Resident Poet Earns Second Utah Arts Council First Place Nod

Published: February 21, 2012 | Read Time: 3 minutes

Southern Utah University’s Danielle Dubrasky has once again impressed judges at the Utah Arts Council (UAC) as a now two-time first place author in the poetry division of the UAC’s annual writing competition.

Dubrasky’s winning collection of poems, “The Sand Man,” describes the journey of a brother and sister in a small and desolate desert town. In telling their story, Dubrasky uses imagery inspired by the Southwest desert landscape, interweaving the Night-Blooming Cereus or “Queen of the Desert,” with the legend of the sand man.

The collection is broken into ten sections, each vividly depicting the pair’s encounters with a malevolent sand man and other strange objects flying through the desert wind.

“It’s a poem of understated eloquence, written in a voice like no other I know,” said Wyn Cooper, published writer and poet who selected Dubrasky’s work as the poetry division’s best. “I was captivated from the first reading and each reading took me deeper into the elegant mystery of these brightly lit scenes from the desert and the story they tell.”

Dubrasky’s inspiration for “The Sand Man” began on a lonely highway in Arizona while returning from a poetics conference. “I began to see the image of a brother and sister… railroad tracks … a desolate desert town,” she said. A visit to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix inspired the use of the mysterious Night-Blooming Cereus, an important and symbolic character in the story.

Most impressive to judge Cooper was the collection’s eighth section, which simply reads, “Tiny fronds pressed around the cereus stamen push the outer petals to open in her heart’s chambers”. Cooper believes these two lines, “encapsulate what the poem is doing on a larger scale: what happens when one person pushes against another or when the past pushes into the present”.

An Associate Professor in SUU’s Department of English since 1990, Dubrasky teaches courses in creative writing and poetry. Well-seasoned in the field of creative arts and writing, her poetry has been published in ECOllective, Tar River Poetry, Weber Studies, Petroglyph and Dialogue.

Dubrasky was awarded first place in the Utah Arts Council’s 2006 competition for her book-length collection of poems, “To Live Elsewhere.”

In April, Dubrasky will serve her second residency fellowship at the Virginia Center of Creative Arts where, for two weeks, she will work to complete a new collection of poems, titled “Ruin and Light”.

Though pen and page are her most common medium, Dubrasky has collaborated with choreographers, composers and visual artists in bringing her poetry to life on stage. Her poem “The Tree Spirits of Takasago” was performed at SUU’s annual faculty dance show.

Dubrasky holds a PhD in creative writing from the University of Utah and earned her Master’s degree in English from Stanford University.

Since 1958, the Utah Arts Council has invited writers from across the state to submit their unpublished works for consideration in the annual competition. Entries range from fiction and nonfiction to essays, short stories, poems and manuscripts.

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