To All Fischer Prize contestants from Rafael Jesús González

In Uncategorized by GalaxyED2 Comments

Judging for the Fischer Poetry Prize

            Winnowing them down is not easy —
even to fifty, then forty, thirty —
still harder twenty, ten, & finally one.
“. . . so much hope lies in your hands,”
a colleague writes, the words carrying
more meaning than she meant. Each entry
speaks its own voice, probing reality
with imagination, with the heart. I read
each once, twice, thrice, four times,
five or more, return to it. The voices mingle,
mix, tangle — a cacophony, a counterpoint.
How to single out the one voice? One no better
than the other, just different — there is no best.
Each opens a door, tears down a wall, says
a truth I have always known in my bones,
or a truth I had not known but now I do.
I look for a honed sense of justice, compassion,
an openness to beauty that wrenches. I could say
that I choose for precision of diction, choice
of metaphor, syntax, but we would all know it
for the bull scat it would be — I choose by my own
history, my own memories, joys, pains, betrayals,
awe — by what I ate last night, drank, smoked,
dreamt. I choose by what I am most vulnerable to
as the deadline falls — I cannot tell you how;
there is no best, only what now moves me most.
The biggest prize worth having is already theirs:
the gift of widening the vision, empowering the heart.

                           Thank you.

                                                        © Rafael Jesús González 2019

                                                                         Poet Laureate
City of Berkeley, California

Share this Post


  1. Rafael, you old hipster, you’ve said it neat! Carmen

  2. Hey Rafael,
    Nice piece of prose about poetry.
    I recently slid out of teaching journalism at Laney College after
    a “few” decades and googled you for advice on where I might submit
    a brief poem. I emailed you but
    it was returned. A better place to reach you?
    Best regards,

Leave a Comment