A poet looks at “East” and “West” through a character known to both.

Each day leading up to the April 14 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today we feature 2012 Poetry Finalist:

Buddha, Proof
Su Smallen

Broadcraft Press
Category Sponsor: Wellington Management, Inc.

Buddha, Proof is a hand-bound chapbook collection of eighteen poems that invites the Buddha into our Western lives as someone with whom we might at last have something in common.


An excerpt from Buddha, Proof:

Buddha, Biology

Buddha has sat in the garden long enough
for his biology to seep past
slowed cells into dark, beetled earth.

Buddha has driven slowly with the wipers on high,
slapping the glass well after it stopped raining on that long drive
in total darkness; he was serious about something.

The wipers advised “panic panic panic” until Buddha laughed.


Su Smallen is a Jane Kenyon Prize-winning poet, and the author of one previously published collection.


“At times witty, at times serious, Smallen’s poetry is succinct and very approachable.”
– Minnesota Book Awards judge

“The central, recurring character is, of course, the Buddha. But others – including Barbie, and Jesus – make memorable appearances worth checking out”
– Minnesota Book Awards judge

“The West is in the process of making the Buddha feel at home. These poems by Su Smallen do just that – invite the Buddha into our lives as someone with whom we might at last have something in common. Lovely.”
– Lawrence Sutin

Su Smallen recited two selections from Buddha, Proof at the 2012 Minnesota Book Awards Readers’ Choice Event (apologies for the unintended handheld “cinema veritae” effect)

Smallen and all the other 2012 Minnesota Book Award Poetry finalists will read from their nominated collections at 7:30 pm, Tuesday, April 10, at Magers & Quinn Booksellers (3038 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis; 612/822-4611). FREE


Click here for Buddha, Proof on Facebook.

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