound
my heart and lodged there, scaling trunk and wall
in ivy-fashion, up and all around.

That living laurel, where my soaring thoughts
and scalding sighs nested and never moved
the greenery of those lovely limbs a bit,

translated to celestial realms, left roots
in its true home, where the one calling in grave
tones still is, and the one responding, not.

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