• Babette Cieskowski

2020 Poetry Contest Winner: "American Sonnet for My Medical History"



I’ve had more than one silver tooth, had hair chin-length, blood orange, dyed deep blue. I’ve opened the mouth of a woman I barely knew. I’ve seen my holes sewn shut, opened, reopened. The scars on my belly turn pink when I drink. My body is angelic, cherubic, flushed red, plump, and dumb. I’ve been wheeled into a room filled with mint-gloved fingers, hands trained to tweak and polish dysfunction, the ticking cogs hidden in my machine. I’ve seen my body revised, removed—fixed and unremarkable. There are open doors inside me, doors I have no intention of closing.



Born in Oahu, Hawaii, Babette Cieskowski has lived in South Florida, Kitzingen, Germany and Central Texas. She currently lives in Columbus, Ohio where she earned her MFA in Poetry from The Ohio State University. She was awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for 2020. Her poems have appeared in Compose, the minnesota review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Laurel Review, Puerto del Sol, Frontier Poetry, Crab Orchard Review, Prairie Schooner, Juked, among others.



Judge Rodney Gomez on 2020 Poetry Contest Winner: "American Sonnet for My Medical History"


"'American Sonnet for My Medical History' is an unrelenting, high-energy soliloquy. I admire the poem’s tonal balance—resisting both hyperbole and retread. I admire the silky way the lines move across the page without a stumble and how the internal rhyme snowballs towards an ending. I admire the imagery in the poem, the simple descriptions that disguise, then reveal, trauma. I admire the plain testimony and the honest (hopeful?) appraisal in the last two lines. Most of all I admired the poem’s story and how skillfully I was drawn into it. This poem called me to read and reread it, and for that I am grateful."



Rodney Gomez is the author of Ceremony of Sand (YesYes Books, 2019) and Citizens of the Mausoleum (Sundress Publications, 2018), as well as several chapbooks. He’s the winner of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize, the Gloria E. Anzaldúa Poetry Prize, and the Rane Arroyo Chapbook Prize. A member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop and the Chocholichex writing collective, he serves as an editor at Latino Book Review and works at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

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