Yvanna Vien Tica Wins a 2024 Zócalo Poetry Prize Honorable Mention Award

Yvanna Vien Tica (above) wins a 2024 Zócalo Poetry Prize honorable mention for "Bildungsroman." Courtesy of Yvanna Vien Tica.

Every year, we award the annual Zócalo Poetry Prize to the poem that best evokes a connection to place. Zócalo is pleased to recognize four honorable mention submissions for 2024.


—after Frederic Edwin Church’s “Mt. Ktaadn”


because the trees carry no names;
because the peaks spear the sky

like nails biting into familiar mangoes;
because I had not spoken Tagalog in weeks;

because my mother had texted me a picture
of the first red berries of our aratilis tree;

because the painted cows bowed like the cows
on my grandfather’s farm, their jowls

sagged with age; because in the second before
I read the description, I mistook this American

mountain for the gentler slopes of Mount Makiling;
because our myths believe Mount Makiling is the fossilized

body of a kind goddess or an alternate Calypso
spiriting men away into marital happiness;

because, like the boy in the corner of the painting,
I had also trusted our aratilis tree to bear my weight

those young evenings I had plotted to leave—leaving being the central
conflict I assume he has also chosen; because, like me, the boy would not

withhold anything from a goddess who whisks him home;
because, like me, he could grow to forget time’s distance;

because from that distance our lives held
the same inexplicable element of loss.

Yvanna Vien Tica is a Filipina writer with a hearing impairment and grew up in Manila and a suburb near Chicago. In her spare time, she can be found thanking God for another day. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in TriQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, and Redivider, among others.
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