Mr. Davis’s Award-Winning Poem: “A Pyrrhic Symphony”

English Teacher Mr. Adam O. Davis won the Poetry International 2022 Prize.


Mr. Adam O. Davis

Mr. Adam O. Davis’s “A Pyrrhic Symphony” will be featured on Poetry International online.

Nothing to do. I sit patient as a panther in its zoo, / my brain blinkered in its box of want,” writes English teacher Mr. Adam O. Davis. 

He expressed his feelings during an experience of driving by a docked cruise ship during the pandemic in his poem, “A Pyrrhic Symphony,” which won the Poetry International 2022 Prize. “A Pyrrhic Symphony” comments on our society’s habit of belittling problems and neglecting them from a distance. His poem offered insight into our world’s many problems in beautiful lyrics.

The Poetry International Prize is one of two prizes granted at yearly contests hosted by Poetry International. The winner of both of these contests wins a $1,000 cash prize and a publication of a single poem in Poetry International’s next issue.

Winning the prize felt great! Especially because Kevin Prufer chose it. He’s one of the most original poets we have and I have such esteem for his work,” Mr. Davis said, pride gleaming in his eyes.

Judge Kevin Prufer, award-winning poet in his own right, wrote in his statement, “Just when I think I know where this poem is headed, it goes somewhere else, slipping from the ‘white dream of hospitality’ of cruise ships, into electronics stores, a hospital room where the speaker’s blood ‘is haunted by memories of rain,’ to a decades old memory of a house on fire.” Prufer went on to say that Mr. Davis’s own surprise is reflected in each word he wrote.

Mr. Davis revealed that, like most of his poems, “A Pyrrhic Symphony” came out of a free write. “That said, this is definitely my pandemic poem — or at least the poem in which I responded to the pandemic,” he chuckled. He described driving his young daughters around town to give them a break from their house, saying that, “We’d often head to Coronado, where we’d watch the cruise ships anchored off-shore. As such ships are notorious vectors for illness even in the best of times, they were required to sit anchored several miles from land.” 

Though passengers were rescued, cruise workers remained onboard. “If you looked carefully, you could see them pacing the deck and I was struck by the loneliness they must have felt trapped in those floating shopping malls,” Mr. Davis recalled. “That image and feeling stuck with me and became the door into the poem’s concern with how distance can strip disaster of its tragedy by reducing it to spectacle.”