Joy Harjo selects Monica Ong as the Winner of the 2014 Kore Press First Book Prize

Joy Harjo, distinguished poet and 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, was this year's judge for the Kore Press First Book Prize in Poetry.

Joy Harjo, distinguished poet and 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, was this year's judge for the Kore Press First Book Prize in Poetry.

The legendary poet Joy Harjo (2014 Guggenheim Fellow) selected my manuscript "Silent Anatomies" as the winner of the Kore Press 2014 First Book Prize in Poetry! I'm still pinching myself and am reveling with joy, amazement, vindication, and deep appreciation. Of the collection she said:

"This is one of the most unique poetry collections. It's a kind of graphic poetry book, but that's not exactly it either. Poetry unfurls within, outside and through images. The images are stark representations that include bottles that have been excavated from a disappeared age, contemporary ultrasound images of a fetus, family photographs and charts. They establish stark bridges between ancestor and descendant time and presence. This collection is highly experimental and exciting."

I am an admirer of Harjo's multi-disciplinary creative practice, her social activism, and most of all her "crazy brave" heart, from which bold poetry flows. I feel so honored that she saw the heart of my work and frankly, my mind is so blown I hardly have words to describe this.

Overall, it's exciting to now be working towards releasing the book in 2015 and to share this work with a broader audience. I am so appreciative of Kore Press for opening their arms to this special project.

None of this could have happened without my Kundiman family, led by the fearless Sarah Gambito and Joseph Legaspi. Kundiman instilled in me the conviction to believe in and honor the stories we carry within us, that our homelands thrive wherever we use our voices. I also would not have grown as a poet without the generosity of Wendy S. Walters and Randall Horton, whose mentorship not only sustained me but taught me to go for broke.

This winter was difficult to weather for many reasons. But I can definitely say that winter never fails to turn into spring.


"Metal Lungs" published in Drunken Boat #15

I'm thrilled that the work "Metal Lungs" has been published in the current issue of Drunken Boat as part of the folio entitled Handmade/Homemade, which celebrates the craft of poetry in the context of handmade artist books.

The folio is curated by Deborah Poe and "is being published in conjunction with an exhibition at Pace University in Westchester (with a sister exhibit at Kelly Writers House in Philadelphia) that includes handmade, homemade and letterpress chapbooks, broadsides, one-of-a-kind editions, artist collaborations and the construction of texts from unorthodox materials."

I also want to give a shout out to my Kundiman fellows as well as poetry friend at the Poetry Institute of New Haven for their support!