Announcing the Winner of The 2021 Orison Chapbook Prize!
Updated: Jan 20, 2022
Orison Books is pleased to announce that our founder and editor Luke Hankins has selected The Body Problem, poems by Margaret Wack, as the winner of The 2021 Orison Chapbook Prize from among anonymous manuscripts. Wack will receive a $300 cash award as well as publication by Orison Books.
We're also happy to announce the excellent finalist pool:
Simon Anton Niño Diego Baena, "From Now On, I Will Only Write Elegies" (poetry)
Malcolm Dixon, "Death in the Cathedral" (fiction)
Zane Johnson, "Necessary Heavens" (poetry)
Lee Peterson, "The Needles Road" (poetry)
Jen Stewart Fueston, "Darling Heresies" (poetry)
Phillip Watts Brown, "Boy With Flowers in His Mouth" (poetry)
Jill Widner, "Mina and Fina and Lotte Wattimena" (fiction)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Margaret Wack's work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including EcoTheo Review, Ruminate, Passages North, Grist, Arion, Strange Horizons, Climbing Lightly Through Forests: A Poetry Anthology Honoring Ursula K. Le Guin, and elsewhere. She holds a BA from Smith College and an interdisciplinary master's degree from St. John's College. The Body Problem is her debut chapbook.
SAMPLE FROM THE BODY PROBLEM
Do Not Ask for Metamorphosis I know just how the flesh would carve
open, like a flower. It isn’t morbid.
It’s merely practical. I am no physician
but have practiced drawing the knife
from the clavicle down. How everything
blooms outward. When the baby is breech
they do just this, remove each organ lovingly
and with precision. The body a vessel.
The baby a nesting doll. Blood all the way
down. Is it more difficult to sculpt the body
from flesh, from stone, from the more
malleable metals? Oh cold immaculate
Aphrodite, did it hurt to be born
backwards, up out of the shining wave-tossed
sea, wreathed in incestuous foam? How long
did you spend scuttling and submerged
before you emerged virginal and glistening?
Carved from stubborn stone, every part
of you struck mercilessly until you became
beautiful? I am sick of such miraculous
transformation. I would rather be a laurel tree,
slender and beyond reproach. I am tired of the constant
humming of terrible desire. I am bewitched
by my neck in the mirror, the soft muscle. Where the hands
would go. Where the knife. Where the pearls. I am not
a physician but I know the cure for this: run
the body like a sleek, obedient dog until it stops
running. Lowing and stung ever onward. Fast
and pray until a god appears to you as a bird,
the rain, the color blue. Carve yourself from yourself
like a glistening jewel, wear it on your little finger
and demand to be paid reverence. Proffer yourself
to be kissed by the hungry mouths of confused
worshippers. Pray that the egg in your abdomen
is some exalted hero, born already armored, hymns
already snaking through the syllables of their name.
Do not ask for doomed daughters. Do not ask for
metamorphosis: it is something that must come
upon you unawares, like a blow, like a kiss,
like the moment that you catch and burn. (Originally published in Josephine Quarterly.)
2020: A Husband and Wife Are One Satan, stories by Jeff Fearnside
2019: Divining, poems by Brooke Sahni