2020 Hudson Prize Winner :: Ananda Lima


We’re so pleased to announce that we have chosen a winner for the 2020 Hudson Prize. A big, heartfelt congratulations goes to Ananda Lima for winning the prize with her poetry collection Mother/land. Congratulations also  to this year’s finalists and semi-finalists. Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2020 Hudson Prize!

Ananda Lima’s work has appeared or is upcoming in The American Poetry Review, Poets.org, Kenyon Review Online, Gulf Coast, Jubilat, The Common, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. She is the author of the chapbooks Translation (Paper Nautilus, 2019, winner of the 2018 Vella Chapbook Prize), Tropicália (Newfound, forthcoming, winner of the 2020 Newfound Prose Prize) and Amblyopia (forthcoming, Bull City Press – INCH micro-chapbook series). She has an MA in Linguistics from UCLA and an MFA in Creative Writing in Fiction from Rutgers University, Newark. 

Selections from Mother/land

Inflight Entertainment while the Doomsday Seed Bank is Breached

My son’s face is blue
with the soft light of Ice
Age falling on his round cheeks
the voices in the animation contained
by the cups of his child-sized earphones
muffled by the shush of turbines
so constant, so similar to the soothing
sound of waves, we forget the aggression
of their volume

On his screen the body
of a desperate little mammal
is repeatedly crushed by gravity
rocks and metal, the creature still
unable to reach the nut, as its head is smashed
between two stainless steel plates, its eyes bulging
out of their sockets and my son laughs, he understands
what is expected of him now

In this type of movie, there are always good
guys who always win. When we walked in the dim amber
light in the Natural History Museum, surrounded
by bones, we were told we were the sole survivors
the lonely branch of the human family tree
because of our superb adaptability
and we chose to differentiate
ourselves from the dead
with a postfix

The picture of the Global Seed Vault
in the Arctic made me think
of architecture and the architect
who said “a vida é um sopro”
life is a breath, at that speed
the floor of the poet’s green room
is damp, now wet, now water covers the wrought
iron feet of the bed where she sleeps with her lover

and water fills the Natural History Museum
and we float above the tallest of bone structures
our heads tilt against the ceiling
as we drink from the mouth of a whale
the last sliver of air and I hum
and hold my son’s hand
and I think of the cow carcasses
in the drought-cracked soil of the Northeast

The walls in China, Germany, Palestine, the barbed-wired
wall around my mother’s condominium and the futile future
walls sprout one after another in an accelerating stop
-motion video, then blur, then crumble
and soon there will be no need for green
camouflage uniforms, gone will be the beautiful
armaments celebrated in the old news, gone is music,
gone is the green of money and the green poetry, gone
were the paintings and recordings in museums, mathematics
gone, long gone have been architecture and those seeds
in the abandoned coal mine in the Arctic

On the colorless surface of the moon
imprinted in its sterile dust, undisturbed
by wind or water, there will always remain
a footprint

But for now, I turn my screen to a map of our journey
our airplane tiny, surrounded by blue



I inherited from my mother
the knobbly joints and square ends
of my fingers
from my father, I got the habit of biting
my nails
their shortness, the frayed missing skin
had never bothered me
but now I have a son
and he has begun to bite too

In America, I learned that I can snap
a rubber band against my wrist
each time my hand reaches up
towards the mouth

On the back of my hand
the rubber band disappears
into the color of my skin
but when I turn and face the inner side
it is a clear division
of my body

The first time I saw a cotton tree
I found it beautiful
the cotton so white in its brown cradle
so soft against the squares tips of my fingers
I squeezed the dead flower around it
and felt joy
from hearing it crackle

As children, we had cups full of sugar
cane we chewed on it and spit
out the bagasse
toothless men ran the knobbly stalks
through a machine, the juice
trickled into our glasses
and the flat piece that came out
on the other side
was put through it again
until everything was gone
the dry split stalk thrown into a pile
limp like blond hair

When I first arrived in America, I didn’t understand
what people meant when they said
with an American accent that they were
Irish or Italian or French
Now that I understand
I asked my mother for a family
She said
she had never thought of such things
and she wouldn’t know much past
her grandmother’s first name
So what I have is my memory
of the faces of my relatives
and my own

When I first arrived in America, all I could see
was beauty
the snow fine like sugar
white like cotton
But now the beauty
the land, the tired
just make me sad

Before I left for America, I saw an individual
in the mirror
but today, I see my father, my mother, my brothers
my son
and a man missing skin
from tears on his back
and the man who did it
When I looked this morning,
I tugged on my rubber band
so hard
that it broke