Taste of Cherry

Winner of the 2008 Book Prize in Poetry

The winner of the 2008 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in poetry is Kara Candito for her manuscript, Taste of Cherry.She will receive a $3,000 prize and publication by the University of Nebraska Press. Her poems and critical prose have appeared or are forthcoming in Best New Poets 2007, Poet Lore, the Florida Review, and the Pedestal Review. She has received awards for her poetry, including an Academy of American Poets prize and a scholarship from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She has worked in the publishing industry in New York City, taught E.S.L. in Rome and earned a M.F.A. in poetry from University of Maryland, College Park. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in English at Florida State University, where she specializes in poetry and literary theory.

About the Book

In Kara Candito’s prize-winning debut collection a “garish/human theatre” comes to life against richly textured geographic and psychic landscapes. These poems are high-speed meditations on a world where Walter Benjamin meets the “glitzy chain-link of Chanel scarves” and Puccini’s Tosca meets the din of the Times Square subway station. Ferociously witty and intensely lyrical, Taste of Cherry speaks to us in a language that is simultaneously private and public, sensual and cerebral.


You can read an excerpt from Taste of Cherry on the University of Nebraska Press website here.


Taste of Cherry derives its name from the Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami’s film of the same name about a man who considers suicide but decides to live after tasting mulberries. The title invokes something powerfully present in Candito’s poems as glimmers of these pivotal moments of sensation emerge, revealing layers of meaning buried beneath the surface of our daily experience.”—Katie Willingham, Rain Taxi

“In Kara Candito’s remarkable first collection, we feel in the presence of a sure, authoritative voice, an intelligence and sensibility capable of registering the complexities of the sensual life.”—Stephen Dunn, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Different Hours

“These poems are poised and raw, hard-knuckled and siren-sweet. Their many speakers confess openly to a desire to be transformed, even undone, by unmitigated experience. Fearlessly and with clear-eyed candor, Candito sings a whole new set of constellations—made of ‘the body’s light . . . the din of a hundred conversations’—into bright being.”—Tracy K. Smith, author of Duende

“Just as wry, smartly provocative and interestingly disturbing as its title promises. With this book, Candito announces herself as a poetic voice born to our landscape fully formed, with intelligence and style to spare.”—Erin Belieu, author of Black Box

“The speaker of these poems wanders again and again ‘where the guidebook says DANGER,’ and even as the poet finds terror and pain in the lavish wreckage of twisted urges, a formal clarity, fueled by a profound hunger for life, keeps asserting itself in Taste of Cherry.”—Dean Young

Kara Candito

About the Author

Kara Candito’s work has appeared in such journals as Gulf Coast, Blackbird, Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, Best New Poets 2007, and the Florida Review. She has been awarded scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and the Florida State University College of Arts and Sciences Foundation. She has an MFA from the University of Maryland and is currently a PhD candidate and instructor at Florida State University.