If your poem has a lot to say, it may be right for our Thomas H. McDill Award, which accepts work of up to 70 lines in any form or style.
This year’s judge is Virgil Suárez, who was born in Havana, Cuba in 1962. At the age of twelve he arrived in the United States. He received an MFA from Louisiana State University in 1987. He is the author of eight collections of poetry, most recently 90 MILES: SELECTED AND NEW, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. His work has appeared in a multitude of magazines and journals internationally.
He has been taking photographs on the road for the last three decades. When he is not writing, he is out riding his motorcycle up and down the Blue Highways of the Southeast, photographing disappearing urban and rural landscapes. His 10th volume of poetry, THE PAINTED BUNTING’S LAST MOLT, will be published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in the Spring of 2020.
On the subject of the current role of the poet in society, he says:
“I think young poets will have no difficulty in making their work more political, and more relevant to their times.
2020 has been a tough year for everyone. Personally, I have been able to get a lot of work done during
the pandemic. It’s what I’ve been training for all my life, having more time than I know what to do with,
so I write. The way folks have adjusted (well, some folks haven’t really, at all) but those of us who have
taken the pandemic seriously have adapted to best of our ability. I’ve been writing and cooking a lot.
I’ve been reading on Zoom from my new book: THE PAINTED BUNTING’S LAST MOLT out from
the University of Pittsburgh Press. I’ve been thinking about lines of distribution. About how so many
of us depend on medicine. What if medicine stopped coming to our local pharmacies? Such a question
lead to the poem featured here.”
Big Pharma Blues
Better living through pharmacology,
except when CVS can’t fill a pres-
cription, claiming your mental
health pills are no longer available.
Suddenly, the old fears emerge:
a man drifting through the back
roads, wandering between burning
pines and wild boars grazing
at his feet. If this is how the world
ends, then I want to be food
for the animals. They can sniff
out danger and the flesh of this
man gorged on Japanese natto
and tobiko. Sometimes you have
to lose in order to come back
in new formulated chemistry.
Nature doesn’t need medicine
to know how much fuckery
there is In the human heart.