The Hopper Poetry Prize
We are pleased to announce that Charity Gingerich is the winner of The Hopper Poetry Prize for her manuscript After June.
To pay witness to beauty, to enact wonder—these are political acts, particularly when political debacles and social injustices perpetuate and call upon our rage and despair with heart-wrenching regularity. After June enacts both beauty and wonder in its meditations on open-heartedness, curiosity, and desire. In these poems, thirst becomes “a sort of bravery,” and spring wears its “quilted ache of longing that is each burst of daffodils.” However, the poems examine not only the natural world—they are abundant in their blooms and bugs, flush with “milkweed and thistle, joe-pye weed and clover”—but also spirit: what animates life’s myriad iterations? What binds them together? Charity Gingerich delves into these questions, through investigating the nature of language, of singing and art, of home and departure from it, of transformation and loss in poems that are lush and intelligent, innocent yet deft.
So often when I think of the earth, I am burdened by my anxiety about climate change and the many ways we enact violence on the land and on each other; in After June, Gingerich offers me her fervent yet steady devotion as antidote to this despair, assuring me we could “build a butterfly, / as if it were a house we could finally live in.” This is a marvelous, finely tailored collection.
—Amie Whittemore, author of Glass Harvest
Charity Gingerich is from Uniontown, Ohio, where she has been teaching literature and creative writing as an adjunct at the University of Mount Union. She taught writing at West Virginia University from 2008-2014, where she also obtained her MFA. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, Arts & Letters, Ruminate, and FIELD, among other journals. She was a 2016 Tennessee Williams Scholar in poetry at the Sewanee Writer’s Conference. When not writing and teaching, she sings with various choral groups. Enjoy her poem "The Afterlife of Lepidoptera," from After June, below.
The Afterlife of Lepidoptera
The heart by definition is an agrarian tapestry
with an up-welling brook at its center,
hedges of forsythia, chickens, room for violets.
To believe otherwise is to bolt the fence
in the pasture behind you where the moonlight ends
and the farmer’s prize bull begins;
the heart dies a little every day for lack of tending.
Let’s get back to the business
of milkweed and thistle, joe-pye weed and clover;
when have you last caught a Diana fritillary,
Beloria bellona, black swallowtail or painted lady
for the sheer joy of its wings,
for the experience of learning how they work,
the webs and scales of their flying jewel bodies
in the meadows between two farms—when have you last
stood in such a place, stood still, and not
merely thought of standing there, paper doll
with her paper moon on a backdrop of imaginary
Listen, the snow is falling. White roses
filling the air. I believe this is a reminder—
that when death comes it will be our longest moment
of suspension. The air we swim through
thick with the pieces-of-us, not as brokenness
but as an invitation to finally stop; we’ll build a butterfly,
as if it were a house we could finally live in.