CONGRATS TO OUR 2014 GRAND PRIZE WINNERS!
Grand Prize for Prose
David Garvin, New York, White Sun: Stories from Hispanoamérica
White Sun: Stories from Hispanoamericais a sprawling narrative in tapestry form, made up of stories interwoven from the various threads that make up the journeys of a cast of lost souls as filtered through the point of view of a self-exiled American in Amazonian Mexico. He is going deep in country because “My draft number was coming up back there and I was moving a lot closer to Vietnam than I ever wanted to be….” We follow his narrative as he learns how to live as an integral part of a Mexican fishing village near Merida, with its hard-working and hard-living inhabitants, and its motley crew of ex-pats. Richard, known as Ricardo by the locals, is the Heart of Darkness-like evasive narrator who guides us through the layers of Progreso, the poverty-stricken seaside pueblo that sometimes resembles one of the circles in Dante’s hell, and other times evokes a panorama of breathtaking natural beauty; where saints and sinners live precarious lives in between uneasy truces, witnessing the daily breakdowns and reconstructions of thin walls between good and evil. Through constant self-questioning, Ricardo begins to understand himself, and we, along with him, discover the reasons for his attraction to this land of juxtaposed hopeless turmoil and glorious promise. This author writes with insight and tenderness about the complex reality of unanchored lives, “of being in a place belonging to no place,” while at the same time involving us in a wholly entrancing tale of the endless cycle of loss and redemption that can turn a community of strangers into a sanctuary. –Judith Ortiz Cofer
Grand Prize for Poetry
Rachelle Escamilla, California, Imaginary Animal
This isn’t just a scientific question, but a poetic one: How does the body make sense of data? Imaginary Animal is a compendium of lyric fragments of memory, fact, desire, the sensual and the sensory. While we’re conditioned to distort or completely tune out the role of immigrant workers in the United States, the untitled lyrics of Imaginary Animal are precisely calibrated to recognize and meditate upon a nations laborers. The poems are energized by voice, perspective and consciousness. which are constantly shifting and transforming. While America, with its terabytes-per-second flow of information, largely constructs a single narrative of immigrant workers, this book stitches together a very sophisticated portrait – juxtaposing the public and the private, the imperative and the interrogative. There are beautiful, subtle recurrences of deployment (military perhaps), directions on how to reap vegetables, border crossing – that provide a kind of cinematic metronome to the poems. They anchor the dream of the Imaginary Animal. The title comes from the Raúl Zurita epigraph: “Hoy laceamos este animal imaginario / que por el color blanco “ or “Today we tie up this imaginary animal / that ran freely through the color white .” The Animal is the human; and the imaginary of the title is the American Imaginary. This is an ambitious and loving attempt to make us see both with profound complexity and a greater sense of justice. –Patrick Rosal
CONGRATS TO HONORABLE MENTIONS Brian Gilmore (“Castles in the Ghetto”) and Julia Carino (“Illuminated Body”)!
The Willow Books Literature Awards recognize literary excellence in prose and poetry by writers from culturally diverse backgrounds.
The Grand Prize winners each receive a $1,000 cash prize, publication by Willow Books, and a public reading at the University of New Haven
The 2015 Awards Season Opens June 1
Thank You to Our 2014 Judges:
Judith Ortiz Cofer, Prose
Patrick Rosal, Poetry
WATCH THE 2013 VIDEOS!
2013 Prose Grand Prize Winner: Angie Chuang, Washington, DC
The Four Words for Home
2013 Poetry Grand Prize Winner: Angela Narciso Torres, Glenview, IL
2013 Editor’s Choice Award Winner: Rich Villar, Pearl River, NY