We are proud to announce that Ronaldo V. Wilson’s Poems of the Black Object
published by Futurepoem in 2009 has won the 13th Annual Asian American
Literary Award for Poetry. The judges who selected Ronaldo’s book were
Sesshu Foster, John Yau, and Eileen Tabios.
This is the second award for Poems of the Black Object this year. Ronaldo
and his book were previously awarded the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry by
The Publishing Triangle. And this is also the second time a Futurepoem book
has been awarded the Asian American Literary Award for Poetry. Shanxing
Wang’s Mad Science in Imperial City won the award previously.
Judge: Sesshu Foster wrote:
“If our origins emerge from the mix (mestizaje) of the history and politics
of desire that arrive before we do, then impel us into being, in Poems of
the Black Object Ronaldo V. Wilson takes hold of that root in language,
compelling it to yield this prismatic expression in its most vivid
contemporary living idiom. The lines gleam along a sharp edge and snap.
Poems of the Black Object feels hard and fresh as if physically cracked
open—like raw seafood at the ocean’s edge.
A Zen koan asks: What was your original face before you were born? (Or in
another version: What was your original face before your parents were
born?) In Ronaldo Wilson’s deft, muscular poems, one’s own original face
emerges from the risk-fraught present moment in all its specificity (urban
circumstances, the multiplicity of encounters) as if from underwater.
Lifted through a radical grace of articulate prowess, desire arises even
when brutalized or amputated, or cauterized by openness (“Who will taste
the salt in my mouth? Feel the endless rip of the sun, its yellow light
forced against the petrified pine.”) Refracted back through his own earlier
intense (and intensely imagined) memory and sensation, the book ends with
meditations on the suffering of others—a compassionate outward blossoming
of the figure of “the black body.” This is a tremendous achievement.”
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