We are pleased to announce that Donelle Dreese has received honorable mention for The Hopper Poetry Prize for her manuscript Organelle.

Organelle is a feminist perspective on the global environmental movement. In “The Carson Poems,” the first of three sections, the perspective is personal—that between the conservationist Rachel Carson, whose book Silent Spring has been credited with advancing the movement, and her “botanizing and bird-watching” mother. It is the mother who instructs the girl to “[f]ree yourself of the world / that binds women / and wild creatures within it,” thereby establishing the link between the feminine and the natural world. An urgency propels the section forward, as Carson’s health fails in the “DDT groundwater plume,” “as the tired street pumps in Miami / send drums of marine water back out to sea,” as critics seek to discredit her work, “deem it a heresy to care / more about birds than business.” In the section titled “Organelle,” as the title implies, the relationships enlarge, connecting the structures of all living things, including the narrator: “the smallest cell traveling / around the world and seeing itself / in a lemon tree, dirt, a pack of wolves.” The final section is homage to earth mothers, the protectors often ignored, a list of notable scientists and activists that concludes with Jane Goodall, who “held the flame close enough / long enough, without burning it / until her light unfolded the forest canopy.”

—Kathleen Hellen, author of Umberto’s Night

Donelle Dreese is an author and professor of English at Northern Kentucky University. She teaches multicultural and environmental literatures, American women poets, and writing courses. Her books include Cave Walker (Moon Willow Press), Sophrosyne (Aldrich Press), Deep River Burning (WiDo Press), Dragonflies in the Cowburbs (Anaphora Literary Press), A Wild Turn (Finishing Line Press), Looking for a Sunday Afternoon (Pudding House), America’s Natural Places: East and Northeast (ABC-CLIO), and Ecocriticism: Creating Self and Place in American Indian and Environmental Literatures (Peter Lang). In April 2019, Donelle received the Excellence in Online or Technology Enhanced Teaching Award at Northern Kentucky University. Enjoy a poem from Organelle below.


Small Towns

They are piano keys slightly out of tune glowing with the aftertaste of starlight.
They smell of home-grown tomatoes and grass clippings. They have hoof
marks down the center of Main Street. Their stories are buried in basements
in envelopes marked return to sender. To know their secrets, talk to porch
women who wear white shawl houses around their shoulders. They know
when the babies were born, the year of the drought, the flood, the unsayable
name of the preacher man who killed his father with a whiskey bottle.
This town is a sleeping cat curled into a valley. She only flicks her ears
to keep the future away.