Lucian Mattison wins 2014 Dogfish Head Poetry Prize

Argentinian-inspired poetry wins 12th annual contest
January 21, 2015

Lucian Mattison of Norfolk, Va., has been named winner of the 2014 Dogfish Head Poetry Prize for his manuscript "Peregrine Nation."  The official presentation took place Dec. 13 at the Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton.

Mattison is a graduate student at Old Dominion University working toward his MFA in poetry. His winning manuscript is a reflection of his Argentinian heritage. According to one of the contest judges, Gerry LaFemina, “Lucian Mattison stamps our passport and welcomes us to the Peregrine Nation, a region of history both personal and shared.”

Two of the three judges attended the presentation party and gave readings before the winner was announced. LaFemina, director of Frostburg State University’s Creative Writing Center, read from his new collection, "Little Heretic," and read poems that he is preparing for an upcoming new collection. Diane Lockward, author of the best-selling "The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop," read from her latest collection, "Temptation by Water."  The third judge was Larry Woiwode, poet laureate of North Dakota.

This is the 12th year for the contest. The winner receives $500, two cases of Dogfish Head beer, and 10 copies of his or her winning book, published by Broadkill River Press.

The contest is open to residents of North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and the District of Columbia. The contest has no entry fee and is sponsored by Sam Calagione, a lit major in college and founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. Publication of the manuscript is supported by the Cape Gazette.

The prize was presented to Mattison by Andrew Greeley, former tour master at Dogfish Head and current innkeeper at the new Dogfish Inn in Lewes.

Mattison received a bit of razzing from the audience when it was learned that he works for O’Connor Brewery in Norfolk.  Greeley said, “We like to see the craft beer industry grow, and we like other craft breweries. Good poets love other good poets just like good craft breweries like others that are true to themselves and true to the art. It is an exploration of goodness that drives us, whether it be in brewing or writing.”

Contact to order Mattison's winning manuscript or for other offerings available.  Copies of "Peregrine Nation" are also available at the offices of the Cape Gazette, 17585 Nassau Commons Blvd., Lewes.

Here is the lead-off poem in Mattison's "Peregrine Nation":



I'm taught to shake out wet clothes, snap

an absent body's shape into the already worn,

my country an idea at arm's length,

distance more like an index

finger walking across a paper ocean,

map unpacked, crowded by lines and keys.


Beso a beso, me enamoré de ti.


It's easy to admire you by mistake,

regard country as a pregnant mother, her lit front

half rounded like the moon that hangs above.

Below her, we ask who drank all the wine?

What is it that actuality fills her tumid belly?

A wineskin and a pioneer bloodline

feel like enough of a nation in themselves, my tongue

the billow of celestial blue pointed out to sea.


Beso a beso, me enamoré de ti.


I weigh this nation in the same way

I've approached a photograph - a miniature

woman is in the palm of my hand when, in fact,

she stands hundreds of feet behind me,

subject in the foreground, a sleight of logic,

my hand the skiff buoying the image I sing -


Beso a beso, me enamoré de ti.



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