Authors Alison Pelegrin, author of Our Lady of the Flood; Daniel Blokh, author of Grimmening; and Jared Harél, author of Go Because I Love You; are category finalists for the Eric Hoffer Award!
The Eric Hoffer Award honors the memory of the great American philosopher Eric Hoffer by highlighting salient writing, as well as the independent spirit of small publishers. Since its inception, the Hoffer has become one of the largest international book awards for small, academic, and independent presses.
A grand prize of $2,500 is awarded annually. In addition, Eric Hoffer Award honors include various prizes within eighteen all-inclusive categories, separate press distinctions, the Montaigne Medal, the da Vinci Eye, and the First Horizon Award.
Alison Pelegrin is the author of four previous poetry collections, including Big Muddy River of Stars, which won the 2006 Akron Poetry Prize, Hurricane Party (U. Akron 2011), and Waterlines (LSU Press 2016). The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Louisiana Division of the Arts, recent work of hers appears in The Southern Review, The Cincinnati Review, and Image. She teaches at Southeastern Louisiana University.
With poems that are in turn meditative, humorous, and blunt, Our Lady of the Flood lingers in the sweet spot between ruin and rebirth. Featuring fairy tale Madonnas, feast days, laments, and botched tattoos, to read these poems is to be infected with the sort of reckless wonder Pelegrin so often sings about.
More praise for Our Lady of the Flood:
This collection vibrates with candor and concern—forging a kinetic blaze into an emotional and physical terrain newly devastated by hurricane. But oh, what gorgeous life and sass teems in these poems! Whether she writes of the exquisite delight of eating “a foam of jeweled fruits” or the horrors of ”...unzipped bodies, emptied and stacked by size,” Pelegrin's writing is simply incandescent. —Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Our Lady of the Flood sets before its altars all the rapturous junk and glorious miscellany of a world both rooted in tradition and constantly in flux. Alison Pelegrin dazzles us, once again, with a richness of experience that makes us hunger “for fig cookies, glossy loaves of bread, and for ambrosia, / confection snubbed by food snobs / as a poor folks food,” and introduces us to Our Lady of the Flood herself, asking, “Lady, is that you, with a citronella halo, / ghosting the mud-milk waters / with a laundry basket of kittens in one arm?” The divine and the ordinary intersect and intertwine throughout this collection, while a steady, spirited voice shows us “a tangle of bridges,” or “the ghost of wind lurching through kudzu leaves,” and “the movement of a horse minus the horse itself.” Readers, prepare to be astonished and transformed. Alison Pelegrin’s Our Lady of the Flood is the answer to our prayers. —Mary Biddinger
Daniel Blokh is a 17-year-old American-Jewish writer with Russian immigrant parents, living in Birmingham, Alabama. He is one of the 5 National Student Poets for 2018, representing the Southeast region. He is the author of the memoir In Migration (BAM! Publishing 2016), the chapbook Grimmening (Diode Editions, 2018), and the chapbook Holding Myself Hostage In The Kitchen (Lit City Press 2017). His work has won 1st in the Princeton High School Poetry Competition and been recognized by Scholastic Art and Writing awards and Foyle Young Poet awards, and has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, DIALOGIST, Permafrost, Blueshift, Cleaver, Gigantic Sequins, Forage Poetry, Avis, Thin Air, Cicada, and more. He's bad at taking naps, which sucks, because he really needs a nap right now.
In his latest collection from Diode Editions, Grimmening, Blokh lays bare the anxieties of adolescence, revealing the struggle of navigating a new and unfamiliar world. Throughout poems that take the appearance of guides, the narrator searches for comfort in art, faith, and identity. Grimmening shows us that to growing up is to grapple with the universe; that to discover a new world means letting go of an old one.
More praise for Grimmening:
The poems in Daniel Blokh’s chapbook, grimmening, have been following me everywhere. Like the moon, these poems “can find a river/in anyone.” I didn’t know how badly I needed these poems. I was immediately taken with how careful and tender Blokh is with his language. I could read these poems over and over and discover something new every time. I can’t wait to see what this poet will give us in the future, but for now, we are so so lucky to have grimmening.— Hieu Minh Nguyen
Daniel Blokh is a poet of surreality, mystery, and wonder. In deft poems that startle and engage, Blokh shows us a “world [that] learns to bend under a bloody horizon”, a world in which “the sky turns red / and prays for curtains.” These poems make me excited for both the future and the now of poetry—they demand to be read and reflected upon every bit as much as they deserve to be.—Peter LaBerge
In grimmening, Daniel Blokh writes blood, bone, family and identity with exact and
exacting verse. These poems bite—they teach us “how the world / learns to bend under a bloody horizon,” the way to “[stitch] the sun into [your] chest.” In this stunning collection, Blokh’s poems are urgent and careful, tight in verse but expansive in thought. Blokh shows us that he knows his way around a poem, and that the world grows more beautiful and more complicated when seen through a poet’s glimmering eye.—Ashley M. Jones
Jared Harél has been awarded the ‘Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize’ from American Poetry Review, as well as
the ‘William Matthews Poetry Prize’ from Asheville Poetry Review. Additionally, his poems have appeared in such journals as the Bennington Review, Massachusetts Review, The Southern Review, and Tin House. Harél teaches writing at Nassau Community College, plays drums, and lives in Queens, NY with his wife and two kids.
In a series of poems which interweave the domestic and daily with the political and historical, Harél surveys everything from He-Man to the Holocaust, from sleep-training his young son to struggling with the aftermath of the Presidential Election to craft a portrait of 21st-century American life that is humorous, haunting and utterly human.
More praise for Go Because I Love You:
Harél’s lucid poems are filled with the miracle of the domestic and daily, and backlit by a sense of how fragile any life may be in the struggle to deal with contemporary reality’s undercurrent of malice, accident, absurdity, and terror. These poems reflect a searching intelligence in the precision of each line and in fresh portrayals of how our choices cannot be unmade. I’m grateful for the hard-purchased clarity of these poems and their radiant explorations of a fully genuine life.—Lee Upton
As with so many of us, Jared Harél is waging a battle with solitude and loss, the harm that can hide, even within love. He does so, though, with rare grace and tenderness, in poems of great imagination and beauty. I want to kiss you. Build asylum inside you brings to mind what I like best about his work—that the connections between us earn more of his singing than do the ways we spin apart.—Bob Hicok
If you’ve strayed from poetry, Jared Harél is the writer that will bring you back.