Vértiz Wins Pen Award

Head shot of poet Vicke VertizIn late 2018, Vickie Vértiz ’98 was awarded a PEN America Literary Award-Los Angeles for her poetry collection Palm Frond With Its Throat Cut (University of Arizona Press, 2017). The collection is a series of portraits of cities—including Los Angeles, Mexico City and Paris—and of rivers, freeways and people. The Los Angeles Review of Books says Vértiz’s “poems transform displacement and a polluted cityscape into sources of resistance and aesthetic restructuring.” Vértiz says that, at its core, the book is about home. “Wherever you are, home is still with you,” she says. “When I was at Williams, home was ever-present because it was so absent.”

Here is the title poem, “Palm Frond With Its Throat Cut: After Danny Jauregui’s Sculpture”:

There is no one else but me for you / The shape you’re in / What
are we but lying single surface / subatomics / Your fronds decay /
Your remaining life is spiky particles / A golden rot / Don’t think /
Tilt / You’ll want to leave me / But let me smoke you down / The
tallow of your heart / Wait to fall / On my body / Aestheticize me /
Make me grass