On Saturday, October 22nd, MFA Alum, Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, graduate of the Creative Writing Program 2014, released her first full-length poetry collection, award-winning, Hour of the Ox, to the warm reception of Books & Books patrons.
Introducing Marci was Philip and Patricia Frost Professor of Creative Writing and MacArthur “Genius,” Campbell McGrath.
Marci’s collection, Hour of the Ox, won the 2015 AWP Donald Hall Prize in Poetry, a national poetry prize which not only represents a high honor, but is accompanied by an award of $5,500, supported by Amazon.com, and publication of the collection by the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Marci’s collection garnered the praise of fellow FIU MFA graduate and 2013 Inaugural Poet, Richard Blanco (1997 graduate) who had this to say of the winning book:
“A striking and rare combination of spare precision and rich details, Hour of the Ox tells a quiet, yet grand and universal tale of place and displacement, loss and renewal, illusion and disillusion. This is one of the most compelling books of poetry I’ve read in years, not simply because of its seamless craft, but more so because of its pure and urgent voice possessed by that ineffable quality that makes poetry, poetry.”
Additional praise came from NEA and Pushcart Fellow, poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil, who wrote in her blurb: “Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello’s powerful debut introduces us to a world where the modern elegy sings across ocean and bone, and where it’s possible ‘storms fanned from the ears of elephants.’ This magnificent book is ‘not a love song, nor a glossary of despair,’ but rather wholly enchanting and original, bearing the beauties and failures of the body and all of ‘what the sea asks us to return.”
And judge, Crystal Ann Williams, the poet and judge who ultimately selected Hour of the Ox as the contest’s winner, said of Marci’s collection:
“Hour of the Ox is a timeless collection written by a poet of exceptional talent and grace, a voice as tough as it is tender. Poignant and beautifully composed, these elegies hum with emotional potency and moved me beyond measure. This immigrant story emerges through the hands, mouths, hearts, mournings, and voices of a family an ocean away and is exquisite, lyrical, and an incredible and rare gift.”