Last April I was delighted and surprised to have been awarded the UCLA Library's Campbell Student Book Collection Award, receiving the First Prize among Graduate Students. I had seen the signs for the competition around the library and thought that it would be amusing to enter my little library of Californiana, mostly acquired through the severe misfortune of having lived in close proximity to several excellent bookstores over the past few years.
"Imagined California: A Pastiche of Places."
According to the judges, my collection proved that I was "a true bibliophile." Who'd have thought? Well, maybe the kind friends who have lent their hand hauling boxes of books each time I've had to move, but certainly not me. I never bought these books thinking that I was amassing a collection, nor did I think that I would be judged for my bibliophilic tendencies (sounds dangerous, doesn't it?). That said, I am grateful for the prize, without which I would not have been able to afford my fabulous trip to Australia this summer.
But more importantly, I'm truly thankful that this competition forced me to sit down and really reckon with what I care most about and why I'm in grad school. Since then, I've already applied this revelation to two papers, both of which are among the best I've written and may even signal some directions I might head to find a dissertation topic. Even more exciting than that, I plan to take these topics out of my academics and into a more engaging and exciting writing style. As soon as I can, I want to sit down and start writing about this state like I mean it, and once I have something worth sharing, you'll be sure to see it here.
Take it away, Jolie:
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
There is nothing quite so wonderful
As being on the Western edge,
On the moment of movement, from one then to this now.
Street lights snake through the darkening valley,
Their wires strung beyond new pavement, and
Amber pouring into the soil-thick air -
My engine sings, piston to belt;
The swing of headlights catches an evening hawk
Alighting from a lamppost into dry tall grass - and
All is glowing within the night.
A mountain means many things in many places.
Two hawks dive in Red Rock Canyon
Wind blows and rocks stay.
Outside of the window of Westwood's Cafe Profeta,
Through the lace of winter bougainvillea,
A hawk is perched on the carcass of a fattened pigeon -
Pulling and clawing at its body,
Entrails hanging from its sharp beak.