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Yvette Siegert

Yvette Siegert is a Latinx poet, scholar and translator, and the winner of the 2019 Lord Alfred Douglas Prize and the 2017 Best Translated Book Award for Poetry. A CantoMundo Fellow, she has recently received scholarships from the Community of Writers at Olympic Valley and the Clarendon Fund, as well as fellowships from the New York State Council on the Arts, the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is a doctoral candidate in medieval and modern languages at Merton College, Oxford.



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It would’ve been easier if she hadn’t been known For the chickens But she was famous for these white, Undappled hens, which she’d bring to Perquín to sell On weekends The mayor’s chickens, they were called, As if her husband would ever want them (regal though They were), elegant as the egrets that are still Left to wander the presidential palace in Panama City By the time it happened, the buildings had gathered up The evening to form a landscape, and the streets grown Rancid, like oblong containers from the kind of potluck, In a dank small town, that people will choose to attend Out of boredom, and call a world  Her son was staying In San Salvador to study, and so she was alone                                                  They came for her, and her Box of hens, in three military vehicles, the passengers Disguised as radicals It would be different if they hadn’t Been so quiet They arrested her She was accused of Standing with guerrillas, Vesta at her hearth, in her slacks And a dead son’s blazer, like a queen expatriate In tenuous provinces And her crime was simple, she was The Mother of Intellectuals, the ideal accomplice It’s noted among us that this was recorded in mediocre Spelling, in a functionary’s awkward Palmer hand, As mader de intelectos [sic], a piece of wood, then, Made of the intellect To make her an idea Of accomplishment — it would’ve be different if they Hadn’t been so quiet Soon, some women Who stood outside the barracks — the ones who Ordinarily might jump to buy white chickens — turned When they heard her singing and heard her ringing Her keys against the walls, as if her room were full Of open doors, as if her greatest urgency should be That the room should leave to meet the evening Slowly they turned her body into a torso Then it was A floor Rarely do rooms like these have hands
Vesta

Prize Entry

November 2019

Yvette Siegert


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