Finley Bullard Evans
2014 Chapbook Contest Winner


When I kissed you good-bye
in the hospital (the day they gave you six months),
it was clumsy and quick,
a spitfire exit on the way to the next thing.
I think we both knew we would not
see each other again. There was a little flash
not of fear or terror in your eyes,
but of recognition, as if you'd seen it before,
the kind of leaving.
Our goodbye was not mournful
or overplayed as if to the last drop of life.
It was perfectly underwhelming,
as are most goodbyes between friends.

© 2014 Finley Bullard Evans

Author Biography

Finley Bullard Evans was born and raised in Chattanooga, TN. She is the author of a memoir, Two of Em In There: A Southern Writer’s Journey to and Through the First Year of Twin Motherhood, and a poetry chapbook, Third Girl. She divides her time unevenly and joyfully between writing poetry, spending time with her husband and twin sons, Max and Harry (age 11), and attempting to manage the well-being of their household, which also includes their two dogs, Thelma Lou and Fife.

Critical Response

There’s only one word for love in the English language. So we write poetry—to fill in the gaps of what we know love to be. Finley Bullard Evans’ new collection, Ours, is a necessary compendium for anyone brave enough to transcend the limitations of a one-size-fits-all definition of such a crucial word. These poems offer up a love that tacks back and forth between grief and joy. We meet love that sustains, loves that die. Love that is fierce and tender, sure-footed and shaky. Loves that soar and loves that crash, shattering things—families, faiths, identities—and then mending them, making them if not whole again then new and ready for what’s next. Here we find the love of friends, mothers, perfect strangers. We find a love that leads us “into a vast, painted wilderness [we] have never seen,” and, yes, the enduring love that shows us the way back.

—T.J. Beitelman

No explanations in Finley Evans’ poems: explanations are reductive and easy. There are no strict depictions either, just moments of revelation, acts of emotional intelligence, negative capability and presence. The book lives in spite of [because of] the elegiac tone. It has joy flashes among its rivenness. There is light that shimmers and light like Dickinson’s that has the “heft of cathedral tunes.” Most of all this collection is remarkable in its interest in the “way back”: that place of transport and consciousness [dark, wild] that looks in the opposite direction even as it is propelled forward into “something beautiful.”

—Bruce Smith


©2015 Longleaf Press at Methodist University | Fayetteville, NC