Jorie Graham (b. 1950, New York City) was expelled from the Sorbonne for participating in the 1968 student protests. She has since published fifteen collections of poems, most recently Fast. Over the years, she has won the Pulitzer Prize, the Wallace Stevens Prize, the Nonino Prize and the 2012 Forward Prize for Best Collection. She teaches at Harvard.
The crown of branches which Graham conjures in ‘Tree’, her shortlisted poem – ‘full of secrecy insight immensity vigour bursting complexity’ – might also describe her own poetic. Her characteristic long lines and jolts of syntax illuminate the held objects suddenly and very brightly. ‘Tree’ shows us, too, the process of its own making: ‘The imagination tried to go here when we asked it to, from where I hold the / fruit in my right hand, but it would not go.’