“The Oldest Forest” by Jennifer Harrison came in 2nd place for the 2022 Sappho Prize, selected by guest judge Jos Charles. We’re honored to share this stunning poem with you.
Meaning might initiate the logic of diction as much as the other way around. “The Oldest Forest” refers to water’s vegetations, sure, but the sonic world of this poem—digging up the Latinate and Germanic up and out—is a forest too. The sea, too, a forest. And what those who speak this forest-language, have drowned, and still do, here. What waves, unprompted, might roll back. —Jos Charles, guest judge