Beth Gylys

Beth Gylys is the 1997 winner of The Quentin R. Howard Poetry Prize for her book Balloon Heart.

At the time of this award Beth taught English and creative writing at Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA.  She currently (2004) is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and English at Georgia State University. Beth has a Ph.D. in English and creative writing from the University of Cincinnati, a Masters from Syracuse, and earned her Bachelors degree from Allegheny College. She has published poems in The Paris Review, The New Republic, The Boston Review, Ploughshares, Antioch Review, The Southern Review, and many other literary magazines including Wind.  Her book, Bodies that Hum, won the Gerald Cable Poetry Award and was published in 1999 by Silverfish Review Press. Beth's manuscript Spot in the Dark won The Journal Award in Poetry presented by Ohio State University and will be published by the OSU Press in 2004.

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Beth Gylys
Beth Gylys

Stephen Dunn said the following of Beth Gylys's Balloon Heart:

Though Beth Gylys's subject matter is often sexual, or at least involves the interplay of the sexes, it was not her content per se, but her phrasing and formal dexterity that kept me irresistibly returning to her poems. There's an intelligence and wit at work here, a compositional elan; every line is infused with attitude, and her endings almost always bring the poems to moments that seem both inevitable and unforseen. Balloon Heart charms and probes, and even when it darkens it remains vibrant and surprising.

--A poem from Balloon Heart--

The Trouble With Love Poems About Men

They're not of curves and shadows made.
They don't wear skirts to swoop and tease
the eye, nor toss their hair, nor sway.
So arduous to package men to please:
a slant of hip, or buttocks tucked in faded
jeans--they lack aesthetic flair.  A spray

of curls might fan their brows, or bellies bloom
above their belts. To paint men in the best
of light requires certain skill. The groom
looks better if he's built. He'll fill
his tux with sculpted flesh. His chest
will taper to the cummerbund. Still,

what work to capture men's appeal!
A rise between the legs will also shade
and shape their usual lines. Alas, revealed,
the bulge is but a stick. We live dismayed.
It's difficult to bring men warm regard.
We try. Their love is always hard.