The Hopper Poetry Prize
We are pleased to announce that Kyce Bello is runner-up of The Hopper Poetry Prize for her manuscript Refugia.
The poems in Refugia are finely wrought and speak to the sorrow and wonder we feel now, in the beginnings of climate change. Kyce Bello elegantly braids together a focus on daily concerns—with an emphasis on family dynamics, particularly motherhood—with environmental concerns, as she grapples with the gifts and burdens of living in the Anthropocene. In one poem, the speaker worries about “how far we have flown / in our flaming wreck,” and in another, addressing a future child, writes about how “at night when we sing, // the moment our voices separate is the moment they become beautiful.” Bello’s ability to hold joy and despair in the heart at once is remarkable; her concern for drought, for lost conifers, for the world her children will inhabit and inherit shines in these poems.
—Amie Whittemore, author of Glass Harvest
Kyce Bello was born in Virginia but came of age in northern New Mexico, where she currently raises a family and works as a registered nurse. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Kenyon Review Online, Boston Review, About Place, Anomaly, The Raven Chronicles, Taos Journal of Poetry, Sonora Review, and elsewhere. Emboldened by the idea that our imaginations and language are critical sites of ecological restoration, she edited the anthology The Return of the River: Writers, Scholars, and Citizens Speak on Behalf of the Santa Fe River (Sunstone Press, 2011). She holds an MFA in poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts and lives in Santa Fe. Enjoy her poem "Grass Widow," from Refugia, below.
Say there is a cleaving that skims
big bluestem into grass-drifted hills,
the dowager’s body a-sway
as she harvests nettles,
then trembles toward last light.
In 1871 locusts covered the prairie
with the sound of a million small scissors
snipping green to its knees.
On relict grasslands in Iowa,
milkweed and owl-clover cosset
untidily into bloom.
Small mammals furrow muck
into trenched seed beds, and I,
I am full of babies.
My breast tunes its small ear
to a particular bawl
drawn from crested ridges.
The land widens, curves, reduces.
There are departures that leave no question
as to who is left behind,
and with how little.
The body barrowed, the body split, the body leaping
in star shapes,
flecked in bergamot.
The prairie once rolling, now gamboling,
no longer asleep.