The inaugural Carolyn Bush Award winner is Rachel James, with her manuscript An Eros Encyclopedia to be published in Spring 2021.
Rachel James is a poet and artist. She has presented her work in the United States, Canada, and Europe including at Miguel Abreu Gallery, The Poetry Project, Essex Flowers, Spectacle, The New Gallery, and Totaldobže.
In An Eros Encyclopedia, Rachel James writes: “If I say everything I will be unhappy, but what is the right amount to say.” Such statements, penetrating and direct, punctuate a manuscript that brims with elusive, recursive, complicated, and complicating anecdotes, factoids, and discursions on the hydra-headed topic of desire. To want to be happy; to want to speak; to want to say enough; to not want to say too much; to desire; to desire in the right way, the right amount: these are the concerns of An Eros Encyclopedia as it traces various histories of power and intimacy. How, in other words, under patriarchy, against misogyny, within capitalist strictures, does desire function? Or, again, in James’ own words: “I am attempting to write that desire is the atmosphere of a life.”
Photo: Rachel James
About the Carolyn Bush Award
The Carolyn Bush Award aims to support innovative, hybrid, and cross-genre work that contributes to expanding the discourses and practices of poetry. The award honors the life and work of Wendy’s Subway Co-Founder Carolyn Bush by providing in-depth support to an early-career and emerging female-identifying writer.
This award has been established in honor of founding member of Wendy’s Subway, Carolyn Bush (1990-2016). In honoring Carolyn and continuing her legacy, we seek to acknowledge her fiercely particular approach to learning, writing, and collaborating. Carolyn chose her own path and followed her own schedule. She was wary of formal education but sought out workshops, reading groups, and informal collectives where learning is enacted relationally, as a form of exchange and intimacy. She engaged mentors but was skeptical of received wisdom of any kind. Her library included poetry and fiction, mystical and religious texts, feminist theory and biography, and idiosyncratic curricula including a collection of texts on the limits of language itself. The poetry and essays she left us are densely allusive, hybrid in forms, galvanized by her concern with social and political justice, and alive with the curiosity and irreverence for which she was famous and beloved. She loved truth-tellers, and was one.
The next application cycle will open in July 2020.