The Lauren K. Alleyne Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize
Won’t You Be My Valentine
By now you are just the space
my lover touches me around, his care
unwittingly conjuring you. You left
an opening to talk to me—your voice
speckles through—but I miss you
when I feel unknowable, a tongue
too swollen to tell. My body is a dream
I once had of freedom, a foreign
thing that eats silver and loves spiders. How
can I tell my lover of my craving for metal,
how will he understand the watchful
eye of the spider. I long for you—
my only witness—no one else
knows me in that particular
crisis. Not even me. Only you
can tell me what my face becomes,
which animal I sound like, only you
can embroider the scene—the doe gutted
or the doe leaping away.
Elizabeth Hoover is a feminist poet who enjoys working on projects with a conceptual or research element. Her current project, Some Poems About Pictures is a hybrid text that offers art as a space for resistance to and transformation of dominant gender narratives. A portion of that project was awarded the 2015 Story Quarterly essay prize, judged by Maggie Nelson. Her poetry has appeared in [Pank], The Los Angeles Review, and The Pinch, among others. She is a freelance book critic and lives in Pittsburgh with her partner and a cat named Brad.
We're sharing, with her permission, Elizabeth's response to winning the Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize:
After three years of working full-time, I decided to take a gamble and bet on my art. I left my job and moved back to Pittsburgh to dedicate myself to my writing. I received word that I won this prize while aimlessly scrolling through my phone perched on a moving box in need of a break. It was an enormous boost to my confidence and helped me believe I made the right decision. I loved the process of deciding to submit to this prize as well because it meant studying Lauren K. Alleyne's work, which was a great education on moving between the social, political, and personal within the tight space of a poem. I admire her work and am honored that a poet and scholar of that caliber saw something in my poem. EH.