The Hopper Poetry Prize


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


Organelle has a shell-like nature: intricate, inviting, dense, clever, fractal, winding, neat, and tinged with the sinister. As with any sound poetics, Dreese digs into ethics and power with a steady hand over three parts: The Carson Poems, Organelle, and The Swallow Experiment. Her title poem, “Organelle,” insists “This is about getting to know each other / again as a planetary imperative / a cell membrane circling a globe / worlds within worlds [...]” In fact, it is a kind of “planetary imperative” that seems to drive the collection itself, in which Dreese moves through invocations, suggestions, pleas, and imperatives of every sort: “Go where words and clover / converge”; “Let’s call them ‘apples’”; “I need you to know how much I cradle / this flower” . . . their tones always weighing the nature of desire in its many shapes. A revisionist and speculative muscle courses and flexes throughout, celebrating women of science in all of their complex vitality, including and especially their vitality after death, and sometimes in their obscurity. These poems carry you along: they are wet and always moving. Organelle is a refreshing and sensual inquiry along the queer ecotones of words and things, abstract and material, aquatic and terrestrial, blues and browns, woman and ghost, this body and the next.

Anna Mullen, The Hopper Poetry Editor

Donelle Dreese is a professor of English at Northern Kentucky University. She is the author of three collections of poetry, Sophrosyne (Aldrich Press), A Wild Turn (Finishing Line), and Looking for A Sunday Afternoon (Pudding House). Donelle is also the author of the YA novella Dragonflies in the Cowburbs (Anaphora Literary) and the ecofiction novels Deep River Burning (WiDo Publishing) and Cave Walker (Moon Willow Press). Her poetry and fiction have appeared in a wide variety of literary journals including Blue Lyra Review, Roanoke Review, Louisville Review, and Quiddity International. Her website is Enjoy her poem "Young Rachel Carson," from Organelle, below.


Young Rachel Carson

In summer, milkweed bobbed across the farm
past the gable-roofed barn and chicken coop
chatter, past the orchard of apple and pear,
past my father's vanishing shadow. I followed
it to a path bordered by wilderness crickets
and rabbits that lollipop pink heads of clover.
I followed it until I heard the boats murmur,
rocking in low river surf, hidden behind fog
in the black folds of the Allegheny. Sometimes
I walked with my mother who taught me
the musical perchickory of the goldfinch.
I remember her botanizing and bird-watching
while I fingered fossilized shells on riverbanks
and rocky outcroppings of hillsides. I longed
for a language that would tell me their stories
and name the brave bones behind each
skeletal imprint. Even then, I heard the ocean
calling, reaching out to me at high tide, as if I
were a peculiar clam shell it wanted back.