2020 International Shortlist – Natalie Scenters-Zapico


Natalie Scenters-Zapico is a fronteriza from the sister cities of El Paso, Texas, USA, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México. Her first collection, The Verging Cities (2015), won the PEN America/Joyce Osterweil Award, GLCA’s New Writers Award, NACCS Foco Book Prize, and Utah Book Award. Lima :: Limón is her second collection. She has won fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, CantoMundo, and a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. Her poems have appeared in a wide range of anthologies and literary magazines, including Best American Poetry 2015, POETRY, Tin House, Kenyon Review, and more. She is currently teaching at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, USA.

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Judges Citation

“There is a driving, deliberate, righteous indignation to Lima :: Limón, a force that that will unsettle many readers though it is tempered with a mature and forgiving undersong of empathy and love. Natalie Scenters-Zapico is a fronteriza, a frontier dweller, a woman shaped by the contending cultures of Mexico and the USA. Her unflinching gaze is turned on machismo and marianismo, and the quotidian reality of community in crisis, in an elegant poetry that speaks through masks both sacred and profane. The shadow of femicide is never far, but the poet finds a redemptive magic in the voices of the mutilated, in the traditions of ancestors, in the salvific powers of language, in poems pushed to the very edge of what can be said.”

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