This week I’d like to share the good news that Until We Are Level Again (Mongrel Empire Press) has been named as a finalist for the Oregon Book Award in the Stafford/Hall Award for Poetry category!
I am extremely honored and grateful to have my work in the running alongside the work of other great writers. The awards ceremony is April 22nd and final decisions will be made public then.
I want to quickly thank everyone who has taken part in celebrating the book into the world, from friends who read early drafts and shared insightful comments, to the reviewers who took the time to sit with the finished product and share their read of it. Special thanks to Jeanetta Calhoun Mish of Mongrel Empire Press for giving my work a chance and giving this project a home!
To celebrate, I’d like to share “Late,” one of the poems in the first section of Until We Are Level Again. In my recent post about running workshops at the Fire Writers Conference, I spoke about the power of naming as a way of seeing. I was excited to have this poem in particular in this book because it makes use of this kind of seeing. Here, I name a restaurant my mother used to work at as well as the street it used to be on; the restaurant has since closed down. Yet, naming gone places in poems gives them another presence, brings the reader closer to the world of the poem.
Late – José Angel Araguz
In the dresses she wore for work,
my mother became the front yard
we went without. Their dense fabric
stitched with bright designs,
flowers and leaves arranged to greet
the customers of Rosita’s on Baldwin,
not there anymore, but I know,
as dense as I’ve become, nothing
matters beyond first impressions:
the apron hanging off the door;
the iron hissing in her hand,
late, but insistent to look good;
my mother’s face bright, steadfast
as light through a threadbare sheet
held over the face of a child
pretending to be asleep.
Here’s the official list of finalists on the Literary Arts site.
And here’s a press release courtesy of Linfield College.
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