NEA Literature Fellowships

Jose Perez Beduya

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(2013 - Poetry)

The Reunification of the Body

Stay down beside your confirmation number
And be someone's garden

The orders of magnitude will mount
            And thunder past us

This is the part

When you put everything away
                      Where no one can tell

The difference between the wind
And a human being

                      The haze has migrated to the other eye

Cracks have begun at the knees
                      And green-grey wilt in the waist

                      And wrists of the everlasting

Remember that you fell

When you speak again

            Use your wilderness   
                      Not your factory voice

(first appeared in Ploughshares, 2008)

Jose Perez Beduya is the author of Throng (&Now Books, 2012), selected by Jennifer Moxley for the Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer's Residency Prize. A graduate of Cornell University's MFA program, he has received fellowships from the Santa Fe Art Institute and the New York Foundation for the Arts. His poems have appeared in the Beloit Poetry Journal, Boston Review, Colorado Review, Fence, High Chair, Lana Turner, Ploughshares, and the Toadsuck Review.

A transplant from Manila, Philippines, he lives in Ithaca, New York, with his wife, Jessica del Mundo, and their two cats, Pablo and Nona. He is working on his second collection.

Photo by Jessica del Mundo

Author's Statement

It's been argued that once a gift is recognized as a gift, it inescapably enters an economy of expectation and calculation. When a gift is also the gift of recognition, this quandary doubles.

The NEA fellowship is one such tremendous gift, conferring both awe and anxiety. But what makes this fellowship--as well as other gifts in support of the arts--wonderful, bearable, and necessary is its promotion of risk and its power to stimulate vital self-doubt, as much as confidence. It sponsors creativity and experimentation that exceeds the circuit of return. Therein lies its magic.

When I reflect on receiving the fellowship, I think about the contours and heft of this gift--its material generosity and yet also its ghostly force. I feel its presence as I write, knowing that it is only ever partially earned, that it is perpetually deferred and pointing to an unrelenting future music.