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2019 Latinx Scholar Jacob Saenz

Meet Jacob Saenz

Jacob Saenz is the author of Throwing the Crown, winner of the 2018 APR/Honickman First Book Prize. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in PANK, Poetry, Memorious, Tammy and other journals. A CantoMundo fellow, he’s been the recipient of a Letras Latinas Residency and a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship. He serves as an associate editor for RHINO.

On Being Named the 2019 Latinx Scholar

“On being named the 2019 Latinx Scholar: I’m deeply honored and grateful to the Frost Place for selecting me as the 2019 Latinx Scholar. I’m grateful, too, for the other Latinx writers and scholars that have come before and helped pave a way for me to be here. It’s been years since I’ve in a workshop and I cherish this opportunity to learn and develop my writing this summer. Thank you!”

A Poem by Jacob Saenz

The Bachelor Watches “The Bachelor”

I sit on the couch & witness my life
projected on a screen — I am white
w/a chiseled, dimpled chin & no lips.
I’m a farmer who lives alone in a loft
& not a lowly office worker who lives
w/a roommate in an apartment where
dust balls decorate the floors & walls
& the ceiling rings w/children’s feet
running back & forth like baby bulls.
I am crazy enough to be a contestant
on a show where I’m contractually obligated
to propose to a woman who believes
in a heteronormative, patriarchal
idea of what a family should be.
At the end of every episode, I offer
roses to those I wish to make out w/more
& take out on prepackaged romantic dates
I could never afford on my bachelor budget.
For example: a date in a castle, a glass
slipper prop, a clock winding its way
down to midnight. My date & I sip
champagne, chat & eat, then we dance
to a live orchestra led by a maestro
who wishes he were dead. A giant screen appears
& plays a clip of a live-action Cinderella movie
w/Prince Charming played by an actor
I’ve seen slaughter & behead a soldier
like clipping the head off a rose.
In real life, my dates consist of dinner
at Burger King where we dine on chicken
fries & don paper crowns for a royal feel.
On another show date, I take two women into South
Dakota where we fly over the heads of white
slave owners carved into a sacred Native mountain.
At the end of the date, I offer no roses to either
woman & abandon them on a canopied bed
in the middle of the Badlands & take off
in a helicopter to provide the cameras
an aerial view of wilderness & despair.
At the end of the show, I find myself proposing
to a fertility nurse in a barn made to look
like a chapel & not the place where I raised
my first horse, fucked my first goat. Here,
I will milk the cows for our future offspring
to drink straight from the teat like I did as a kid.
The show ends & I rise from the couch
& walk into the kitchen. On bended knee,
I reach for a bottle of beer deep
in the back of the fridge, pop the top
like a question & take a swig, cold
& crisp once it hits my full lips.
Source: Poetry (September 2017)