"That level of talent is scary," Danziger says. "There are so many incredible poets, and we're all competing for the same recognition and shelf space. I feel blessed to have my book."

And yet what for so long seemed like an unattainable goal is now nothing more than one book among multitudes. "I thought I would be validated as a poet, but that's silly because I was a real poet without the book," she says. "The goal is to continue writing, to figure out what you want to say and put it on the page. The challenge with poetry is making people come to understand, to bring to light something people didn't realize about themselves."

Then there's the challenge of making sure those poems find their readers. Jeb Livingood, her former adviser at Meridian, points out, "For many young poets, the challenge begins after the first book. The challenge is to get the second book published in an industry undergoing massive changes. Unfortunately, the battle starts all over again."

 Darkroom  by Jazzy Danziger
Darkroom by Jazzy Danziger

Danziger is at work on that second book. (Someday she wants to write a non-fiction book about one of her other obsessions, time travel, but for now she's concentrating on poetry.) She has ten poems so far, but she's not sure how they'll fit together thematically. "The poems all have to speak together," she explains. "A web forms. I find books more satisfying when you're making connections."

She works slowly, only at home, always alone (except for her cat and dog), pushing back the lingering, irrational fear that if she misses even a single day of writing, the poetry will suddenly evaporate and never return.

And so Jazzy Loyal is keeping her day job. She was in her cubicle at Brighton the day in late December 2010 when Wallace called to tell her she'd won. "Thank God it went to voicemail," Danziger recalls. "I don't know what I would've done. I had to listen to it again, then I hid in the lactation room, locked the door and called Brian and then my dad. I was afraid they would fire me if they found out I'm a poet. I assured everyone that there's no money in it."

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