To celebrate the release of our new spring Editors’ Prize issue, 38.1, we’re delighted to feature a poem by our prize-winning poet Alexandra Teague. Teague is the author of Mortal Geography, winner of Persea Books’ 2009 Lexi Rudnitsky Prize and 2010 California Book Award, and the newly published The Wise and Foolish Builders. The recipient of a Stegner Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Teague is Assistant Professor of Poetry at University of Idaho and an editor for Broadsided Press.
Very uncharacteristically, “Ofelia Has Not Seen Even One of the Seven Wonders of the World and People Keep Making New Lists” began with a title, which stayed on my mind for about six months before I wrote the poem. Originally inspired by a sign for Ofelia’s Knife City in Arizona, Ofelia is a character who has appeared in several of my recent poems: my imagined tough survivor version of her tragic namesake. Earlier poems have been more about her biography (of sorts)—her “playing like a girl” or never being a cheerleader, or sharpening her knives—but this poem takes on a preoccupation that I didn’t know she (or I) had. After the first line, I could clearly hear the tone, and the poem unfolded (with a bit of research, a trip to a county fair, and a failed attempt to go see the aurora borealis) from there.
Ofelia Has Not Seen Even One of the Seven Wonders of the World,
and People Keep Making New Lists