Poetry: Finalists of Omnidawn’s 2016/17 Open Poetry Book Contest

This month we feature new work from the five finalists of Omnidawn’s 2016/17 Open Poetry Book Contest:

T.J. Anderson III – Devonte Travels the Sorry Route
Carol Ann Davis – Of the Unrecorded Miracle
Nicholas Gulig – Orient
Angelo Mao – Abattoir
M.A. Vizsolyi – The Common Index of Poetic Lines

The Impossible Suture

T.J. Anderson III

Music arises out of darkness
as does breath
in fact, is it.
black & w/hole if we
but listen.
            wind plays us in multiple ways gusting through the juice of our body

            The rise and ebb of tone [earth at 136.1 Hz]
vibratory, our DNA curative
suspended animation of beings pulsing light to our cosmic home
                                                                                                Ariadne’s golden belt a fabric of star
                        Kokopelli’s bent horn, an antler, a straw of cosmic
But it’s Nut in her lab coat draped above as
shimmering cocoon, as filament
                                                            as khol lined night.
                                                                                                                        It is Ptah we loose
track of
            Anansi’s web neural vines.
                                                                                             Maá Afra
                                    darkness punching through

canals of black bodies
avenues of black bodies
footpaths of black bodies
rivers, lakes,
                                                                                                                      unceasing oceans

waving arm that morphs to fist
conch shell viciously blown
the dance of machetes


T.J. Anderson, III (Celine Anderson)T.J. Anderson III has an MFA from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. from SUNY Binghamton. A former Fulbright Scholar at Cairo University, he is the author of Notes to Make the Sound Come Right: Four Innovators of Jazz Poetry (University of Arkansas Press), River to Cross (Backwaters Press), Cairo Workbook (Willow Books), the Spoken-Word CD, Blood Octave (Flat Five Recordings), and the chapbook At Last Round Up (lift books). He teaches courses in jazz literature, African American literature, poetry and performance, and creative writing at Hollins University and is the current Susan Gager Jackson Professor of Creative Writing.

What I Want Is to be Holy (I)

Carol Ann Davis

What I begged among    what I begged in    my regular clothes    my hands in my sleeves the hum I

hear    when I’m out of my body    among many-throated hours    small dented entablatures    in

the dust    of Polska chants    and after the fire    down by where the creek narrowed    begging

begging    into the day’s many spaces    the bark on the tree    and the bell sound that followed    my

regular clothes    still on my body    yours still on yours    hands in sleeves    among small dents and

grooves    a music    Willem might say    if you listen    as when unsure    of clouds or fog    in roadside

valleys    he looks and looks    a music    when I’m out of my body    I can see him    among many-

throated hours    what I begged to    strangers it seems now    who held strings    I couldn’t see    my

clothes    still on my body    we caught minnows    put them in a jar    someone had a tick    dispatches

from an everyday    I begged for    fog music    and fog that wasn’t    anyone’s body    the throat clears

the eyes burn    as if to self-purify    as if to bring    such fog    out of the body    and


davis2011Carol Ann Davis is the author of the poetry collections Psalm (2007) and Atlas Hour (2011), and of a forthcoming essay collection, all from Tupelo Press. Recent work is forthcoming or just out in APR, Agni, The Southern Review, and The Georgia Review. An NEA Fellow in Poetry and a 2015 National Magazine Award finalist in the Essays and Criticisms category, she lives in Newtown, CT, with her husband and two sons, and teaches at Fairfield University, where she edits the literary journal Dogwood and directs the undergraduate creative writing program.


Nicholas Gulig

Having never seen the sea, having only ever seen, the sea appears
unusual: the sea appears. I remember

waking up and making, imagining a world in which,
in which is not: catastrophe. Forgive me.

Washing up upon the borders of my solitude, you appeared upon a screen.
You changed me. Utterly. And now, in the aftermath

of that, the self that I became disseminates
an urgency, a nation named by what

it touches, wars against and renders.
This is not an easy task,

but it is, perhaps,
the only one: “Listen; Translate; Speak.” We must remember

one another. We must
remember. The sound we are surrounds us,

a sea of voices ebbing inward, washing out, a noise that enters and replaces and
affects. Intention; Being; Breath. The desert of identity expands:

                                                                                                     We are included


nick photo (1)Nicholas Gulig is a Thai-American poet from Wisconsin.


Angelo Mao

The body
Being carried into
The room inside
The white paper box,
The same model used for cheap
Takeout with friends, roommates,
Cheap, folded haphazardly,
And sunlight falling in
For the first time
Photons shed
In radiative exhaust
Billowing into
The small, lightweight
Body, bare patches on its back,
Torn-off arcs, flayed,
This one has a chip of wood
Bedding thicked in its half-
Shut mouth, cigar-like
That one has a one-eyed squint,
And meanwhile my scissors, scalpels,
And my eyes look in at the
Curl of organs, the
Light reflecting,
The revealed inside
Of one whose mouth still
Lips at a wood cigar,
Whose eye squints,
Whose opened carnation-pink
Ribs arch over a mute,
Heavy-lipped liver,
And dark spit of spleen,
Omentum and muscle had
Pursed and kept them underneath,
Hulled dark then but wet
With light now, wet
With the sight that
Slips, sibilant, in


Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 1.30.45 PMAngelo Mao is a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University. His research interests include regenerative medicine and biomedical engineering. He also reviews opera for Boston Classical Review and Opera News. His poems have appeared in Lana Turner, Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, New American Writing, and elsewhere. He is working on his first book of poems.

[not as fun as one might think the absurdists discussing eggs]

M. A. Vizsolyi

not as fun as one might think the absurdists discussing eggs

nothing to be had

not objects

the canon the one considering the repetition of ‘o’ sounds as a means of establishing

the ‘e’ sound poets will have their day

the heavenly entryway more a car door to ease & evil comforts

the beams of fulgosus who has a monopoly on bent beams

always the literate stealing daughters

the dismal look of the bingo players at bingo night in hell

four harpies knitting socks humming church music

the architect of economy housing her noble ideas

the accidental children their small chance of wealth

the drywall gathering in small piles below the bookshelf of the wannabe martyr

too hot the steel pages to turn

no such thing as a perfect poland

the hearing of seneca they say like common hearing but better

the farmer his foolish love of the radish

in the abandoned wool factory the sheep on her knees in tears her mecca

the carriages of the rich go past step aside know your place

but what would it look like

like this


Michael+bestM. A. Vizsolyi is the author two books, Anthem for the Wounded, and The Lamp with Wings: Love Sonnets, (HarperPerennial) winner of the National Poetry Series, selected by Ilya Kaminsky. He is also the author of the chapbooks, Notes on Melancholia (Monk Books) and The Case of Jane: A Verse Play (500places press). Follow him at his website, mavizsolyi.com