The Editors of Puerto del Sol would like to thank everyone who submitted their work to the 2019 Poetry and Prose Contest. Our winners were chosen by Emily Pérez and Camille Acker respectively.
2019 Poetry Contest Winner: "The Room Divider" by Rainie Oet
Chosen by Emily Pérez:
"There is nothing flashy about 'The Room Divider,' and yet, like the kids hiding between the folds of a blanket hung on twine to divide their bedroom, the unobtrusive heart of this poem haunts its reader. The poem addresses the speaker’s sibling 'Diane,' asking her to remember their old room. A divider is a child’s attempt to attain control and privacy, to manage space, and this poem beautifully enacts those things. Control appears in the lines and language: in five four-line stanzas, plainspoken diction glides across subtle internal rhymes. In an almost-iambic rhythm, the story unfolds. Stanzas are even and orderly. No linguistic or imagistic tricks call attention to themselves; our focus is on the siblings and their attempts to both irritate and connect as they hide from one another beneath the blanket fold, right on the dividing line. We are alerted that something may not be right with Diane, who is 'thin… / by then' but it is not until the penultimate stanza that we learn of Diane’s death. The speaker has kept this private because the true audience—Diane—already knows. Afterwards, the speaker attempts a fire, which 'wouldn’t take.' This is not a poem of flaming rage. Instead, this is a poem of grief and slow recovery. In life, the siblings did not cross into each other’s space, but after Diane is gone, the speaker confesses to a gesture that signals the weight of despair: 'I tried to sleep / in your bed permanently.' Relief does not come quickly, but after a time: 'For a while / that seemed right. Then, I moved to mine.' Quietly, deliberately, this poem shepherds its reader through years, a relationship, life and death, and back to life again."
2019 Prose Contest Winner: "The Misdeeds of the Root" by Bridget Brewer
Chosen by Camille Acker:
"'The Misdeeds of the Root' starts simply enough: 'At noon, the women move into the house.' Ever after, the narrative grows more complex with each sentence. The story widens and deepens, telling an unabashed love story, radically embodying the two women at the center, and ultimately letting even the reader inhabit this insular world. I turned away once or twice feeling like an interloper in the midst of this intimacy but I always turned back captivated to once again witness this unmistakably original world."
Finalists for Poetry:
"The Gift" by Derek Annis
"Unhooking the Body" by Christie Towers
"The small, too, was infinite" by Daniel Schonning
"re/up/take" by Kinsey Cantrell
"My Mother Tries to Teach Me How to Garden" by Hannah Dow
"Let Me In" by Katherine Gaffney
"Foreplay" by Samuel Piccone
"When My Mother Was an Aztec" by Nicholas Brown
"We meet our makers in different ways" by Jonathan Greenhause
Finalists for Prose:
"Bugs 1-8 by Stanley Delgado
"Soy Yo" by Ashley Whitman
"Fire Escape" by Eric Rasmussen
About Our Judges:
Emily Pérez is a granddaughter of Mexican immigrants and the author of House of Sugar, House of Stone and the chapbooks Made and Unmade and Backyard Migration Route. A CantoMundo fellow, her poems have appeared in journals including SWWIM, Copper Nickel, Poetry, Diode, and Fairy Tale Review. She teaches English and Gender Studies in Denver, where she lives with her husband and sons.
Camille Acker is the author of the short story collection, Training School for Negro Girls, and holds a BA in English from Howard University and an MFA in Creative Writing from New Mexico State University. Her writing has appeared in Hazlitt and VICE, among other outlets. Raised in DC, she currently lives in Philadelphia.
"The Room Divider" will be published online on September 27th and "The Misdeeds of the Root" will be published online on November 1st!