“My choice for the award is Doe—that book is so good, so well executed with such difficult subject matter. I admire its active courage, its commitment to witnessing what so many reject. It stayed with me through reading all the others—fantastic books, the lot of them. But Doe is a game changer, a silence eliminator.”
—Allison Joseph, 2016 Akron Poetry Prize judge
In selecting Doe, [for the Eugene Paul Nassar Award] judge Naomi Guttman wrote: My choice for the 2018 Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize is Aimée Baker’s Doe, published by The University of Akron Press. A terrible beauty is born in this book-length elegy for female victims of kidnapping, rape, torture, and murder; the presumed dead, the disappeared, and the unidentified. These last, for whom the book is named, remind us of women’s universal vulnerability as the hunted gender. In language both violent and tender, the book exhumes the cases of women from across the continent and the century, bearing witness to their spirits, prayers, and passions. Doe is a suite of gorgeously orchestrated poems that remind us not to turn away from the news. Instead, it commands us to resist injustice with the compassion that only art can bring to life. I wholly admire this haunting, stunning, and necessary book, and I endorse it with no reservations.
Doe began as Baker’s attempt to understand and process the news coverage of a single unidentified woman whose body was thrown from a car leaving Phoenix, Arizona. It soon grew into a seven-year-long project with the goal to document, mourn, and witness the stories of missing and unidentified women in the United States.