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The winning poetry collection of the sixth annual Marystina Santiestevan First Book Prize. Judged by Bob Hicok.
It's a book of poems about broken kids; the ones that run away, or get thrown away, while everyone else looks away. The book believes that scars are proof we are still alive. It's about survival, and sometimes it’s about surviving the ones who didn’t. It’s about addiction and recovery, anger and hunger, grief turning to mourning, night turning to morning. It’s about memory, the things that haunt it and the things it gives life to. It’s about community and family, both lost and found. It’s about being lucky enough to feel guilty, to have regrets. It’s about beauty and horror, sometimes maybe even horrible beauty—the sublime spaces in between. The book’s about kitsugi, about wabi sabi. It’s about picking up the pieces to make something new, even if not whole. It’s about comfort in incompletion. It’s a book that’s thankful about being able to walk away, all limbs intact.
"Zackary Medlin’s BENEATH ALL WATER examines the link between mental illness, addiction, grief and loss, and the ways in which language—which purports to transmit and encapsulate personal experience—unravels in the face of these circumstances. These poems, while syntactically accessible, are always sonically complex and rewarding. In “Left,” for example, we see “a cabin gutted by fire/until naught but black bones remain,/ stand scorched. Ribs of a roof/ that used to shelter shed soot/ like the antithesis of snow.” Medlin’s accentual, alliterative lines harken back to Anglo-Saxon verse, while never buckling under its influence. In his poems, images bloom out of images: the “blue burn of a flame” quickly “ignit[es] the purple bloom/ in the fields of fireweed.” These poems are gorgeous and unsettling; in his lyrics, the beauty of the physical world is both destabilizing and menacing, a beauty that’s echoed in the sonic richness of these lines which lull the reader into overlooking the brutality of their images. These are poems that demand careful attention, to be read out loud and savored." — Paisley Rekdal
Zackary Medlin grew up in South Carolina, ran away to Alaska, spent some time in Utah, and recently started calling Colorado home. His poetry has appeared in The Boiler, The Cincinnati Review, Colorado Review, Tinderbox Poetry, and others. He holds an M.A./M.F.A. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a Ph.D. from the University of Utah, and now teaches writing at Fort Lewis College. He lives in Bayfield with his partner, their cat, and the hummingbirds, foxes, and mule deer that have graciously decided to share the yard with them.