Hillary Hansen – Keith & Rosmarie Waldrop Prize, 2021

This is a remarkable text using translation, mainly, but also etymology and analysis of prefixes, to talk about family history.

The heart of the work, both graphically and thematically, is exploring the gaps in knowing /understanding /empathy that are so central to our lives. But which on closer examination prove to be "doors opening onto doors opening onto doors...." (A most poignant moment occurs with the speaker's (originally German) mother on the phone: "if you ever want to chat, give me a hollow.")

The transitions between—and fusion of—the modes of analysis, association, narrative, and poetry are breathtaking—and emotionally powerful. For the gap, the hole is also a wound, made explicit toward the end: 

 

"...for me, the process often feels like flaying:  


stripping away to reveal something that had been verdeckt, covered over, just out of reach.


As I work, the unknown word punctures through the paper’s surface and a milky fog floods from that point—— "