2011 Poetry Issue | Poetry Contest | Indy Week
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2011 Poetry Issue 

Four poems brought to us by the number three

Page 3 of 6

Second place

"Cutting Open Animals"
by Matthew Valades

deer

a crime
some kind of crime

that intestines
remind me of
spaghetti-os.

you have to start
near the asshole.


fish

a few times
when I was
younger

grandpa's brown
dry hands
and
the fish
pulled apart
by his knife
and our hands.

a grainy warm
mucus
that sticks.

lakes in
south dakota
get trout
from trucks.


frog

third period.

i only remember that
it smelled and
we didn't eat them.

there's biology
for you.


Judge's Comments: I couldn't shake this miniature triptych for a few reasons. First, its brevity is evocative without being vague. The repetition of "crime" in the first poem conveys reflection, even self-doubt—in six words. Many tiny poems read like bumper stickers or Facebook posts, but this one is a lovely amalgam of form and content. Doing a lot with a little—Ezra Pound's condensare edict—is a poetic virtue. Next, the mucus image at the poem's geographic center anchors it in gritty realism rather than a lame lyricism. The last reason I dug this poem is that I learned some new information from it. Now I know where to start when skinning a deer, for instance. I'm not as interested in windows into other people's souls (I mean, I already have a soul, apparently) as in windows into other places, lives and experiences. "Cutting Open Animals" might be just a triple peephole, but it's crystalline. —Chris Vitiello

click to enlarge Matthew Valades - PHOTO BY JEREMY M. LANGE

Of our winners, Matthew Valades is the most recent arrival to the Triangle, moving from Brooklyn first to Silk Hope, then Pittsboro, in November of last year. Describing himself as a "half-student, half-farmer," he is taking classes in native plants and ecology. "Cutting Open Animals" was inspired by his stay at Silk Hope, he says, when he watched the skinning of a deer.

"In trying to learn more about forest ecology, plants and farming," he continues. "I'm also finding it necessary to cut through all the crap that society pulls to make us think that this kind of knowledge isn't necessary." He reads books on botany and nature, but his reading list also includes a "very good book called Black Nature, which is a collection of 400 years of African-American nature poetry, edited by Camille Dungy. I finished that book the day I wrote this poem."


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Hello,

I was wondering do you have Host for this event? If not I would like to be involved …

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thanks for the heads up, dman. it should be fixed now.

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Memories are made if this. Bless you

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