Photo credit: Abhinav Anguria
We are very psyched to announce the winners of this year’s Peach Gold in Poetry:
"POEM FOR THE START OF A NEW DECADE"
by Kayleb Rae Candrilli
by Alicia Mireles Christoff
"ODE TO TRANS BOXING CLASS
by Alexis Aceves Garcia
Congratulations, Kayleb, Alicia, and Alexis!
Tomorrow we're publishing the Gold-winning poem, and the winners of the Silver and Bronze will follow next week. We are so excited to share them with all of you! Guest judge ALOK had this to say about them:
Gold: "POEM FOR THE START OF A NEW DECADE" by Kayleb Rae Candrilli
"here i am: yet another beautiful, surprised face, recently gutted by this poem. i thought i knew how to write, and then i read this poem. i thought i knew how to love, and then i read this poem. i thought i knew what poetry was, and then this poem taught me that writing is only part of it, it’s mostly about the living. it’s about being there, saying the words, going through the motions on the surface, all the while writing the poem underneath. this world, it is our field work. in other words: we live so that we can write poems and we write poems so that we can live. my favorite poems, like this one, involve growing a branch, teaching it how to saw, and then chopping yourself down, just so you can show the world your tree rings on the other side. it’s that lethal, and that loving, that tender, and that terrifying. look: i don’t know the answer to the proverbial question about a tree falling alone in a forest. but what i do know is that i heard this poem, loud and clear. and that i will never be the same because of it."
Silver: "Desert Change" by Alicia Mireles Christoff
"poems like this remind me that this business of being alive is experimental. contradiction is the norm, not the exception. we are marbled and all over the place (yes), but that doesn’t mean we are confused, just that we are infinite. reading 'desert change' is less a diamond glimmering in the sunlight, more…choking on a diamond, learning each facet the hard way. you read it once, then you read it again, and you are reading a different poem. because the objects, the scenes, the images, the feelings, they become different things when you allow them to stop social distancing and hang out together. or rather: we become a different thing once we remember that from most vantage points our organs do not have different names. teeming in this 'poem' are so many micro poems. they insist on having their own part, like a rogue choir. and if you let them, at least for a second, you begin to look at the room around you, the world around you, with a different prescription. almost as if entropy, it is everything. poems like this teach us how to perceive the world anew."
Bronze: "ODE TO TRANS BOXING CLASS" by Alexis Aceves Garcia
"sometimes the most devastating poems are the most beautiful poems. it’s not so much that the pain, it is beautiful, but rather that there is beauty in finally being able to name the pain...poetry finally being that space where we can name inconvenient truths, dismember all the noise that goes into pretending to be able. 'ode to trans boxing class' is so beautiful it hurts. it hurts because of what it says (and what it does not say): how when you live in a body already marked for violence, where there is no outside of it, sometimes relief comes from being able to choose your own poison. the poem asks us: 'in a world that dispossesses us of so much, can we not at least maintain choice?' this is why i chose this poem: because it makes me uncomfortable, because its honesty burns like a ginger shot, because it captures so effortlessly how desperate we are (and perhaps how dexterous we become) in finding a way—any way—to make it work. to make us work."
ALOK is an internationally acclaimed writer and performance artist. They are the author of the poetry book Femme in Public (2017), a meditation on anti-trans harassment, and Beyond the Gender Binary (2020), a clarion call for a new approach to gender in the 21st century. In 2019, they were honored as one of NBC's 30 LGBTQ changemakers and one of Out Magazine's Out100.
For more information on this year's Peach Gold in Poetry, including our longlist and shortlist, visit the Gold page of our website.