The Hopper Poetry Prize
We are pleased to announce that Ralph Black is the winner of The Hopper Poetry Prize for his manuscript Games That Crows Play, which will be published by Green Writers Press in 2018.
By turns tender and serious, heartbroken and filled with heart, Ralph Black's Games That Crows Play is a praise song for the changing Earth, and for the families—human and otherwise—who populate it. In the opening poem, he tells us with trademark frankness and honesty, "You know what a torn shirt/the world's become." And yet, by the time we finish this astounding collection, we ourselves have become more "wired to the real," attuned again to the undeniable truth and beauty all around us, like "bright-eyed mystics of leaf / and bud and floating seed, clinging and clung to, and all of a piece." Those readers lucky enough to spend time with Games That Crow Play will find pieces of these poems floating up later in the mind like the favorite lines to a hymn or psalm meant to make everyday life on this often-trying planet all the more bearable, and all the more holy.
—James Crews, author of Telling My Father
Ralph Black has published a collection of poetry, Turning Over the Earth, from Milkweed Editions, and a chapbook, The Apple Psalms. He is the recipient of the Anne Halley Poetry Prize from The Massachusetts Review and the Chelsea Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in The Georgia and Gettysburg Reviews, Orion, Southern Review, West Branch, and elsewhere. He lives in Rochester, NY, and teaches literature and creative writing at The College at Brockport, State University of New York. Enjoy his poem "Apiarial," from Games That Crows Play, below.
My daughter can’t sleep
for the vanishing bees. She slumps
down the stairs dazed
as a sleepwalker, a stargazer
trailing a swarm of bad dreams.
She drifts without moving into
the moon-slatted light
of the sloping yard. She can’t sleep
as the bees disappear from
the pecan groves of Georgia, from
the blackberry fields of Maine,
from the pear orchards of central China.
She turns from vibrating dreams
of bee-shadows and bee-shrouds,
as scientists parse the broken-down
machinery of bees, small children
in their front yards looping
endless chains of clover. Until
the bees reappear, lining up
along the branches of the linden, her
story-laden tree. They park there,
fifty on one branch, a hundred
on another, a fleet of tiny buses
idling into the future. She knows
about compound eyes, their
seven-thousand hexagonal lenses.
She knows how those tiny windows
help orchestrate the light:
a thousand shifting facets, a million
maps danced into the air.
The night is filled with zithering,
and a girl who carries inside her
the violet hum of meadows,
a steady, quickening blur.