Poetry: Finalists of Omnidawn’s 2017 Poetry Chapbook Contest

This month we feature new work from four of the five finalists of Omnidawn’s 2017 Poetry Chapbook Contest:

S. Brook Corfman – The Adversaria: Four Closet Dramas
Emily Martin – Palisades
Alyx Raz – Roadwork
Jonathan William Stout – The Dream of Zukofsky


S. Brook Corfman

The shadow of a hair as it grows longer unfurls into the leg of a preying mantis. No one sleeps and we are already dead. We are accepting this, or I am trying to do so without giving up. If the prism scatters, still we hold each color together until we reach a new surface. There are not excuses. A book I read telegraphs the truth of an experience, or one truth, in a real kind of realism like perfumed hair. A speculative moth under the moon. A speculative tulip bulb which grows into other kinds of bulbs: Edison’s, scientists. Multi-purpose latex has been engineered to grant you vision in the dark, even if you did not have vision in the light. I am happy for this vision of a life but wish for a transformation instead. I have never read a book that mirrored my gender and like books anyway: is it unnecessary, then, or is there an absence that, if filled, would flood? Again, I understand calm as an absence. I understand repression as an absence still filling the lungs with water.


IMG_1282S. Brook Corfman is a poet who writes plays, living in a turret in Pittsburgh. This Lambda Literary Fellow’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in DIAGRAM, Indiana Review, Muzzle, and Quarterly West (Best of the Net Nomination), among other places. @sbrookcorfman

Lapidary Society of Todayness

Emily Martin

To say there is a method and is there are methods   To say there is a
method there are many methods does your faltering prefer   To say there is
a choice and does it excavate   Or does it spread slowly in a thick pool of
glaze discrete   In the moonlight and barking what materials do you   Does
your faltering prefer

Images begin to well up like confessions   A lake balanced atop a
mountain   An earth drained of water   Thousands of crumpled dinosaurs
piled across a plain   They must have lain like that for centuries   The
voiceover says   Without anyone to clean them up

She measures the breath of an observation   The breath of a scream   The
breath of confession and all that it scrapes out and leaves splattered across
the floor   A piece of shame   Trimmed in crinoline and ribbons   A little
bit   Of specific technical information   Not difficult to describe but
logistically necessary and thus made vague and subsequently meted out
keeps them dependent what materials do you   Does your settling prefer


EMartinEmily Martin is a writer and educator from Brooklyn. Her work has been included in The Recluse, Prelude, DataBleed, Tarpaulin Sky, The Denver Quarterly, The Iowa Review, among others.


Alyx Raz

And I’m on a whim now
protecting my own

is it the LED
or the news; is the pain
the LED

defragging all
my nostalgia:

                                                                     – Orlando White

I spent all day with your body and came back unsure
I keep nodding along like a road with no passengers
I open my chest & find your chrysanthemums.

You recognize it as belonging. You sweeten my focus.

You knew me differently; then, I knew me more.
Light null & light now. The articulation of the passage
the passage. The memory of my love circuitous;
on umbrage, a void here:

you trail my substance with word
your substance cant word.

You pull through my refrain: a splash of my discovery,
yellow veering slate.

Slick turns keep me leaning on throats
& you on your upheaval.

I remembered the most I could.

I divorced my love.

I gave up for a bit I know how you like
your danger. High in the alley with that hickey. The molly
doing you no good. Nor the coke.

Was it mesmerizing, the trade?
Were they turncoating, your arms?
You land on the earth, and keep saying grass!

Here comes the spell placating
our nature.

Here come our lips

Our opening wager: our opening abeyant:
I wonder if your hands remember tending the small of my neck
like my neck their arrival.


IMG_5421-Edit_1.4.18 (2)Alyx Raz is a poet from Ohio. They earned their BA at Vassar College, and are an MFA candidate at UMass Amherst. To some degree, they have contributed their life to Slope Editions, the Massachusetts Review, and Jubilat, and are the Founding Editor of the Vassar Review. They were a recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and the Deanne Beach Stoneham Prize, and their poetry can be found in the exhibition catalogue Other People’s Pictures.


V                    i                    o                    l                    a                    s
dragged across marble floors of government buildings / [vein-throbs of the deoxygenated] / try their shivering tremolos against a  c  c  u  m  u  l  a  t  i  o  n s      o f      g a t h e r i n g      r o b e s  —
Robespierre’s ripe pies & robberies / within / to us beckon & thus: silence contaminates theories of continual motion. Words will do it / from the singing gut O Louis / the dreamscape pass-thru of hoops / strays / yet still / on manhole stoops, confessional algorithms sell poems on mobile phones. How Babylon has become (becoming largesse!) a horror to the world & here Z sits watching father’s brain short-circuit (“I’m all alone”) / [park in sin, son, permanently] the prairie’s dreaming sod—can anyone escape? Take the transit of goods by the horns. Official documents don’t arrive any different than bulldozer creeds / Joshua remarking on diesel refineries / “I love the smell of diesel.” / Herbert, what does conversion look like / how baptismal can we get? From whom did they come / & what do we make of any kind of return? These topological maps make an algebra of this body / indeed nonlinear / yet hungry I was, & had some meat & queer we / welcomed guests only to find / thousands were owed / only to find inventio / O / elocutio & grace / foregrounded by Roman citizens flanking the fallen & / how the mourners combatted what wasn’t yet known—how any gathering / bottomless perception of relations signaled f                    l                    a                    m                    e                    s
t h r o w n    i n    a    s e q u e n c e    /    r i g h t     a t    C a e s a r ’ s
j              u              g              u              l              a              r              .


J.W. a.fotoJonathan William Stout is an adjunct faculty in the Rhetoric Department at the University of Iowa. J.W. received a B.A. from Pacific Lutheran University and an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Poems can be found, or are forthcoming, in Prelude Magazine, Iowa Review Online, Poetry is Dead, Tulane Review, Canada Quarterly, and elsewhere.