We’re delighted to announce Audrey Gidman as the winner of our 2016 Slippery Elm Prize in poetry! She’ll receive $1000 and publication of her poem “Anatomy/Geography/Ethnography” in our fourth issue, due out in December.
Judge Jen Moore says:
The twelve prose sections of Audrey Gidman’s poem “Anatomy/Geography/Ethnography” originate with the work of Bernardino de Sahagún, a sixteenth-century Franciscan friar whose Florentine Codex is comprised of twelve books of research on Aztec culture. Using Sahagún’s “Definitions of Earthly Things” as specific source and guide, Gidman locates the human body as the site of material and linguistic invention. Her logic is associative, accretive, and sensual, recalling both the elemental odes of Pablo Neruda and the elliptical sentences of Gertrude Stein. Via verbal patterning and repetition, she builds a visceral poem-body that is generative and rich in its attempts to define the human form and its parts. In doing so, she also furthers the body of knowledge collected by Sahagún’s codex: blood is “a mountain stream inside a breathing sack,” the spine a “bone puzzle”; the neck is the “punctuation of a river, of perhaps,” and the heart “an amethyst chair,” “waves inside cut trees,” and “seed code.” The surprises created through Gidman’s parataxis remind us that, whatever else a definition is, it is above all meant to establish relationships and resonances. Gidman gives us new ways of knowing the body, which we cannot escape and must therefore come to know intimately. That intimacy is, for Gidman, ultimately an act of celebration: “To be and to be and to be…To sing and be sung.”