Franke Varca Wins "Discovery" Contest
Now in its fifth decade, the "Discovery" Poetry Contest is designed to attract large audiences to poets who have not yet published a book. This marks the fifth year that the Poetry Center has partnered with Boston Review to present the contest.
Many winners have gone on to distinguished careers as poets, among them Marilyn Hacker, Mark Strand, Nick Flynn and Lucille Clifton.
The four winners of the 2012 contest are Mario Chard, of Campbell, CA; Franke Varca, of New York, NY; Rebecca Hazelton, of Madison, WI; and Rosalie Moffett, of Lafayette, IN. They are awarded a reading at 92Y(set for Mon, May 7, at 8:15 pm, publication in Boston Review and $500 each.
The three runners-up are Justin Boening, of New York, NY; Xavier Cavazos, of Ames, IA; and Max Somers, of Champaign, IL.
Timothy Donnelly, poetry editor at Boston Review, and Monica Ferrell served as screeners. The final judges were Tony Hoagland, Lisa Russ Spaar and Arthur Sze.
The 2013 “Discovery”/Boston Review guidelines will be made available in the fall.
This contest is endowed by Joan L. and Dr. Julius H. Jacobson, II.
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Laura Kasischke Wins National Book Critics Circle Award
NBCC Award Winners for Publishing Year 2011
by Barbara Hoffert | Mar-08-2012
On Thursday, March 8, at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium, the National Book Critic Circle presented its awards for publishing year 2011. The prize in fiction went to Edith Pearlman for Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories
(Lookout Books), a collection of 34 Chekhov-like short stories that was also nominated for the National Book Award. The publication is the first from Lookout Books and a triumph for Pearlman’s distinctive storytelling, bringing it to a larger audience.
Nonfiction went to Maya Jasanoff for Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (Knopf), a book of fresh, original, and sprightly scholarship, by Harvard professor of British history Jasanoff, acknowledging colonists’ response to Loyalists during the Revolutionary War and the consequences for Britain’s entire empire thereafter.
The biography award went to John Lewis Gaddis for George F. Kennan: An American Life (Penguin Press), a book that brings alive the remarkable American statesman while also delivering a profound understanding of U.S. foreign policy in the 20th-century.
The poetry award went to Laura Kasischke for Space, in Chains (Copper Canyon Press), a formally inventive work that speaks to the horrors and delights of ordinary life in an utterly original way.
The autobiography award went to Mira Bartók for The Memory Palace: A Memoir (Free Press), a book that rose to the formal challenge of blending her mother’s journals, reflections on her mother’s mental illness and subsequent homelessness, and thoughts on her own recovery from a head injury to create a heartfelt yet respectful work of art.
The award for criticism went to Geoff Dyer for Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews (Graywolf Press), celebrating critic par excellence who showed his love of his various subject in tour-de-force language.
Kathryn Schulz was presented the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, introduced by Carolyn Kellogg, and Roberts B. Silvers of the New York Review of Books was presented the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, introduced by Steven G. Kellman and Daniel Mendelsohn
The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC), a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, honors outstanding writing and fosters a national conversation about reading, criticism, and literature. It was founded in 1974 to encourage and raise the quality of book criticism in all media and to create a way for critics to communicate with one another about their professional concerns. It consists of about 600 active book reviewers.
In addition to the annual book awards, each year the NBCC salutes the most accomplished reviewer from within the membership with the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. Members of the NBCC communicate through the organization’s website (www.bookcritics.org) and at an annual membership meeting in New York City.
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Khaled Mattawa's Tocqueville Wins Poetry Center Book Award
The Poetry Center is pleased to announce that Khaled Mattawa's Tocqueville
(New Issues Poetry and Prose, Western Michigan University, 2010) has been selected by award judge Ravi Shankar to receive the annual Poetry Center Book Award.
The Poetry Center Book Award has been presented annually by The Poetry Center, San Francisco State University since 1980 to a single outstanding book of poetry published in the previous year. The Poetry Center Book Award carries a cash prize and an invitation to read, along with the award judge, at The Poetry Center in San Francisco.
Ravi Shankar on Khaled Mattawa’s Tocqueville:
As Alexis de Tocqueville, referenced in Mattawa’s title, has written, “history is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies.” Mattawa's book is one of these true originals that substantially deepens our notion of what a poem can do and what shape it might take.
In the long title sequence, “Tocqueville,” Mattawa invents a new form that partakes of the postmodern impulse towards pastiche but reconfigures this by taking the actual oral histories of a group of Somali citizens from Mogadishu and juxtaposing excerpts from their stories alongside allusions and quotations from such folks as Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, Walt Whitman,Vijay Prashad, and of course Alexis de Tocqueville. What emerges, incredibly, is not a disparate hodgepodge but a remarkably moving document that ranges across history and lyric, confession and epistle, to point at the ways in which American democracy is complicit in the suffering being manifest in the far reaches of the globe, that there is no workable rhetoric of “us” versus “them,” but simply vectors of power and capital that run resistance to our shared humanity.
In other poems, such as the ones entitled “Power Point,” Mattawa again stretches the possibilities of form, using the language of film (flashbacks, cuts, exterior and pan shots), unseen visual representations (“insert Image here”), along with tables and charts that delve into the human psyche (including the brilliant grief, consolation, reverence and redemption matrices which use quasi-scientific taxonomy to penetrate the ideologies of abstraction on a case-by-case basis). It's rare to encounter such experimental and avant-garde poems that deepen in signification, emotion, and paradoxically in legibility because of the radical techniques being deployed.
Finally what is most striking about this collection is the way it literalizes Walter Benjamin’s notion of the angel of history, turned towards the past but propelled towards the future, a place where culture is not national but global, where American society is not insulated from the rest of the world, but part and parcel of it, and where readers of poetry take responsibility for cultivating a greater social consciousness, all the while innovating with form and introducing elements from technology and the media that have seldom had a place in contemporary poetry. There’s an urgency to Mattawa's poems that's tempered by a lyricism that asserts “somewhere beyond faith and grace there is / the footprint of logic lost in the purest light.”
This is a book of extraordinary courage, that helps give voice to the voiceless and that sees, even in those we would demonize as terrorists, a shared destiny. For all of its ambition, innovation, and empathy, Khaled Mattawa's Tocqueville is a stunning collection of verse that by utilizing the tools of modernity helps us construe where we are, how we arrived, and where we can go from here.
In addition to the winning book I'd like to highlight the following outstanding collections, as runners up:
Lynn Emanuel, Noose and Hook (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Tom Yuill, Medicine Show (University of Chicago Press)
Khaled Mattawa was born in Benghazi, Libya, in 1964 and immigrated to the United States in 1979. He received an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University and a Ph.D from Duke University. Mattawa is the author of four books of poetry, Tocqueville (New Issues Press, 2010), Amorisco (Ausable Press, 2008), Zodiac of Echoes (Ausable Press, 2003) and Ismailia Eclipse (Sheep Meadow Press, 1996). He has translated nine books of contemporary Arabic poetry by Adonis, Saadi Youssef, Fadhil Al-Azzawi, Hatif Janabi, Maram Al-Massri, Joumana Haddad, Amjad Nasser, and Iman Mersal, and has co-edited two anthologies of Arab American literature.
Mattawa’s latest volume of poetry, Tocqueville (New Issues Poetry and Prose, Western Michigan University, 2010) won the 2011 Poetry Center Book Award, selected by Ravi Shankar, as well as the Arab American National Book Award. His translation of Adonis’s Selected Poems won the PEN USA Center annual poetry in translation prize. He is a currently Associate Professor of English at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Ravi Shankar is the founding editor and Executive Director of Drunken Boat, one of the world's oldest electronic journals of the arts. He has published or edited seven books and chapbooks of poetry, including the 2010 National Poetry Review Prize winner, Deepening Groove. Along with Tina Chang and Nathalie Handal, he edited W.W. Norton's Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from Asia, the Middle East & Beyond, called “a beautiful achievement for world literature” by Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer. He has won a Pushcart Prize, been featured in The New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education, appeared as a commentator on the BBC and NPR, received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, and has performed his work around the world. He is currently Chairman of the Connecticut Young Writers Trust, on the faculty of the first international MFA Program at City University of Hong Kong and an Associate Professor of English at CCSU.
The Poetry Center Book Award
The Poetry Center Book Award has been presented annually since 1980 by The Poetry Center, San Francisco State University, to a single outstanding book of poetry published in the prior year. The Poetry Center Book Award carries a cash prize and an invitation to read, along with the award judge, at The Poetry Center in San Francisco.
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Laura Kasischke Wins Inaugural Rilke Prize
Last August, the University of North Texas’ Creative Writing Program announced it was inaugurating a $10,000 poetry prize named for the great German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, best known for the “Duino Elegies.” The Rilke Prize is designed to recognize a book published in the previous year that ‘demonstrates exceptional artistry and vision written by a mid-career poet” — the ‘mid-career’ part makes it unusual among poetry awards.
The first poetry collection to win the Rilke is Laura Kasischke’s Space, in Chains, published by Copper Canyon Press — it was a New York Times Notable Book for 2011 and is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award (NBCC winners will be announced March 8).The UNT judges declare that Kasischke’s writing “reveals a penetrating insight into what makes people work and not work through her characteristic emotional range, wit, surprising and uncanny imagery.”
In The New York Times Sunday Book Review, Stephen Burt said that of Kasischke’s books, Space, in Chains might be the “most ambitious — and the most disturbing, as it strives to comprehend first and last things…. No poet has tried so hard to cut through suburban American illusion while respecting the lives, young and old, that it nurtures or saves. ”
Personally, I happen to love “The photograph album in a junk shop” — which lists the various photo images (“the shadow of that terrible / animal with horns / at every petting zoo”) and concludes with Grandma — “her face waits on every page / like an axe left behind on the moon.” And there’s an aside in Kasischke’s opening to “Time.” She mentions “a twentieth-century dream of Europe” — and then helpfully adds, “all horrors, and pastries.”
A succinct, 21st-century update to Stephen Dedalus’ “shattered glass and toppling masonry.”
The Rilke prize rules stipulate the poet must come to UNT. Kasischke, who teaches at the University of Michigan, will be giving a reading at UNT April 19, and another at the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture April 20.
Laura Kasischke has written seven previous poetry collections and eight novels, including The Life Before Her Eyes, which was made into a 2007 film starring Uma Thurman, and Suspicious River, which became a 2000 film with Molly Parker. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA grants and several Pushcart Prizes.
Rilke Prize entrants must have published at least two previous books of poetry, and the book of poetry to be considered must have been published the previous year. The three finalists for the first Rilke Prize were: Kevin Prufer’s In a Beautiful Country, Dana Levin’s Sky Burial and Wayne Miller’s The City, Our City.
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Jaswinder Bolina Wins 2012 Green Rose Prize
From New Issues Press:
We are pleased to announce the winner of the 2012 Green Rose Prize: Jaswinder Bolina for his manuscript Phantom Camera. Bolina wins a $2,000 award and publication of his manuscript in the spring of 2013.
Jaswinder Bolina is the author of Carrier Wave
, winner of the 2006 Colorado Prize for Poetry. His recent work has appeared in Black Warrior Review
, Columbia Poetry Review
, the Offending Adam
, and in the Best American Poetry 2011
. He currently lives and teaches in Athens, Ohio, as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English at Ohio University.
The Green Rose Prize is awarded to an author who has previously published at least one full-length book of poems. Winners are chosen by the editors of New Issues Press. Guidelines are available on our website.
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