Simone Person, author of Smoke Girl, is the winner of the 2020 Eric Hoffer Award in the chapbook category & shortlisted for the 2020 Eric Hoffer Grand Prize! Congratulations, Simone!
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.
In addition to the grand prize, the Eric Hoffer Award identifies a winner, a runner-up, and honorable mentions within eighteen all-inclusive categories. Additional honors go to academic, small, micro, and self-published presses. The category finalists and the grand prize short list are further noted.
Smoke Girl is a study in loss: of body, safety, and identity. It interrogates the simultaneous invisibility and hypervisibility of fat, Black, femme bodies. Instead of forgetting,Simone Person breaks the silences and shame embedded in the murky aftermath of sexual assault, employing the voices of victim, perpetrator, and spectator throughout.
Praise for Smoke Girl:
Simone Person’s poetry is not for everyone; it is not for the cowardly or the two faced. Her poetry will look you in the eye and exhale thick truth that will either warm you or choke you.
— Rachel Wiley, author of Nothing Is Okay and Fat Girl Finishing School
Smoke Girl introduces us to a narrator who remembers the after-effects of rape: the “wondering if it was rape at all…” and the questions in hindsight: “Didn’t you notice he was a dog”? Simone Person offers us a narrative that vacillates between shame and anger, doubt and certainty, self-blame and empathy. These poems reveal the trauma that rape directly causes to the body and the emotional, psychological, historical, and spiritual trauma it unearths. They do not hide the point of origin for Smoke Girl's pain, desire, and hope of being loved by someone: the rejection of her own body by everyone, including herself. Yet, this story is one that makes visible the internal and external struggle of “survivors” as they push themselves out of what often times feels like being buried alive. Smoke Girl, however, is also a warning and reclamation; its words a ritual of unsilencing and protection: “…I scrub your fingertips from my skin. / Set fire to the / things you touched. / Salt my doorways so you can’t enter. / Fill in what you dug from me… I forget / the burn of your name, walk through you in the street, and you are gauzy and thin like cotton.” And, true to the nature of smoke, these poems will rise from invisibility, settle into places you want to keep hidden, and burn themselves into your consciousness until you cannot forget them.
— Maria Hamilton Abegunde, PhD, author of What Is Now Unanswerable; Still Breathing; Wishful Thinking; and Learning to Eat the Dead: Juba, USA (forthcoming)
In Smoke Girl, Simone Person documents the anguish and loss of sexual violence; these poems weave a narrative of wound and scar, the ritual of a fist clenched and released. Speaking from and to several voices, Smoke Girl potently illustrates the wraith of trauma, how it disrupts and disturbs memory and time. These words render devastation, through its avenues and histories, as tangible on the page; Person is an observant and empathetic writer, one whose gorgeous work I am honored to know.
— Yasmin Belkhyr, author of Bone Light
Simone Person grew up in small Michigan towns and Toledo, Ohio. She is a Pink Door Women’s Writing Retreat 2018 Fellow and author of Dislocate, the prose winner ofHoneysuckle Press’s2017 Chapbook Contest. She is currently an MFA/MA in Fiction and African American and African Diaspora Studies at Indiana University. Her work has appeared inPuerto del Sol, Yemassee, Gigantic Sequins, and others. Find out more at simoneperson.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @princxporkchop.