2018 Hudson Prize :: Winner Announced!

We’re so pleased to announce that we have chosen a winner for the 2018 Hudson Prize. A big, heartfelt congratulations goes to Alan Chazaro for winning the prize with his poetry manuscript Piñata Theory. This comes on the heels of Alan winning our Spring 2018 Black River Chapbook Competition, which was adjudicated by a completely different set of readers and editors. Well done, Alan!
Congratulations also go to this year’s finalists and semi-finalists. Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2018 Hudson Prize!

Alan Chazaro is a high school teacher at the Oakland School for the Arts, the former Lawrence Ferlinghetti Fellow at the University of San Francisco, and a June Jordan Poetry for the People alum at UC Berkeley. A Bay Area native, his poems have been featured in the San Francisco ChroniclePuerto del SolHuizache, and Iron Horse Review. His poetry collection, This Is Not a Frank Ocean Cover Album, was the winner of the 2018 Black River Chapbook Competition and his first full-length book, Piñata Theory, was awarded the 2018 Hudson Prize. They are both forthcoming with Black Lawrence Press. If poetry doesn’t work out he’d like to play in the NBA.

A Millennial Walks into a Bar and Says:

Let’s start off with a Disney movie because why
shouldn’t we? The one where the boy gets sucked
into the game his father created. Virtual reality.
And let’s consider how there is an invisibility
to everything. The way voices can break the air-
waves across oceans slapping against us. And let’s disregard
tsunami ripples. Who takes responsibility for this, anyway?
It’s an American thing to scream out take no prisoners in public. If not,
it should be. Think of national security threats. Unidentified
hackers who break code. I asked my students what they thought
about this and they told me about plaid shirts, the lag
of internet, Wreck-It Ralph. Excuse me, I’ve mentioned
another Disney movie I haven’t seen. Honestly,
I worry about oil pipelines in North Dakota.
About congress evil-scheming behind
our noses. They are planting lemon trees
in our backyards but it’ll be okay—this is approval
by majority so sit back and watch that shit grow. I apologize
if nothing bothers you; I am easily bothered. This brings me back
to the lemon trees and oil pipelines. Doesn’t it seem
like Planet of the Apes? What if Charlton Heston was telling us something
important when he said I’m sending my last signal
to Earth before we reach our destination?
That’s a rough paraphrase. What isn’t rough?
When they discovered neon it was accidental.
When they discovered continents it was accidental.
When they discovered us it was accidental.
Maybe not. Maybe I’m saying history
isn’t orchestrated by a perfect God.
We are byproducts of earthquakes. And English
is commonly spoken everywhere. Does anyone care
it started with rape? Often,
I speak in another voice. Maybe
it’s yours. I apologize. I apologize
for apologizing so much. In the 1940s
a group of teenage boys were tested
as experiments by the SS. I learned about them
while touring a death camp in Oranienburg.
How the Germans kept them around for scientific purposes.
How those boys outlived the German lieutenants. Poetic
justice, some might say. Meanwhile in the South Bronx, teenagers
built cultures from wax while DJing inside broken
down project buildings and spitting fluids into crowds
who kept their hands up until the break of dawn. A breaking
dance motion. Contortions of spirit and head. Nothing
like U.S. military drones missing their targets. Nothing.
But everything like jazz quartets. In New Orleans
there are streets that have retained the noises of ghosts:
Tchoupitoulas; Calliope; St. Claude. Find me
here. I want to remix the wrongs and make a mixtape
of imperfection. I want to put it in your stereo
and let your older brother get drunk to this, let your grandmother
fall asleep to this. Dreams are the origin of an end.
Think about flying cars and robots in movies that act and move
fakingly real. Am I wrong? I really can’t say
I’m Mexican just as I really can’t say
I’m American. Someone built this bridge between me. They carved
hyphens from the air for me to cross. Not just the crossing
you might be thinking. But the sort that can birth multiples:
national borders, a puzzle, holy crucifixions, movements
across disparate bodies. I apologize again. I just did that thing
when you use a word in your definition to define another word. But I’m sure
language is empired from mistakes so I’d rather
not take this to you. It might stifle what my friend Stan
calls moon-guzzling. Instead, keep jogging until you reach the edge
of yourself. And jump off. And find pleasure between your falling
breaths. The week before Obama’s presidency ended we drove
to Half Moon Bay. 80s synthpop and a flood
of trap-wave played. I found a decayed bunker on a cliffside
with aqua graffiti letters that spelled INNA TRIBE. Yesterday,
I ate ribs at a mom and pop’s in South Hayward. The talk of teaching,
of weddings, the slow goodness of slow-cooked BBQ inside us. Nobody
flinches. Imagine Jeff Chang and MK Chavez hurling poems
at the heads of protestors in our streets while something burns
in the near distance; strange horizons to remind us of unbroken nights;
a reminder to drive slow and pump your brakes; orchestras of Kanye;
Shakir from West Oakland singing Italian operas; California
house parties. Not like what you see on television. Or maybe
it is. We were born here and raised up like the Redwoods. Who asked?
Moving on, our neighbors are new and the old ones just moved out.
Not always by choice. How does a space change over time? It’s just time
they say. I don’t talk with Ma much because she bounces around,
this time to LA. Video games are her pleasure. In Dragon Age Inquisition
she plays as a character who hunts dragons and has sex with other players—
she explained this to me, though I’ve never owned a PS4. In Wired Magazine
you can read about two sisters from Seattle, ages 9 and 11, who built a Do-It-Yourself
spacecraft from simple materials and used a GoPro to capture its ascent
into the blindness of space. It’s all on YouTube. I wonder
how our imaginations become wrinkled and weary with age. I wonder
if things are really things. I’d bet all things eventually change
when someone else doesn’t want them to (i.e. Civil Rights). How this can all
pour from my fingers in a matter of minutes like outdated
newspapers. We mostly use Facebook as a source of news anyways.
Entertainment doesn’t hide itself from us very well. At the gym,
why do we look so discomfortable? At bars, why
do we look so discomfortable? This is rude of me to ask on a first date,
I’ve been told. Perhaps the salad would have been a better choice.
Locally foraged, says the 8-pt. font menu. Some of us would rather eat strawberries
at home while watching Trevor Noah. Note to self: do this on a Wednesday night.