Award Winners / Artist Profile

About the Artist

Oliver de la Paz (Deming) received 2009 GAP Award funding for purchasing a laptop computer in aiding the creation of a poetry book manuscript titled Grace Equations. The poems are biographical and theological in nature, deep-rooted observations that wrestle with the speaker’s new identity as a father in a world filed with strife. Oliver’s meditations on Eschatology incorporate his interests in the notion of grace, meaning, and the afterlife.

Information included above was provided by artist at the time of application.
From the Artist

The poet John Keats, who’s recently back in the news because of a new Jane Campion film, once wrote so lyrically of solitude—that it is the “soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be/ Almost the highest bliss of human kind…” And indeed, for a month I was presented with such a gift—such an uplifting soul’s pleasure. I want to thank Artist Trust and the Hafer Family Foundation for inviting me to stay at this beautiful Camano Island home for a month-long residency.

During the month I stayed at the house, I worked on several projects at once. I put the finishing touches on my third manuscript, Requiem for the Orchard, and sent the manuscript out to several publishers and poetry contests. I was very fortunate to discover during this residency that Requiem for the Orchard was the winner of the 2009 Akron Poetry Prize, selected by Martìn Espada, and will be published by the University of Akron Press in 2010. At first, after that burst of good news, I thought I’d find it difficult to get back to the writing desk, but being at the Camano Island retreat certainly guided my focus back to the writing desk. I managed to draft a fourth manuscript that is a sequence of epistolary prose poems, tentatively entitled Post, Havoc: A Fable. The poems in the newest manuscript have started to find homes in various journals and presses, and I recently received word that Black Warrior Review wishes to publish half of the manuscript as a chapbook.

In my daily life, it’s difficult to get even the simplest writing tasks done at home because I’m so busy with household chores, teaching and parenting. I wrote and read as much as I could while I was on Camano Island. But I also used the gift of time to relax. Some days, instead of writing, I wound up walking around the island and taking in the sights. As a poet, I find that my work often deals with the grim, the harrowing, and the inscrutable, and during my life outside of the residency, I find that it is hard to sit down at the writing desk and channel the impossible world into concise lines without the assistance of time and contemplation. The lovely house overlooking the bay afforded me that time. At night I could see the light off of some of the small sailboats in the harbor. And during the brief rainstorms, I watched the clouds blow in from over the ocean and curl upwards against the Cascades. The marvelous deck of the house was a place where I often read whole books from cover to cover as morning gave way to afternoon.

The month went by very quickly, and I left the island with a new book, a new project, a mind full of beauty and rest, and a new excitement about my work. Again, I want to thank Artist Trust and the Hafer Family Foundation for the honor.

Oliver de la Paz