The Honickman Foundation


Jacob Saenz, Throwing the Crown

Jacob Saenz, the 2018 APR/Honickman First Book Prize winner for his manuscript, Throwing the Crown, was chosen by Pulitzer Prize winning guest judge, poet Gregory Pardlo, from over 900 entries. In his introduction he writes, "...More than a thought experiment, Jacob Saenz's debut collection Throwing the Crown quietly defies the old narratives that portray young men in cities like Chicago as anonymous statistics and cautionary tale."

Saenz's poems are set in a Chicago neighborhood dominated by gang life, but juxtaposed with the sweetness and vulnerability of youth as they navigate the cold, harsh realities of their world. "Full of accelerative sound—tight rhymes and short, percussive lines—these poems follow a fast-paced trajectory from danger to survival, pausing to acknowledge the beauty and humor in the details along the way."

From "Blue Line Incident":

He was just some coked-out,
crazed King w/crooked teeth
& a teardrop forever falling,
fading from his left eye, peddling
crack to passengers or crackheads
passing as passengers on a train
chugging from Chicago to Cicero,
from the Loop through K-Town:
Kedzie, Kostner, Kildare.

Jacob Saenz was born in Chicago and raised in Cicero, Illinois. His poetry has been anthologized in The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine and The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. A CantoMundo fellow, he has been the recipient of a Letras Latinas Residency and a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship. He serves as an associate editor for RHINO.

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