The Hopper Poetry Prize


We are pleased to announce that Andrew Gottlieb has received honorable mention for The Hopper Poetry Prize for his manuscript Tales of a Distance.


We are familiar with the folkloric animal that lures a human to a strange place (sometimes with good intentions, sometimes with ominous ones); Gottlieb boldly follows each lure of an idea or gesture into its woods with a courage and stamina rarely encountered on the page. It is an admirable thoroughness with none of the threat of the resolution or certainty of a thought. In stunning tableaus, Gottlieb swells a given moment with such care as to explore its every corner without damaging it. Tales of a Distance flexes a natural, easy prosody grounded in dialogue and anchored by a quiver of expertly deployed commas. In poems that explore bodies of water, bodies of father, and bodies of lover, Gottlieb casts the domestic—its kitchens and beds and boats—as wild, and the wild as home. Rich clusters of assonance, tight punctuation, and crafted lineation seem to echo the poet’s familiarity with fishing lures, knots, and lines. This is a vulnerable and aching collection that probes the feelings of the death of a loved one as the landscape that they are. Time, too—its days and nights—is rendered as place: the day as lightscape, “There is this violence,” we are reminded, “in every light [...]” Gottlieb grapples with some of the most profound human fears and passions that stalk the mundane and routine with a measured series of motifs—coyote, fish, day, wife, father, elk, hand—that he circles back to again and again towards a dense crescendo which concludes a collection fueled by a somehow trophic and quietly urgent honesty.

—Anna Mullen, The Hopper Poetry Editor

Andrew C. Gottlieb lives and writes in Irvine, California. His work has appeared in many journals, including American Fiction, Arts & Letters, Best New Poets, Denver Quarterly, Ecotone, The Fly Fish Journal, Mississippi Review, Orion, Poetry Northwest, and Tampa Review. He’s been writer-in-residence in a number of wilderness locations, including three national parks, most recently Denali in Alaska. His newest chapbook is Flow Variations (Finishing Line Press, December 2017.) Say hello at Enjoy his poem "Late Winter: Metrics for the Indistinct," from Tales of a Distance, below. 


Late Winter: Metrics for the Indistinct     

Broad swath of early frost across the kitchen panes,
glass coated with cold, night’s final landscape
treeless but textured,
frigid mimetic for the winter ridge
distant in the dim morning.

The old man genuflects bedside
in gray light, questions
like prints trailing off in old snow.

Above the spruce, sun, not yet over the ridge,
shows itself not as itself
but as a sign of itself
in the pink flush of the clouds
that gather and shift, uneasy.

The young girl, back-flat in taiga snow,
flings arms into wings,
then flips over, makes moose hooves
of her mittens, crawls across the soft cold,
says, Watch me stomp,
then pauses, looks to the black spruce
as if something’s suddenly appeared,
is standing there, watching us,
wondering what, exactly, we are.