Best Books of Indiana - 2011 Poetry Finalists

Winner: Shadows Set in Concrete by J.L. Kato

Shadows Set in Concrete by JL KatoIn Shadows Set in Concrete, Kato vividly describes the life of a young Japanese immigrant to Indiana. In poems that range in size from one line to 4 pages, Kato describes the two cultures that clashed within his own family. He has an eye for nature along with sensitivity to human foibles and dramas. I loved a poem about a parental fight where the mother “fights Asian.” Kato’s poems are concise, refer often to literary precedents, and most importantly, capture an interesting cross-cultural world.


Finalist: Poems from Paradise Valley, edited by Edward Byrne

Poems from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry.

Finalist: Seeded Light by Edward Byrne

Seeded Light by Edward ByrneSeeded Light, as the title implies includes many poems where nature plays an important part. An emphasis on human relationships intertwines with natural description to give these poems philosophical and emotional depths. Byrne brings to life an old family farm gone fallow, a visit to an inn where the speaker spent his honeymoon, and Lester Young playing tenor sax.