The University of Wisconsin Press
The Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry
Ronald Wallace, General Editor
Winner of the 2012 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry, selected by Jean Valentine
In this debut collection, Voodoo Inverso, Mark Wagenaar composes a startling mystical imagism and sets it to music, using self-portraits to explore differing physical and spiritual landscapes. He uses a variety of personae—a victim of sex trafficking in Amsterdam, a fichera dancer, a portrait haunted by Dante, a carillonneur of starlight, an elephant in pink slippers remembering its beloved—to silhouette the intricacies and frailties of the body and the world. In a series of “gospels” and “histories”—such as the poems “The History of Ecstasy” and “Moth Hour Gospel”—he shines a light on the possibilities of transcendence and transfiguration, weaving together memory and loss with desire and hope.
“You, too, will be laid down,
taken up as xylem, shaken out as feathers, as ash, your name the hum of the blue arcs the deer leave in the air as they leap. Of the solace of thorns, what could I tell you? Will you take comfort
knowing you will gladly give your life for the sake of your thirst? When the body is laid down in its longing—the mosaic of veins at our wrists & feet
patterned after dogwood blossoms, the pulsatile sun
beneath our ribs, the three-day darkness between them—it’s wound with the same water that bears
the day’s ashes to a vanishing point west of west.”
—excerpt from “The Other World”
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Mark Wagenaar is the winner of numerous poetry awards, including the Yellowwood Poetry Prize, the Gary Gildner Award, the Matt Clark Poetry Prize, and the Greg Grummer Poetry Award. His poems have appeared in such journals as the New England Review, Subtropics, Southern Review, American Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, New Ohio Review, and Antioch Review. He lives in Denton, Texas.
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Of Related Interest:
Jacqueline Jones LaMon
"At the heart of Jacqueline Jones LaMon’s new collection is a haunting series of poems born of the silence tragedy and loss wedges into our lives. With restraint and through a variety of characters, LaMon gives voice to those whose voices have been lost to us, who’ve left behind only questions and vivid empty spaces the way a boy, dragging his foot, leaves a trace to follow, fleeting as a ‘mark in the snow." —Natasha Tretheway, author of Native Guard
Winner of the 2011 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry, selected by Cornelius Eady | Finalist, NAACP Image Awards
LC: 2011041956 PS
80 pp. 6 x 9
Paper $16.95 t
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"There is an ardent music behind Mark Wagenaar’s poetry, which feels like the music not just of his writing, but in an unusual way, of his heard thought. I love the surprises of image and experience, of lost and found footing, in this book; its openness, intelligence, and the quiet shine on the back of all the poems."
—Jean Valentine, Felix Pollak award winner
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Updated February 15, 2012© 2012, The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System