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“I kept them all. The poems, I mean.” So writes Eleonora Luongo in her poem “Conversation with a Dead Poet,” appearing in this issue of the Bellevue Literary Review. I ponder over these lines as I write this introduction to my last issue as Poetry Editor. Since 2004 I have read thousands of poems, thousands of little gems waiting to be unearthed. I have had the pleasure of bringing some of them to the page, but also the inevitable, difficult job of turning so many away. But indeed, in some way, I have “kept them all.”

Our theme of “illness, health, and healing” calls to many people who are in the medical profession, such as one of our frequent contributors, Cortney Davis, and to those living with illness, such as Hal Sirowitz. When reading poems for the BLR, I am struck by the unique voices and perspectives, the lyrical capturings, the humor, and the words selected as carefully as each stone is selected for the building of a house.

Whether the poem makes us laugh or cry, or clutch the paper to our hearts, it has to move us to another place, a new reality, a new connection so that even when you are washing the dishes or turning the keys to your door, you are thinking of that poem, that line. In her poem “No Limits, Just Edges,” Mary Elizabeth Frandson writes, “‘Painting has a life of its own,’ / said Pollock. ‘I try to let it live.’”

We would like to thank the sponsors of BLR’s annual literary prizes. Their generous gifts go to the talented writers whose work was selected from more than 800 submissions this year.

The winner of the Goldenberg Prize for Fiction, chosen by Francine Prose, was “Trotsky in the Bronx” by Harry W. Kopp. This charming story follows a Yiddish Writers Club and their brush with Bolshevik fame. Honorable mention went to Jennifer Lee, whose story “Terminal Device” focuses on a physical therapist caring for an Iraqi war veteran.

Lauren Schmidt’s poem “Portrait of My Parents Making Love as a Stomach Virus” was selected by Cornelius Eady as the winner of the Marica and Jan Vilcek Prize for Poetry. The daughter in the poem is “witness-sick” as she watches her father collapse in the bathroom and then call to her, “Get Mom. / Get Mom.” This dirge-like poem written in rhythmic couplets takes us from the vulnerable gruesomeness of watching her father suffer to a transformational moment of her parents’ bellies swelling together to “kiss, and kiss again.”

“In Winter I See the Bridge and the Lights Are Like Keening” by Megan Leonard received an Honorable Mention. In her poem, full of caesura and breath, we are brought to a painfully surreal landscape of swallowing goldfinches, spoons that cut the side of a mouth, and a place where “everything, my love is burning in the backyard.”

The Burns Archive Prize for Nonfiction was judged by Susan Orlean. The winner—“The Crazy One” by Annita Sawyer— recounts an intense dinner-time conversation between two psychotherapists, each with a past. “Mustard Seed,” the Honorable Mention essay by Jessica Penner, chronicles the trials of faith in a young woman with a rare bone disease.

To me, every issue of the Bellevue Literary Review has been like a journey that I am honored to have taken. I want to thank all of our contributors over the years, all of the writers who have submitted their work, and all of you who have read through the pages of the BLR again and again.

In my leaving, I am glad to say that the new Poetry Editor, Jason Schneiderman, an accomplished poet himself, is diligent, community-oriented, and has a deep love of poetry and the written word.

In her poem “Relic,” Stacy Nigliazzo writes, “I collect you like clover / in the green fleck of my eye—” Perhaps you, too, can relate to these words, how certain pieces we come across in the BLR become more than something we read. They become something we experience, a part of us.

Corie Feiner
Poetry Editor