The Hopper Poetry Prize

AUGUST 2017

We are pleased to announce that Joe Jiménez is runner-up of The Hopper Poetry Prize for his manuscript Beastlight.
 

Beastlight offers an ars poetica of what it means to write tierra, or to write the land, South Texas, from where the speaker comes. Populated by armadillos and mesquites and chupacabras and deer, the collection is not just a call to the "stone, bird, dust, cloud," but also a "song for uprootedness," a callback to the US positioning of land as villain, as culprit, as cause of death for so many crossing to enter this country in hopes of a better life. In so many ways, Beastlight is an "anthem for the abandoned."

 
Joe Jiménez is the author of The Possibilities of Mud (Korima 2014) and Bloodline (Arte Público 2016). Jiménez is the recipient of the 2016 Letras Latinas/Red Hen Press Poetry Prize for the book Allegory, Rattlesnake, which will be published in 2019. His essays and poems have recently appeared in Iron Horse, RHINO, Gulf Stream, Waxwing, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, and on the PBS NewsHour and Lambda Literary sites. Jimenez was recently awarded a Lucas Artists Literary Artists Fellowship from 2017-2020. He lives in San Antonio, Texas, and is a member of the Macondo Writing Workshops. For more information, visit joejimenez.net. Enjoy an excerpt from his poem "Still Life of a Monte Unwilling to Be Anyone's Death" from Beastlight, below.

Still Life of a Monte Unwilling to Be Anyone’s Death

1. No one can tell you the sound of the wound. Fire language. Echo tomb of last epoch’s trees.

2. But they were here & they were there & everywhere you look you are breathing. A song for unrootedness. A syllable for a leaf knowing its body undoes itself for a tree & only for that tree.

3. I cannot possibly expect the coyotes to save anyone. They are coyotes & they do what coyotes are supposed to do.

4. Along a horse trough, leaning into a mesquite, poking the tongue with a thorn, sucking a cactus paddle, the old Gatorade bottle dry as a stone. Trust does not thank itself for coming. See the bottoms of the feet, the spine of the tongue after the tongue’s body falls out.

5. Stone, bird, dust, cloud.

6. The first night wasn’t a night at all. Ask any darkness. Better yet, ask any light.

7. Good man at church said, Thou shalt not kill.

8. Mary & Joseph, & Christ’s small body: If you build a wall, they won’t come? 

9. The voice is holy. The wind has a voice. Armadillos, coneflowers, jimsonweed & white pricklepoppies, too.

10. No one has to die. Imagine that. Imaginete. 

11. The idea of a mass grave. The idea of a man. The idea of a woman. A child. The idea of a thirst so great it unbodies. The idea of the body not being a body. Idea of them. Idea of allowing suffering. The idea of causing suffering. The idea of looking the other way. The idea of a prayer.

12. Deer tracks, coyote tracks, armadillo tracks, human tracks.

13. Do not live longer & do not prosper. A gathering of red-faced birds. Anthems for the abandoned.

14. Shallow means shallow. Unmarked means unmarked. A grave is always a grave.

15. Define kill. Define Thou.

16. Ask any wound.

 Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons