The Honickman Foundation

2008 APR / Honickman First Book Prize Winner

Matthew Dickman, All American Poem

"Winning the prize meant that my poems might fall into the hands of a reader and the book would affect them. That they might even enjoy the poems! One of the major organs of poetry, or any art, is the act of sharing that art with a person, an audience – it's the completion of the art. Winning the Honickman Prize meant I had suddenly become lucky enough to share my poems with a lot of people."

Matthew Dickman, 2008 recipient, appreciated the fact that whenever he heard people talk about the award it was with respect and excitement.

The Mysterious Human Heart
The produce in New York is really just produce, oranges
and cabbage, celery and beets, pomegranates
with their hundred seeds, carrots and honey,
walnuts and thirteen varieties of apples.
On Monday morning I will walk down
to the market with my heart inside me, mysterious,
something I will never get to hold
in my hands, something I will never understand.
Not like the apricots and potatoes, the albino
asparagus wrapped in damp paper towels, their tips
like the spark of a match, the bunches of daisies, almost more
a weed than a flower, the clementine,
the sausage links and chicken hung
in the window, facing the street where my heart is president
of the Association for Random Desire, a series
of complex yeas and nays,
where I pick up the plantain, the ginger root, the sprig
of cilantro that makes me human, makes me
a citizen with the right to vote, to bear arms, the right
to assemble and fall in love.

"There are a lot of first-book contests out there. Some are great, some are invented vanity, and some feed on poets, but I knew The Honickman was a prize that was on the up and up, and that felt meaningful to me."

Matthew had already been published in magazines and chapbooks, but he felt that publishing his works as a full-length book allowed his readers to gain more meaning from his poems.

Matthew Dickman reads "Coffee"


"Every poet, I think, wants to publish a book-length collection of his or her work. Although, like short stories or chapters from a novel each poem is a thing unto itself, we as readers can gain a lot of meaning from a book of poems that would not be clear by reading just one or two in a magazine."

Since winning the prize, Matthew has received four additional awards, including the 2009 Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the 2008 May Sarton Award from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. His work has also been published in APR, Daedalus, The Cortland Review, Tin House, The Boston Review, and Dossier magazine. He and his twin brother, who is also a poet, were featured in a New Yorker profile in April of 2009.

"In a world of First-Book Prizes, Fellowships, and Contests, a poetry world that Stanley Kunitz once worried was looking too much like Vegas, it's lucky but not luck that we have something as classy as the APR/Honickman to look forward to as writers and readers. It's a lot of hard work done by APR, Copper Canyon Press, and the great gift of the Honickman Foundation."

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