I’m pleased to announce the winner of the 2016 David Martinson – Meadowhawk Prize: The Frozen Harbor by Michael Hettich.
The poems in this collection explore inner and outer realities, past and future times, moving between them as easily as we might step through any door. These mysterious and continuously shifting realms that Hettich navigates—landscapes of memory, dream, grief, love, and hope—reveal the potential the human mind has to imagine a better way forward, a foil for the unimaginative and greedy way we have of exploiting our wonder-filled world. In fact, I believe Hettich’s poems invite us to pretend “we’re not lost”—and by “lost” I mean Lost with a capital “L.” In a time when we need poets more than ever, we can be thankful that this poet has kept at this craft of transcribing these newly imagined worlds into poems, “to sing them somehow / out of the mind / into the actual world.”
Look for the published book around April of next year. Meanwhile, here’s one poem from The Frozen Harbor:
I woke that dawn to ghost horses standing
in the trees at the edge of our field,
watching our house from the sides of their faces
and fading as I walked out through the cold wet grass
to welcome them. Still, there were hoof prints in the dirt
by the trees, and still there was a sweet smell
hanging in the first light, and a stillness.
I don’t know how to behave around horses.
But you, my love, have ridden from the darkness
of dawn to the darkness of evening on a horse,
on a thin road whose name you have tried to forget.
So I didn’t tell you about them.
Instead I let you sleep until the day had settled
into its small bodies. Your dreams had been a tunnel,
you told me, a dark seam through a mountain
where wild creatures lived unaware of us humans
or as though they were the only real humans in the world.
That evening, I cut up apples and left them
by those trees, and soon the horses came.
There were thousands of birds there too, telling stories
we couldn’t understand yet, as we got up together
and walked through the tall grass toward them, scaring them
suddenly into the darkness.
Michael Hettich is the author of numerous books of poetry. His most recent are Systems of Vanishing (University of Tampa Press, 2014), The Animals Beyond Us(New Rivers Press, 2011) and Like Happiness (Anhinga Press, 2010). He teaches at Miami Dade College.
Thanks, as always, to the many other poets who submitted manuscripts. In addition to the prize winner, I also want to acknowledge two finalists this year: You Just Have To Look Around by Doren Robbins and Fate & Knives by Maureen Evans.
Manuscripts for the 2017 David Martinson – Meadowhawk Prize can be submitted April through August, 2017.