The Hopper Prize for Young Poets

AUGUST 2016

The Hopper Prize for Young Poets has been awarded to John Saad, author of the manuscript Longleaf, which will be published by Green Writers Press in April 2017.

James Crews, assistant editor at Green Writers Press and one of the readers for the contest, writes: "Longleaf is a chapbook of poems deeply rooted in place and the landscape of John Saad's native coastal Alabama. This wide-ranging and wise collection shows the poet's bone-deep connection to home that stems from childhood through early adulthood. With finely wrought images and specialized yet lyrical language that recall the best of Rodney Jones and Philip Levine, Saad brings us into his world of the Deep South, where 'the fumbled light of live oaks' mingles with 'the ferrous / howls / of valley dogs.' In these pages, memories of family are woven with observations of a natural world in constant conversation with civilization and the machines that encroach upon it. Still, Saad's poems prove that his environment can and will endure, no matter how marked with freeways and 'smokestacks belching black.' Windows still give us views of an 'anvil sky' dissolving 'over the purple pulse / of switchgrass,' and we canlike the guitar he once abandoned on a riverbanklose ourselves in 'the cutbank's slow refrains,' at last redeemed by 'the water's dark applause.'"

John lives and works in Birmingham, Alabama, with his wife and their two dogs. His poetry has appeared recently in Kudzu House and ISLE. He is the state winner of the 2014 Hackney Literary Award for Poetry. This fall, he will move to Virginia to begin his MFA at Hollins University. Enjoy his poem "Safeguard," from Longleaf, below.


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Safeguard

by JOHN SAAD

A bobcat shades
   slash pine
            along the firebreak—

the clap of my lever
turns her head.
            The shot
            opens
her breath  

            as yearlings
spring from brush
only to disappear   
   again

in the gray quick    
   of last year’s
            cutting.


Runner-Up has been awarded to Ellene Glenn Moore for her manuscript The Dark Edge of the Bluff. Ellene is a poet living in sunny South Florida. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Florida International University, where she held a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Fellowship in Poetry, and her BA in creative writing from Carnegie Mellon University. Ellene has been the recipient of a residency at the Studios of Key West and a scholarship to the New York State Summer Writers Institute. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Raleigh Review, Brevity, Best New Poets, Spillway, Chautauqua, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere. Read about her manuscript here.

Honorable Mention has been awarded to Emily K. Michael for her manuscript Natural Compliance. Emily is a blind poet, musician, and college writing instructor from Jacksonville, Florida. Her poetry and essays center on the themes of ecology, disability, feminism, and music. She is especially interested in challenging the divisions between human and nonhuman experiences—especially how a more-than-human world contributes to music and language. You can read her previous work in Wordgathering, Breath & Shadow, Artemis Journal, Disability Rhetoric, I Am Subject Stories: Women Awakening, and Bridge Eight, and you can read her essay in The Hopper, "Working Resonance: Concerto for Guide Dog, Handler, and World," here. Read about her manuscript here.