Winner of the 2022 Wolfson Press Poetry Chapbook Competition
by Renée Agatep
Introduction by Nancy Botkin
paperback, 45 pages
These poems celebrate reckless amazement. Small-town pain from Ohio finds itself suddenly grown up on the island of Madeira, possessed by a voice that speaks from understanding the mother, who suffers from mental illness, at work on the pole in a strip joint. We follow a schoolgirl through her summer of cheap sweets, mean friends, threats, and possibility. Later, we find ourselves abroad where that girl as a grown woman is a mother herself, buffeted by the difficulties of parental love. These poems have the power to take us places we have not been and to recognize the truth in what we did not know.
—Brooks Haxton, author of They Lift Their Wings to Cry
The poems in Renée Agatep’s Ohio Radio document the complicated relationship of a heartland native with a past that won’t stop announcing itself in the present. Whether it’s childhood trauma or adolescent love affairs, the characters in Agatep’s luminous poems appear as ghosts in the windows of memory, and the poems give those ghosts a home where they continue to haunt and mesmerize the reader who is lucky enough to hold this book in their hands. Unlike the songs that play so predictability on the Midwestern airwaves, the poems in Renée Agatep’s Ohio Radio are searing elegies for a place that can be left but not forgotten and that dwells in the consciousness of a poet who debuts their impressive talents in this collection.
—Christopher Kennedy, author of Clues from the Animal Kingdom and Ennui Prophet
There are a million ways Ohio will break your heart, and Renée Agatep is a cartographer of the love and lament specific to these borders. I would follow wherever her map leads – down into “the dark heart of it all,” beyond the Gorgon in the iron-frame bed, the wild chicory and violet, the “yellow-cast stains of Mansfield Correctional,” the brightest memories of mothers, the cut grass of eternity. Agatep may not “belong to Ohio or anyone else,” as she writes, but in these poems, Ohio is entirely hers.
—Ruth Awad, author of Set to Music a Wildfire
About the Author
Renée Agatep is an American poet and short story writer. She earned her master’s at Northeastern University and is a fellow in the Syracuse MFA program. She is the winner of the 2022 Wolfson Poetry Chapbook Prize. Renée is also a Best New Poets, Best Microfictions, and Best of the Net nominee. She is from rural Ohio and currently lives on a small island in the Atlantic.