Sandra Meek (Colorado State University) will publish her fifth book of poetry, An Ecology
of Elsewhere, in late 2015 with Persea Books. Meek also edited the anthology Deep Travel:
Contemporary American Poets Abroad (Ninebark Press, 2007). Recipient of a National
Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowship in poetry and twice named Georgia Author
of the Year, Meek is a cofounding editor of Ninebark, director of the Georgia Poetry Circuit,
and Dana Professor of English, Rhetoric and Writing at Berry College.
Attention, poets: The poetry contest is open to active Society members, published or unpublished. Submissions should be up to 40 lines long and must reflect the
theme of the edition.Th e next contest will be for the spring 2016 edition, theme of “Change.” Entry deadline is midnight, Dec. 21, 2015, only by email at poetry@
phikappaphi.org. For complete rules and details, go online to www.phikappaphi.org/poetry.
To distinguish pattern is an act both of discovery and interpretation,
of revelation and imposition. As such, to pattern is a fundamental
enactment of the connection between self and world.
Our winning poem “Mariner’s Twilight,” by Susan Luther, beauti-
fully begins from a point of recognizing the scientific imposition of
pattern onto something that we tend to think of as distinctly pattern-
less — twilight, which has been classified into three distinct stages:
civil, nautical, and astronomical. Rather than finding this division
reductive, the poem and poet discover rich possibilities for lyrical
meaning. Part of the resonance here is with poetry itself; the poem
opens with an Emily Dickinson quote — “There’s a certain slant of
light” — which embodies both the impulse toward classification and
an opposing ambiguity. “None may teach it,” Dickinson writes, but
“When it comes, the Landscape listens — / Shadows — hold their
breath — .”
Luther’s poem is also concerned with the interplay of light and a
descending darkness, with the setting sun’s “staircase of light” and
“tributaries of shadow,” how, in nautical twilight, the “cosmos
reveals itself — /sign by sign” through starlight. But where Dick-
inson’s poem focuses on the “Heavenly Hurt” brought by winter
afternoons’ light, Luther’s moves beyond this “certain slant” to a
deepening dark that surprisingly brings us closer to consolation, for
the sky now “holds enough stars to navigate by, / to sail the night,
By Susan Luther (Louisiana State University)
According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, every day ends with
three different twilights. Civil twilight begins a little before
dark . . . .Nautical twilight comes next, when the brightest
stars are visible to steer by. – Barbara Brown Taylor,
Learning to Walk in the Dark, 22-23
There’s a certain slant of light, Dickinson wrote –
as the sun starts down, like fine-hammered gold
so transparent, if you were weightless, you could walk up
a staircase of light. Then, tributaries of shadow
that flow across the yard into the quiet grace of evening.
When the first star comes out, it’s dusky dark
in the mountains, in the small towns, on silent farms
where crickets once consorted on the hearth.
Did you imagine what they were saying in their secret
What hidden lives sheltered in the dross?
That scarf of saffron pink at the horizon,
grayblue-lavender above, then, shade by deepening shade,
more and more indigo as the cosmos reveals itself –
sign by sign, until the sky holds enough stars to navigate by,
to sail the night, after loss.