Poetry: 2011 Open Book Prize Finalists

This week we also feature new work from the five finalists for the 2011 Omnidawn Open Book Contest:

Anne Cecelia Holmes — All the Good in the World Starts Now
Jill Darling — A Geography of Syntax
Matt Reeck — Midwinter
Nik De Dominic — Roadsides
Trey Moody — Thought That Nature

If I Were An Honorable Person The Honorable Thing I Would Say Is Brace Yourself

Anne Cecelia Holmes

The fortress I built is already full.
I don’t know what to do except
practice avalanches, yell on
the phone. Every time I throw a brick
into a room I start to feel guilty.
I string my face to a balloon and only
part of me lifts. If you see me
wear a disguise I have little to offer,
my hair blown back unforgiving
and what I want is your life.
When I throw a rope on your house
it’s to hear you scream. I want
the place in your stomach where
the light flickers. A felt ghost
here I am, scattered from above.


Anne Cecelia Holmes is the managing editor of jubilat. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in InDigest, Phoebe, Denver Quarterly, and others. Her chapbook, Junk Parade, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. With Lily Ladewig, she is co-author of the chapbook I Am A Natural Wonder (Blue Hour Press 2011). She lives in Northampton, MA.


from A Geography of Syntax

Jill Darling

gathering light shadows naked

on peaks born into clouds

having arrived

pale anxious determination

walking downhill

for once

the flexible comfort

breathtaking curves of gravel

converse lightly around wildflowers

covering thick and spreading

fragile petals

low to the ground


Jill Darling has had two poetry collections published: Solve For (BlazeVOX, ebooks) and begin with may: a series of moments (chapbook, Finishing Line Press). She also published an essay, “The Content of Essay Form: on Reading Carla Harryman’s ‘Adorno’s Noise'” in a section on Harryman’s work in the online journal How2, and has had poems and creative essays published in a number of literary journals including Phoebe, New Millennium Writings, Aufgabe, Quarter After Eight, /NOR, 580 Split, Upstairs at Duroc, and others. She has a Ph.D. in 20th Century American Literature and cultural studies, and currently teaches creative writing and literature in the Detroit area.


from “Transparencies”

Matt Reeck

If the world is bent in two (living each day—). Our private and public minds. Or for example “good” (a crown upon the dirt street).

Elephants upon elephants carried into the earth’s magnetic core.


And life not artistic at first glance if by art we mean calibrated to the human, one person’s slant upon the next, each era backing down on the next and when (then) room for thought outside of frames vanguard & retrograde.


A book unknown. Reading it privately but then its bending.

Just to exist in public at all. That filleting toward what others think.


Matt Reeck’s poetry won the 2010 BOMB magazine poetry contest judged by Susan Howe. Bombay Stories, his translations with Aftab Ahmad from the Urdu of Saadat Hasan Manto, is forthcoming from Viking Classics (India). He is the co-editor of the magazine Staging Ground whose first issue will be released this fall.



Nik De Dominic

Here is where the road meets
the pavement or the tires
meet the road or my hands

meet gravel or whatever the expression.
There is only gravel and glass
in your scalp, under our fingernails.

Maybe. I have shown you
this wound, the hand
where the skin was taken

left here to her where something
not quite what was has grown
over it and when I rub my finger

over the wound the palm I know
something is missing. What is here
is what was left but not what was.

I can never describe an accident
because it was an accident.


Nik De Dominic lives in New Orleans where he teaches creative writing and literature inside Orleans Parish Prison. Recent work has appeared in Guernica, Michigan Quarterly Review, Los Angeles Review, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere. He is an editor of The Offending Adam.



Trey Moody

          a Frenchman who has lived many years with the Ricares & Mandans shewed us the process used by those Indians to make beads
                    —Meriwether Lewis, 16 March 1805

A siren
alerts us
to what

we can’t see,
we want

to control, but
the art
is kept a secret

into which we’ve
no entry
but need

to believe
is yet known
to but few

of them who
will show us.


Trey Moody’s first book, Thought That Nature, won the 2012 Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry and will be published by Sarabande Books. He is the author of three chapbooks: Climate Reply (New Michigan Press), Once Was a Weather (Greying Ghost Press), and How We Remake the World, co-written with Joshua Ware and winner of the Slope Editions Chapbook Prize. He lives with his wife and daughter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and curates The Clean Part Reading Series with Jeff Alessandrelli. Find him online at treymoody.tumblr.com.