cover image The Pushcart Prize

The Pushcart Prize

. Pushcart Press, $27.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-916366-52-0

The 56 short stories, poems and essays collected in this annual winnowing from small presses, literary magazines and university reviews provide, as usual, access to a splendid range of current writers who offer nourishment for the spirit. ``Where the Sea Used to Be'' by Rick Bass is a powerful rendering of an oil driller's communion with the earth. Wallis, a spotter of drilling sites, imagines that an ancient basin in the Appalachian foothills was once filled with ``the sound of old waves, miles and miles of empty beach.'' The New York fast-tracker in ``What Is It Then Between Us?'' by Eliud Havazelet speaks from his drug infusion: ``The Chrysler is an elaborate spear to snag careless angels,'' as he careens to oblivion. In Tess Gallagher's ``Girls,'' a simple woman learns her past is not memorable, and the dazzling metaphysics of a ``mantic'' coach enliven ``The Era of Great Numbers'' by Lee K. Abbott. The poems, under the editorship of Philip Booth and Jay Meek, include ``Henry James and Hester Street'' by Carl Dennis, an imaginative confrontation between the patrician expatriate and ``ubiquitous aliens''; and ``May, 1968,'' Sharon Olds's evocation of an urban campus strike. Seamus Heaney's masterful essay illuminates the Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert and ranges over Western culture. (October)