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AJ Romriell

Storyteller | Writer | Photographer | Educator

The Latest

Vandewater
Poetry Prize!

2022 Winner

2022 Vandewater Poetry Prize Winner
Judge's Comments
"'Alchemy: An Abridged Biography' braids together the incongruous in the tradition of non-fiction writing, while brief, episodic stanzas attempt to build towards (or alchemize towards) a cohesive narrative of the self. Where the poem fails, repeats, reattempts (“which also means it’s possible to transmute lead into gold / and death into life and me into—more or less—me”), it veers to the outer edges of its long, enjambed lines, even as it veers towards the edges of the universe (inherently always experienced by a self). Deeply philosophical and sonically evocative (“tilt my head back and lick glass clean”), “ALCHEMY” is the poem as a question that must endlessly be asked. Each time I read it I am profoundly moved."
Raena Shirali, author of GILT
Publication in
Great River Review!
Great River Review, Issue 68
Praise for "Piercing: A Schematic"
"I was immediately struck by the honesty and courage of this piece. Only the best essays can take something apparently simple or mundane—like getting one’s ears pierced—and peel back all the layers to reveal the beautiful complexity of such actions... It’s an essay--filled with rich detail and pitch-perfect dialogue--about addiction, identity, self-acceptance, and the messy complicated nature of brotherly love. As readers, we’re there in that moment with the author, feeling the weight of it all, when he says, “And when he tells me to breathe out, I hope my brother can breathe out with me,” and we realize we’ve had our breath taken away, too."
Steven Church, author of I'm Just Getting to the Disturbing Part and One with the Tiger