Congratulations to Mark Wagenaar, whose poem, “Oculi,” was selected by Jennifer Chang as the winner of the TQ16 Poetry Open Prize.
Mark Wagenaar is the author of three award-winning books of poetry, most recently the Saltman Prize-winning Southern Tongues Leave Us Shining, from Red Hen Press. His poetry and fiction appear widely, including The New Yorker, Tin House, the Southern Review, 32 Poems, Southern Indiana Review, and many others, and his awards include the James Wright Poetry Prize, the Mary C. Mohr Prize, the Pablo Neruda Prize, and the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. He is an assistant professor at Valparaiso University.
Here is what Jennifer Chang had to say about “Oculi” . . .
“To hold up a mirror to our hunger” is the gift of this remarkable poem. It’s rare for a discursive rhetoric to be so wondrously ungovernable and still so generous to the reader. Here is a poet who balances a capacious imagination with expert syntactic dexterity. I leapt from line to line, infected by a rapt and thought-driven music, finding one surprising clausal turn after another. “Oculi” renders dislocation philosophically urgent and viscerally material, and it permits one voice’s intrinsic sense of longing to belong to us all. What a beautiful big-hearted, heart-battered poem.
Congratulations to José Felipe Alvergue, whose hybrid text, “hogtied,” was selected by Bhanu Kapil as winner of the TQ16 Prose Open Prize.
José Felipe Alvergue is the author of gist : rift : drift : bloom (2015) and precis (2017). His work appears in BAX: Best American Experimental Writing, Apogee, Boston Review, and other venues. A graduate of the CalArts Writing and Buffalo Poetics programs, José is currently working on creative and critical projects exploring the complexity of national identity in the era of national evanescence. He teaches and lives in Wisconsin.
Here is what Bhanu Kapil had to say about “hogtied” . . .
In “hogtied,” the archive distorts its own memory so that, reading, I experienced the book as an artifact printed on the inside matter of something once or still alive. Impossible paper, in other words. Do human beings produce their own literature only because they know there is something to receive it? At times, the alternative surfaces of this book stuck together and came off, and the wrong letter, or a different letter, was substituted in turn, or adhered. This, for example, is a place in the manuscript where an n became m: “Some images need coaxing from the archive. Some images need pause, a meditative withholding of their act, a mindful demonstration of what is presemt.” Presemt. That’s the last word of the book, actually, a place where time does its work deep inside what the words already, always are. The courage of the “mistake” lets me know that I am in the domain of visceral life, something that, of course, is embedded in the relations of the work: between the one who is imprisoned and the one thinking about prisons; the parent, a son; a teacher, the many students; one person writing and another person reading in turn. If somatic writing is a category of political writing, then this is that — or: this is writing that is this. I want to think more about the diagonals that recur in this book, for example. What is happening along the line of those slow, deep cuts? What receives the blood?