Hillary Gravendyk Prize – 2016 Winners

2016 National Winner Marco Maisto
Traces of a Fifth Column

There’s nothing that doesn’t belong and no two things that can’t be combined in Marco Maisto’s explosive world of percussive potential, and yet every word is curated; his choices are deliberate, often surprisingly delicate, and always informed by his excellent ear and inventive exuberance. His astonishing linguistic agility juggles through a found journal and an old video tape, through collapsing lions and finch-colored echoes–all within a recurrent address to a you somehow too close to be clearly seen, and thus rendered limitless. Such a radical proliferation of possibility is ultimately contagious–Who are you not? he asks at one point, and the fact that we have no answer is everything.

Cole Swenson

Marco Maisto’s first book, Traces of a Fifth Column, won the Hilary Gravendyk National Prize and is forthcoming from Inlandia Books in early 2017. Marco studied at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, and lives in NYC with the painter L. Margaret Galey. Some of his most recent poetry and visual narrative can be found in small po[r]tions, Drunken Boat, The Colorado Review, The Offing, TYPO, Spry, jubliatRHINO, Tinderbox, Wyvern Lit, Pangyrus, and other journals.

2016 Regional Winner Rachelle Cruz (Photo by Julienne Medina)
God’s Will for Monsters

In many ways Rachelle Cruz, here, contests, demolishes and remixes the bizarre, early 20th Century colonial and classic ethnographic summations of the Philippines, of its peoples and culture, those “without history” – with her incredible, leaping, elegant, multi-form, cinematic, “forest” of word-magic. The food, the body, the islands, the crossings, the colonial montage, the “Renaissance” in reverse, Imelda Marcos and her gallery of humanless shoes, the mother, the daughter, money order “transactions,” and early school days of cultural slippage–as Renato Rosaldo, one of the few anthropologists to dismantle the colonial dis- guring of the Ilongot of Luzon, Northern Philippines, Cruz creates a hurricane masterpiece of anti-ethnographies of scenes, moments and artifacts, of cultural realignments. Who is the monster now? An award winner non-stop, a deeply serious, studied set of investigations, yet, playful, a Tumbler of blurred faces, light, time, space, paint, medicine, plants and plates at the hands of a spiritcaller- writer, word-levitator of the 21st Century. One of a kind.

Juan Felipe Herrera

Rachelle Cruz is the author of God’s Will for Monsters, which won an American Book Award in 2018 and the 2016 Hillary Gravendyk Regional Poetry Prize. She co-edited Kuwento: Lost Things, an anthology of Philippine Myths with Lis P. Sipin-Gabon. The second edition of her comics text resource, Experiencing Comics: An Introduction to Reading, Discussing and Creating Comics, was published in 2021. Her work has also appeared in Poets & Writers Magazinethe San Francisco ChronicleYellow Medicine Review, among others. She currently teaches Genre Fiction in the low-residency MFA program at Western Colorado University.