Category Archives: Poetry

Submissions now open for Wisconsin Poetry Prizes!

The Wisconsin Prize for Poetry in Translation

Submissions are now open for the first annual Wisconsin Prize for Poetry in Translation! Our inaugural judge will be Forrest Gander, a Pulitzer Prize–winning writer and the translator of more than twenty books. Gander is also a winner of the Best Translated Book Award and grants from the PEN Translation Fund.

Translators or original authors are invited to submit a book-length manuscript, including all poems in both their original language and their English translation. The translations submitted must be previously unpublished in book form. Simultaneous submissions are permitted as long as the applicant withdraws the manuscript if it is accepted elsewhere. The winning manuscript will be awarded $1,500 and will be published by the University of Wisconsin Press in the spring of 2024, alongside the winners of our annual Brittingham & Felix Pollak Prizes in Poetry. Submissions will remain open until September 15, 2022, through Submittable (click here).

Applicants are asked to confirm they hold the rights to their translations before preparing a manuscript in pdf format, including the following:

  • A simple title page, which should include the names of the original author(s) and translator(s).
  • A table of contents, with accurate page numbers indicated.
  • 75 to 150 pages of poetry, including all poems in both their original language and translated into English, with numbered pages.
  • A biography page, including 50- to 250-word bios for each author and translator.
  • A project description that addresses the book’s historical, cultural, and/or artistic significance.
  • An acknowledgments page (optional, if any translations are previously published).

Submit to the Brittingham & Felix Pollak Prizes

The Brittingham & Felix Pollak Prizes in Poetry are now open for submission as well! This year’s $1,500 prizes will be judged by National Book Award long-lister and Yale Series of Younger Poets prizewinner Eduardo C. Corral. Any poet with an original, full-length, yet-to-be-published collection is eligible, and each submitted manuscript will be considered for both prizes. The winners and up to four other finalists will have their books published as part of the University of Wisconsin Press’s Wisconsin Poetry Series. This year’s submission deadline is Thursday, September 15.

Before visiting our Submittable page, please assemble a single pdf including a title page, a table of contents, your poems, and (optionally) an acknowledgments page listing any magazines or journals where the submitted poems may have first appeared. Your name and contact info should not appear anywhere in the document, or in the pdf file name. Manuscripts should be fifty to ninety pages in length on 8.5″ x 11″ pdf pages.

Simultaneous submissions are permitted as long as the author agrees to withdraw the manuscript via the submissions manager if it is accepted elsewhere. If you have any questions, please first consult our FAQ. If you don’t find your answer, query series editors Sean Bishop and Jesse Lee Kercheval at poetryseries@english.wisc.edu.

About This Year’s Judges

Forrest Gander, a Pulitzer Prize–winning writer and translator with degrees in geology and literature, was born in the Mojave Desert and lives in northern California. His most recent book is Twice Alive: An Ecology of Intimacies. Among his recent translations are It Must Be a Misunderstanding by Coral Bracho, Names and Rivers by Shuri Kido (with Tomoyuki Endo), Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda Poems, and Spectacle & Pigsty by Kiwao Nomura, winner of the Best Translated Book Award. Gander’s essays have appeared in The Nation, the Boston Review, and the New York Times Book Review. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim, Howard, United States Artists, and Whiting Foundations.

Eduardo C. Corral is the author of Guillotine, longlisted for the National Book Award, and Slow Lightning, which won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition. He’s the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship, a Whiting Writer’s Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University. He teaches in the MFA program at North Carolina State University.

About the University of Wisconsin Press

The University of Wisconsin Press is a not-for-profit publisher of books and journals. With nearly 1,500 titles and over 8,000 peer-reviewed articles in print, its mission embodies the Wisconsin Idea by publishing work of distinction that serves the people of Wisconsin and the world. 

For more information on the Wisconsin Poetry Prizes, please visit https://uwpress.wisc.edu/series/wi-poetry.html.

ANNOUNCING CHANGES TO THE WISCONSIN POETRY SERIES: NEW EDITORSHIP, NEW TRANSLATION PRIZE

The University of Wisconsin Press and the Creative Writing Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison today announced that Ron Wallace, founding editor of the Wisconsin Poetry Series, has stepped down as editor of the series. Jesse Lee Kercheval has joined Sean Bishop as series coeditor, effective early 2022.

Founder and former director of UW’s Program in Creative Writing, Ron Wallace is Felix Pollak Professor Emeritus of Poetry and Halls-Bascom Professor of English at UW–Madison. In 1985, Professor Wallace proposed the idea of a poetry prize to then UW Press director Allen Fitchen, and the Brittingham Prize was established. Creation of the Felix Pollak and Four Lakes Prizes followed. Sean Bishop began working on the series a number of years ago; in recognition of his efforts and contributions, he was named coeditor in 2019. The series receives nearly 1,000 submissions annually. 

Series founder Ron Wallace, who retires from his editorship after thirty-seven years, is the author of several scholarly books and a book of short stories as well as nine full-length books of poetry and eight chapbooks of poetry and fiction. His most recent poetry collections are The Uses of AdversityLong for This World: New & Selected Poems, For a Limited Time Only, and For Dear Life, and he is the author of a major anthology, Vital Signs: Contemporary Poetry from the University Presses. Hailed for his wit, good humor, and observational powers, Professor Wallace has been the recipient of such awards as the Banta Book Prize, the Posner Book-Length Poetry Award, and the Wisconsin Library Association Outstanding Achievement Award. His numerous accolades include three UW distinguished teaching awards and the George Garrett Award from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. 

Sean Bishop says, “Ron Wallace has been the heart of the Wisconsin Poetry Series for almost forty years, expanding the series from just one slim volume per year to six annual titles. Ron prided himself on reading at least a portion of every book submitted to our annual competition—roughly twenty-five thousand manuscripts in the lifetime of the series—and his personal notes to applicants were legendary for their insight and generosity. Incoming editor Jesse Lee Kercheval and I are excited to carry Ron’s legacy forward for many years to come, and we hope we can live up to his stunning precedent.”

Incoming series coeditor Jesse Lee Kercheval, Zona Gale Emeritus Professor of English at UW–Madison, is the author of six collections of poetry as well as a translator. Her latest poetry collections are America that island off the coast of France (Tupelo Press, 2019), winner of the Dorset Prize; and La crisis es el cuerpo, translated by Ezequiel Zaidenwerg (Editorial Bajo la luna, Argentina, 2021). Her collection I Want to Tell You is forthcoming from the University of Pittsburgh Press. As a translator, she specializes in Uruguayan and South American poetry; her translations include Love Poems by Idea Vilariño (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020), which was long-listed for the PEN Translation AwardShe is also the editor of several anthologies, including América invertida: An Anthology of Emerging Uruguayan Poets (University of New Mexico Press, 2016). She has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts in both fiction and translation.

Along with the editorial changes, the University of Wisconsin Press also announced the establishment of a new prize for a collection of poetry in translation. The winning collection will be published in the series, alongside the winners of the Brittingham, Felix Pollak, and Four Lakes Prizes and three finalist collections. Manuscripts submitted for the translation prize will be judged during the same period as those submitted for the other prizes, and the winner will receive a $1,500 prize in addition to publication in the series.

“Over the years, I’ve watched with great admiration as Ron Wallace built the Wisconsin Poetry Series,” says Jesse Lee Kercheval. “As he steps down, I am honored to become coeditor of the series with Sean Bishop and, as a translator and poet, truly excited for the launch of the new translation prize.”

“It is with mixed emotions that I face this transition in the leadership of the Wisconsin Poetry Series. Joy over having the opportunity to work with Ron for several years, and sadness that those days are coming to an end. I have learned so much from him as an editor, watching the way he celebrates strong work and encourages authors to improve to find their greatest potential,” says UW Press director Dennis Lloyd. “At the same time, I’m very enthusiastic about working with Sean and Jesse Lee in the years to come, especially as we launch the new poetry in translation prize. With this announcement, we’ve managed to complete a long-planned goal of increasing the annual output of the series from three titles to seven.”

The winners of this year’s competition were announced earlier this month. Submissions for the next competition, including the first translation prize, will be accepted between July 15 and September 15, 2022. 

About the University of Wisconsin Press

The University of Wisconsin Press is a not-for-profit publisher of books and journals. With nearly 1,500 titles and over 8,000 peer-reviewed articles in print, its mission embodies the Wisconsin Idea by publishing work of distinction that serves the people of Wisconsin and the world. 

For more information on the Wisconsin Poetry Prizes, please visit https://uwpress.wisc.edu/series/wi-poetry.html.

ANNOUNCING THE RESULTS OF THE WISCONSIN POETRY PRIZE COMPETITION

Out of more than 900 entrants, Jameka Williams has been selected as the winner of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry and Emily Bludworth de Barrios has been named the winner of the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. Each will receive $1,500, and their collections will be published this fall by the University of Wisconsin Press. In addition, Betsy Sholl has been named winner of the Four Lakes Poetry Prize, and her collection also will be published this fall. Next spring, the University of Wisconsin Press will publish finalist collections by Joshua Burton, Dante di Stefano, and Celeste Lipkes.

Brian Teare, editor of Albion Books, served as this year’s contest judge. He is the author of six poetry collections, including Doomstead Days (2019), which was longlisted for the National Book Award and named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Empty Form Goes All the Way to Heaven (2015); and Companion Grasses (2013).

Jameka Williams holds an MFA in poetry from Northwestern University. Her poetry has been published in Prelude MagazineGigantic SequinsMuzzle MagazineYemassee JournalTupelo QuarterlyJet Fuel Review, and Oyez Review, among others. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has performed her poetry at AWP in 2016 and POETRY Magazine’s Open Door Reading Series in 2021. She is a Best New Poets 2020 finalist, published annually by the University of Virginia, and is featured in New American Press’s New Poetry of the Midwest 2019. She resides in Chicago, Illinois. 

About the Brittingham-winning volume, Brian Teare says, “Split between the love of watching and the fear created by it, American Sex Tape guides us through celebrity’s media empire, where ‘men / are cameras’ and the objectified self reproduces the dominant culture one selfie at a time. ‘I think a lot about empires,’ Jameka Williams writes, ‘& how I am supposed / to finish erecting this one,’ before she demolishes misogynist, racist logic with weaponized line breaks and wrecking-ball wit. And then does something stranger, braver: she looks into the camera. Because this is a book about taking back power, it’s also about the thin line between pleasure and collusion. ‘I love to see it,’ she admits, ‘I love to live inside that camera’s eye orgasm.’ Complex and messy and necessary in all the ways sex is, American Sex Tape is brilliant Black feminist truth.”

Emily Bludworth de Barrios, winner of the Felix Pollak Prize, is a poet whose books and chapbooks include Women, Money, Children, Ghosts (Sixth Finch, 2016), Splendor (H_NGM_N, 2015), and Extraordinary Power (Factory Hollow Press, 2014). Her poems have recently appeared in publications such as the Poetry ReviewHarvard Review, and the Cincinnati Review. She was raised in Houston, Cairo, and Caracas, and now lives in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, with her husband and three children. 

“Marrying novelistic breadth and autobiographical intimacy, Shopping or The End of Time invents a new poetic genre: the sociolyric,” says Brian Teare. “Impersonal and personal at once, these poems shift from collective to individual experience with dizzying rapidity. Their deft lines jump-cut across social experiences connected inequitably by a consumer culture thriving on violence against women and the Earth’s accelerating destruction. And yet buying power is ‘such an intricate trick that we felt that we were finally entering ourselves,’ Emily Bludworth de Barrios writes, ‘our human inheritance.’ Refusing to remain fooled about the ways our psyches are manipulated by capitalism and complicit with its destructive power, her speakers insist on documenting the pleasures and collateral damage of such inheritance, each ‘jagged poem’ fashioned ‘to put the remnants in.’ This is an innovative collection with impressive critical and emotional range.”

Betsy Sholl’s As if a Song Could Save You, winner of the Four Lakes Poetry Prize, will also be published this fall. Sholl is the author of nine previous poetry collections, including House of Sparrows: New and Selected Poems (winner of the 2019 Four Lakes Prize), Otherwise Unseeable (winner of the 2014 Four Lakes Prize), Rough CradleLate PsalmDon’t Explain (winner of the 1997 Felix Pollak Prize), and The Red Line. A former poet laureate of Maine, Sholl teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

“Attuned as she is to harmony—musical, spiritual, earthly—Sholl weaves seemingly miscellaneous notes into vibrant wholes. She references Dante more than once and it’s apt, for she is very much a pilgrim, someone who conveys the feeling of being in it—the tangle that is a moment, a street scene, a biblical incident. It could be anything—and is—and that is a key to her achievement, her openness to the ways of being, the here and now, the terribly lost and barely found.  Great compassion marks these poems, that inestimable talent for tracing the ways of kinship, how one occasion graces another,” says Baron Wormser.

Joshua Burton is a poet and educator from Houston, Texas, and received his MFA in poetry at Syracuse University. He is a 2019 Tin House Winter Workshop Scholar, 2019 Juniper Summer Writing Institute scholarship winner, and 2019 Center for African American Poetry and Poetics fellowship finalist. He received the Honorable Mention for the 2018 Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize and was a 2020 Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing finalist. His work can be found in Mississippi ReviewGulf CoastThe RumpusConduit, and TriQuarterly, and is forthcoming in Black Warrior ReviewGrist, and Indiana Review. He has a chapbook forthcoming in the fall of 2022. Mary Karr says, “No poet I’ve worked with in forty years’ teaching has wowed me more with his talent & smarts & heart than young Joshua Burton. His first collection, Grace Engine, is destined to be this year’s star debut.”

Brian Teare adds, “Grace Engine documents the ravages of internalized antiblackness in restless lines whose ‘Language is like a month ending / with a fire.’ To aid in reclaiming himself from Black social and literal death, Joshua Burton assembles an archive of Black men whose minds were troubled by antiblackness and Black folks whose lives were ended by it. In confronting textual and visual evidence of white supremacy, in placing family history alongside it, his speakers confront the decision of whether to stay in a world inseparable from racist violence. Ultimately coming to understand ‘how much my indecision is decision,’ he enters into a tentative, complex relation with Black aliveness. Burton might write ‘in the language of breakdown,’ but his speakers ‘choose to fill my hands with stay here.’ The way to bless once meant to mark with blood, this book is both balm and wound.”

Dante Di Stefano is the author of three previous poetry collections: Love Is a Stone Endlessly in FlightIll Angels, and Lullaby with Incendiary Device, which was published in a three-in-one volume titled Generations, also featuring work by William Heyen and H. L. Hix.  

Along with María Isabel Álvarez, he coedited the anthology Misrepresented People: Poetic Responses to Trump’s America.  The poetry editor for the DIALOGIST, Di Stefano holds a PhD in English Literature from Binghamton University. He teaches high school English in Upstate New York and lives in Endwell, New York, with his wife, Christina; their daughter, Luciana; their son, Dante; and their dog, Sunny. Di Stefano’s book-length poem, Midwhistle, is a sprawling digressive love note to an unborn son, a map of the anxieties and ecstasies of poetic influence, and an exploration of selfhood and memory in an era of pandemic, social upheaval, and political uncertainty, written in stepped septasyllabic cinquains, a form he invented. 

H. L. Hix says, “Midwhistle proves Dante Di Stefano ‘a child / of cello, air, & mint spears.’  In this refulgent homage, Di Stefano honors ‘what loves / have been thrummed forth & nurtured / into shining’ by poet William Heyen’s august work and person. Surely any reader will leave this book, as I did, more alert and alive, more ‘in love / with the gray undersides of / mulberry leaves & the way / the grass ekes toward twilight.’”

Celeste Lipkes is a writer and psychiatrist residing in Asheville, North Carolina. Prior to medical school, she received an MFA in poetry from the University of Virginia. Radium Girl is her first book. 

Lisa Spaar says, “In the breathtaking ‘escape room’ of Celeste Lipkes’s Radium Girl, our ardent guide dons, by turns, the snow-flaked robe of patient, the white coat of physician, the lustrous cape of magician.  The word ‘magic’ is rooted in the PIE ‘magh’—‘to be able, to have power’—and in this radiant debut,  body and mystery exchange their secrets about what can and cannot be controlled—in illness, in love, and in the salvific art of poetry itself.”

Submissions for the next competition will be accepted between July 15 and September 15, 2022. 

About the University of Wisconsin Press

The University of Wisconsin Press is a not-for-profit publisher of books and journals. With nearly 1,500 titles and over 8,000 peer-reviewed articles in print, its mission embodies the Wisconsin Idea by publishing work of distinction that serves the people of Wisconsin and the world. 

For more information on the Wisconsin Poetry Prizes, please visit https://uwpress.wisc.edu/series/wi-poetry.html.

Announcing the Results of the Wisconsin Poetry Prize Competition

Out of over 950 entrants, Daniel Khalastchi has been selected as the winner of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry and Joshua Nguyen has been named the winner of the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. Each will receive $1,000, and their collections will be published this fall by the University of Wisconsin Press. Judith Vollmer has been awarded the Four Lakes Poetry Prize; her collection will be published next spring along with finalist collections by Emily Rose Cole and Laura Villareal.

Carmen Giménez Smith, editor of The Nation’s poetry section and codirector of CantoMundo, served as this year’s contest judge. Her collections include National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Milk and Filth (2010) and Be Recorder (2020), which was shortlisted for both the National Book Award and the PEN Open Book Award.

Photo by Barry Phipps. Picture of Daniel Khalastchi with long curly hair and beard, wearing dark-rimmed glasses and navy jacket, sitting in a Herman Miller chair and looking seriously at the camera.

Daniel Khalastchi is the author of Manoleria and Tradition. A former fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Daniel earned his MFA from the University of Iowa, where he currently directs the Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including The Rumpus, Poetry Northwest, and The Iowa Review. Giménez Smith praises the Brittingham-winning volume, “When the world is turned upside down, when vaccines are 5G and democracy is fascism and insurrection is freedom of speech, satire is often the most acute mirror to interpret an age. Vivid, bleak, and startling, American Parables is an allegorical masterpiece of mordant irony I plan to carry with me in this uncertain post-JAN6 era.”

Photo by Elisa J. Fuhrken of Joshua Nguyen with dark spiked up hair wearing two-tone black and clear framed glasses, wearing a gray shirt with a tan corduroy jacket, standing in a green woodsy area, looking into the camera and laughing.

Joshua Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American writer from Houston. He received his MFA from the University of Mississippi, where he is currently pursuing his PhD. His work has been published in The Texas Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Gulf Coast, among others. Come Clean, winner of the Felix Pollak prize, is his first full-length collection. Giménez Smith says, “I am so deeply moved by the subdued lyric force of this collection, if only subdued could capture the elegant control Nguyen exerts on his line. Sensuously constructed, in Come Clean he looks at the vast landscape of history through the desire for Marie Kondo’s order and a cure for imposter’s syndrome, in a book that’s as current as it is timeless.”

Judith Vollmer pictured with gray hair streaked elegantly with white, wearing a pair of cat-eyed black glasses and a white shirt, looking at the camera and smiling.

Judith Vollmer is the author of five previous collections, including The Apollonia Poems, which won the Four Lakes Prize four years ago. Her winning collection, The Sound Boat, features new and selected poems from her earlier volumes. Her writing has appeared in Poetry International, The Women’s Review of Books, The Georgia Review, and elsewhere. She is a professor emerita of English at the University of Pittsburgh–Greensburg and teaches in the MFA Program at Carlow University. According to Lawrence Joseph, “From the deeply moral and radical qualities of her first book to spectacular new poems, Vollmer has created a body of work singular in American poetry. With the sense, intellect, sound, tone, rhythm and music only the most real and truest poetry provides, The Sound Boat embodies, on every level, the regions of the human soul.”

Black and white photograph of Emily Rose Cole with long hair parted deeply wearing a black v-neck t-shirt and a delicate silver chain necklace, smiling and seated, looking to the right and into the camera.

Emily Rose Cole will also have her collection, Thunderhead, published as part of the series. She holds an MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and is a PhD candidate in poetry with an emphasis in disability studies at the University of Cincinnati. Her poems have appeared in American Life in Poetry, Poet Lore, and the Los Angeles Review, among others. Judy Jordan praises Thunderhead, saying, “Fiercely imaginative, these heart-wrenching, lyric narrative poems are haunted by the body as a depository for trauma, the body with cancer, the body with MS, the body cut open and sacrificed, teaching us that grief comes from love while transforming us with exquisite and beautiful language that is simply breathtaking.”

Photo of Laura Villareal with dark long hair parted to the side, wearing large tortoise shell rimmed glasses on the bridge of her nose, wearing a pale yellow shirt and light blue overalls. She is smiling at the camera and standing next to an orange fruit tree with green leaves.

Girl’s Guide to Leaving is the forthcoming collection by Laura Villareal, a Stadler Fellow and a National Book Critics Circle Emerging Critic. She earned her MFA from Rutgers University-Newark and her writing has appeared in AGNI, Black Warrior Review, Waxwing, and elsewhere. Giménez Smith says, “A folklore troubadour, Villareal ably unfolds a path through memory. Running wild and running home, this guide isn’t just for leaving but rather for making space in sites where one can ‘witness local miracles’ or to tell a heroine’s story without remorse. This is a rangy and ambitious book I can’t wait to see in print.”

Submissions for the next competition will be accepted between July 15 and September 15, 2021.

About the University of Wisconsin Press
The University of Wisconsin Press is a not-for-profit publisher of books and journals. With nearly 1,500 titles and over 8,000 peer-reviewed articles in print, its mission embodies the Wisconsin Idea by publishing work of distinction that serves the people of Wisconsin and the world.

For more information on the Wisconsin Poetry Prizes, please visit https://uwpress.wisc.edu/series/wi-poetry.html

Submissions open for the Brittingham & Felix Pollak Prizes, Judged by Carmen Giménez Smith

Carmen Giménez Smith standing in front of brick wall

The University of Wisconsin Press and the UW-Madison Program in Creative Writing are excited to announce that National Book Award Finalist Carmen Giménez Smith will judge this year’s Brittingham & Felix Pollak Prizes in Poetry. Any poet with an original, full-length, yet-to-be-published collection is eligible. Each manuscript will be considered for both $1,000 prizes. The winners and up to three finalists will have their books published as part of the University of Wisconsin Press’s Wisconsin Poetry Series. Submissions are open, and this year’s deadline is Tuesday, September 15.

Before visiting our Submittable page, please assemble a single pdf including a title page, a table of contents, your poems, and (optionally) an acknowledgments page listing any magazines or journals where the submitted poems may have first appeared. Your name and contact info should not appear anywhere in the document, or in the pdf file name. Manuscripts should be fifty to ninety pages in length on 8.5″ x 11″ pdf pages.

Simultaneous submissions are permitted, as long as the author agrees to withdraw the manuscript via the submissions manager if it is accepted elsewhere. If you have any questions, please first consult our FAQ. If you don’t find your answer, query Series Editors Sean Bishop and Ron Wallace at poetryseries@english.wisc.edu.

Recent titles in the Wisconsin Poetry Series

  • Cover image for Ganbatte
  • Cover image for If the House
  • Cover image of Gloss
  • Cover image of Dear Terror, Dear Splendor
  • Cover image for House of Sparrows

About This Year’s Judge
Carmen Giménez Smith is a former Guggenheim Fellow and the author of a memoir and six poetry collections, including Milk and Filth, a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry and Be Recorder, a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN Open Book Award. She was awarded an American Book Award for Bring Down the Little Birds and the Juniper Prize for Poetry for her collection Goodbye, Flicker. She is the publisher of Noemi Press. With Steph Burt, she is the poetry editor of The Nation.

UW Press Colophon

About the University of Wisconsin Press
The University of Wisconsin Press is a not-for-profit publisher of books and journals. With nearly 1,500 titles and over 8,000 peer-reviewed articles in print, its mission embodies the Wisconsin Idea by publishing work of distinction that serves the people of Wisconsin and the world.

For more information on the Wisconsin Poetry Prizes, please visit https://uwpress.wisc.edu/series/wi-poetry.html

PLOT LINES AND ADAPTATIONS: MARKETING BOOK CLUB (APRIL)

For National Poetry Month, we read Gloss by Rebecca Hazelton, part of the Wisconsin Poetry Series. Our book club consists of Alexis Paperman, publicity assistant and grad student studying library information science; Morgan Reardon, marketing assistant studying English literature and American Indian studies; and Julia Knecht, exhibits and data manager.

Hand holding a book with a pink cover, background is sandy beach and waves crashing behind.

Morgan’s favorite poem was “Recast, Again,” in the first section of the book, “Adaptations.” The poem beautifully captured the feeling of a child’s helplessness and how we can be observers in our own lives. She interpreted this poem to be describing the speaker’s childhood of witnessing a failing parental relationship and how the speaker wants to shield their own child from its effects. The imagery really brought the reader in, as though they too were lying on the ground watching the rest of the world float by: “I spent most of my childhood watching / the clouds / revolve while I stayed still.” The way the poem is structured, in short stanzas spread across the page, evokes the drifting of the clouds. This poem also explores how our memories can shift and trick us into believing in things that never happened, but the point is that it doesn’t matter. The speaker is looking toward the future, toward the person listening to these words.

Julia especially enjoyed the poems “Group Text” and “Why I Don’t Believe.” “Group Text” is a nuanced portrayal of modern friendship in a digital age, detailing a group text exchange between friends that bounces seamlessly between philosophical queries and poop emojis. It explores how a digital medium influences our social exchanges, such as how the speaker is “just three dots, shimmering.” She is a witness, always on the cusp of contribution. “Why I Don’t Believe” takes a painful look at the fading relationship between mother and young son, best summarized by the line “I am in an unequal relationship / with a toddler.” The poem is a startling portrayal of motherhood that strays from the straightforward narrative of limitless motherly love to consider socialized conflict that arises as children age.

Alexis wanted to say the whole collection was her favorite, however, when pressed, she decided on “Recast” and “Largest Hands.” The idea of “Recast” is not exactly new. It is the description which Rebecca Hazelton utilizes that illuminates roles of women: “the glaring lights of a delivery room after she’s moved the story along.” Indeed, there are times when that line has resonated with Alexis—that what she is doing is simply moving the story or plot of someone else’s life forward. She thinks that many of the moments presented in Hazelton’s collection will resonate with women. Strong imagery is one of the things that appeals to Alexis in poems. Hazelton’s poem “Largest Hands” is filled with such imagery as it describes the functioning of the dollhouse. Underneath the first layer of “Largest Hands” is again the questioning of what forces in life create a fragile ideal that leaves the soul wanting. It is hard to properly do justice to the poem in a simple excerpt; however, here is the line that drew Alexis in: “Where are the children? They were too expensive.” It is the fourth line in, and, without the context of the poem as a whole, may not mean much. Still, Alexis hopes you take the time to read both poems as well as the rest of Rebecca Hazelton’s collection.

Overall, we thought this book was an enjoyable and thought-provoking read. The way Hazelton plays with structure really adds to the depth of her poems. She weaves the concept of people portraying themselves in different ways to themselves and others throughout each piece. She comments on this using the metaphor of Hollywood, describing people as actors who perform on and off set. Along with discussing the sense of self, these poems also examine sexuality, relationships, and power. The cover image, lipstick smudged off of a pair of slightly agape lips, feeds into the idea that we cultivate an image for ourselves in the public eye, but that the way we cover and disguise our inner selves cannot be easily taken off. These poems fit well together, and though some of them stood out for us personally, it felt like they were a part of a cohesive collection. A reader with any level of experience reading poetry will be able to connect with Hazelton’s words.

Poetry and Crisis

As the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly reshaped political, economic, and personal realities worldwide, it’s easy to wonder how art will look back on this time. In honor of poetry month, we gathered articles from Contemporary Literature journal that discuss how poetry has grappled with past—and ongoing—national and international crises. From the AIDS epidemic, to 9/11, to environmental racism, to the global refugee crisis, these articles examine poetry that addresses the challenge of representing unimaginable circumstances and lost lives. The articles listed here are freely available until 5/31/20.

“Toward an Antiracist Ecopoetics: Waste and Wasting in the Poetry of Claudia Rankine” by Angela Hume, vol. 57.1 (2018)

I read CITIZEN as the latest installment of Rankine’s twenty-year meditation on the “wasting body”—a figure that, in Rankine’s poetry, accounts for how certain bodies are attenuated or made sick under capitalism and the state, while simultaneously being regarded as surplus by these same structures. While the book is not ostensibly a work of ecological poetry or environmental criticism, one of CITIZEN’s most pointed critiques—a critique Rankine makes in her earlier books, too—concerns the difficulty of relating to or identifying with one’s environment when one has been othered by the dominant white society and, consequently, forced to live with greater amounts of environmental risk.

Angela Hume

“Myung Mi Kim’s Vegetal Imaginary and the Poetics of Dispossession” by Melissa Parrish, vol. 59.1 (2018)

As war, regime change, wageless labor, and environmental degradation persist on a global scale, they magnify the vulnerability of the hundreds of millions of people who have long been displaced by capital accumulation…. In this essay, I contend that a poetics oriented toward social dispossession must wrestle with the perpetual violence waged on the representability of people themselves. In this way, lost histories―in their making and survival―are made visible in the act of bearing witness to dispossession across multiple generations and locales. Korean American poet Myung Mi Kim takes up this practice by turning to subjects without subjecthood, whose presence attends to granular scales of life hidden in plain sight.

Melissa Parrish

“‘Not Needed, Except as Meaning’: Belatedness in Post–9/11 American Poetry” by Ann Keniston, vol. 52.4 (2011)

[S]everal poems depict [the 9/11 attacks] in ways that draw attention to this problem of representing the “real.” But these poems do so indirectly; they consider the relation between the literal and the figurative through chronological instability, distance, indirection, and estrangement. These are features that trauma theory, following psychoanalysis, has associated with “belatedness,” a version of Freudian Nachträglichkeit, often translated as “deferred action” and described in terms of disruptions in the process of remembering traumatic events. Belatedness is often manifested for trauma victims in repetition, flashbacks, prolepsis, and other forms of temporal instability, and post–9/11 poems sometimes reveal these features…. Belatedness is here not a symptom, as in psychoanalysis, but rather a poetic strategy.

Ann Keniston

“Avant-Garde Interrupted: A New Narrative after AIDS” by Kaplan Page Harris, vol. 52.4 (2011)

[Kevin Killian’s 2001 book of poems] ARGENTO SERIES might be a good contender as a contemporary version of Ezra Pound’s Gaudier-Brzeska. Like Pound mourning the Vorticist sculptor lost in the trenches of World War I, Killian pays homage to the coterie figures who welcomed and influenced his early writing. Among them are Sam D’Allesandro (d. 1988), Dlugos (d. 1990), Leland Hickman (d. 1991), Steve Abbott (d. 1992), David Wojnarowicz (d. 1992), and Joe Brainard (d. 1994). ARGENTO SERIES gives the impression that these writers were an avant-garde, or something like one, and raises for us the cogent question of what happens when an avant-garde does not develop according to the usual pattern of oppositionality followed by institutional assimilation…. For Killian’s avant-garde, however, one whose genealogy combines the two traditions of gay liberation and modernist experimentation, the neutralizing process happened because of AIDS rather than enticements like literary prizes, endowed chairs, commercial publishing contracts, or M.F.A. reading circuits.

Kaplan Page Harris

National Poetry Month: Poetry for the Present

April is National Poetry Month—and we could all use a little extra poetry lately. Five University of Wisconsin Press poets share a poem from their recently published collections.


Ganbatte by Sarah Kortemeier

Cover image for Ganbatte

Kortemeier: Most of my work means something different to me now than it did when I wrote it; this poem definitely does. Hold on. We need each other, all our collective strength, all our love.





春 [haru] Japanese. Spring.

The sun hides under
the days. Lift them away, like wet planks
from a storm-wrecked house.
One removed, two—a breath,
a cry, a light
strikes a smudged, thin face—
and there is the spring, broken, starving,
still alive. Hoist her out.


If the house by Molly Spencer

Cover image for If the House

Spencer: In these days of sheltering, I’ve been thinking a lot about Linda Gregg’s poem, “We Manage Most When We Manage Small.” It strikes me today—years after writing it—that “Love at These Coordinates” is about managing small in a particular place and in a time of bewilderment, much as we all are now. It’s about focusing on what’s concrete and at hand, and it’s about keeping at it, hanging in there, trying again in hope—with no guarantee of results, and despite the impermanence of everything.


Love at These Coordinates

Put the window here. No

put it here. Where
the leaves are about to burn
and blow away. Keep sweeping

over the bare place
where
you thought you left

your body—breezeway
strike plate
tread of the stair.

Here is the sill
where at the end of

every winter I have tried
to force the paperwhites
to bloom.


Fruit by Bruce Snider

Snider: In this time of social distancing, it’s easy for us to feel disconnected from one another. I wrote “The Average Human” thinking about the imperceptible ways we’re always connected, even across place and time.





The Average Human

breath contains approximately 1044 molecules, which, once exhaled,
in time spread evenly through the atmosphere


                so today I took
in the last breaths of James
Baldwin Marie Curie Genghis
Kahn my great great grandmother’s
breath entering me beside the breath
of a Viking slave boy immolated
on the flames of his master’s
burning corpse. I inhaled
African queens Chinese
emperors the homeless
man with the bright blue
coat down the street. If oxygen
is the third most plentiful
element in the universe, moving
through us like Virgil through
the underworld, how long
have I tasted the girl
drowned among cattails near
the murky shore? In ancient Egypt
a priestess packed a corpse with
salt but not before a breath
escaped that two thousand years
later entered me or at least
atoms of it, a molecule. Plato
theorized atoms in 400 BC
and this morning outside
Athens I took in his last breath,
my lungs damp crypts
where Charon’s oars dipped
into the black waters of the River
Styx, not knowing who would
pay the ferryman and
with what coin on what tongue.


No Day at the Beach by John Brehm

Brehm: I chose this poem because it speaks to the sense of shared vulnerability, as individuals and as a species, that we’re all feeling right now.





Field of Vision

Our survival cost us our happiness,
always scanning for lions
stalking us on the open

savannahs—is that
a panther or just wind
in the tall grass moving?

The carefree became
a big cat’s satisfied sleep.
The rest of us are here,

five million years of fear
hard-wiring our brains
to be on guard, to look

for trouble, for the one
thing wrong with this picture,
whatever the picture might be.

Now we do it out of habit,
even when there’s no reason,
when we’re perfectly safe,

walking out each morning,
naked, under the baobab trees,
into the lion’s field of vision.


Queen in Blue by Ambalila Hemsell

Hemsell: Almost every poem in my collection is in some way about the deeply intertwined nature of death and birth, violence and creation. This poem imagines the return to a vital and animalistic existence amidst the breakdown of capitalistic society. The poem posits that there is joy to be found somewhere in the alchemy of gratitude, love, and survival.



joy

joy spreads like blood on the sheets, love, and we are black
blooded thieves, turnip takers in our lucky rabbit skins.

whiskey makes the good heart powerful and we thump thump
our drums until sunup. chant ourselves hoarse through the smoking

wet cedar. the system of currency and want has lost its sway. I have now
only the natural sorts of hunger. with that in mind, let us feast.

with that in mind, let us cleave the river from the bank with the cosmic axe.
feed the deer from our pockets, the oatmeal we ourselves were raised on

and will raise our children on again. with that in mind, ravage me.
have you seen the quiet way in fog the dawn barely breaks? it is treason

for the day to enter with so little ceremony. I want fireworks. I want
the slaughter of lambs for our holy days, but each day is holier than the last.

as we plummet from our high banyan seat the short switch beats the rug,
the golden beets are slow to come and you, love, accept my hurricane

to your stout trunk, accept the natural uprooting. the bevel meeting of me to you,
god, speak on the smoothing of stone by water, and the fitting of stone to stone.

we are meek walkers on the once lush globe. now, among the perishing, we count
our blessings and shed our shoes.


Announcing the Results of the Wisconsin Poetry Prize Competition

Out of nearly 900 entrants, Diane Kerr and Carlos Andrés Gómez have been selected as recipients of the Brittingham and the Felix Pollak Prizes in Poetry by Natasha Tretheway, nineteenth U.S. Poet Laureate. Three runners-up have also been identified by Trethewey and selected by series editors Ron Wallace and Sean Bishop to have their collections published by the University of Wisconsin Press next spring: Carlina Duan, Anna Leigh Knowles, and Christopher Nelson.

Text Box: -more-
Diane Kerr (photo: Ruth Hendricks)

Diane Kerr mentors poets through the Madwomen in the Attic Creative Writing Program at Carlow University and is the author of the collection, Butterfly. Her work has appeared in the Alaska Quarterly Review, Mississippi Review, and Pearl, among others. She holds an MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Kerr’s forthcoming Perigee follows a speaker’s emotional reckoning with a traumatic secret she felt pressured to keep during her girlhood. In varied lyric narratives, these poems reinforce that shock and suffering have no statute of limitations.

Carlos Andrés Gómez (photo: Friends & Lovers Photography)

Carlos Andrés Gómez is the author of the memoir Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood. His work has been featured in numerous publications, including New England Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and BuzzFeed Reader. A graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, Gómez is originally from New York City. Fractures, Gómez’s debut collection, is composed of poignant poems produced by a speaker at the breaking point, casting an uncompromised eye toward both brutality and tenderness. This collection navigates the realm of identity, interrogating race, gender, sexuality, fatherhood, and violence.

Carlina Duan

Carlina Duan teaches at the University of Michigan and authored the collection I Wore My Blackest Hair. She earned her MFA from Vanderbilt University. Jasmine An praises her forthcoming Alien Miss, “Duan wields her craft with keen intellect and infinite generosity in this ambitious collection that tenderly ushers into existence a glorious host of voices. Hailing the collective grit that undergirds racialized womanhood in America, her poetry becomes a radical invitation to celebrate clear-eyed and unflinching joy.”

Anna Leigh Knowles (photo: Michelle Elliott)

Conditions of the Wounded is Anna Leigh Knowles’s debut collection. Originally from Colorado, she teaches in Quito, Ecuador, and holds an MFA from Southern Illinois University–Carbondale. Judy Jordan says, “A poetry of narrative tension, lyrical beauty, and incredible, breath-stealing, imagination. These poems show place as a reliquary of trauma but they also show how joy and love can rise in even the most broken places. Grief struck and haunted, these are points of hope and light in a way only poems can be.”

Christopher Nelson

Christopher Nelson, founder and editor of Under a Warm Green Linden and Green Linden Press, will also have his collection, Blood Aria, published as part of the series. According to Boyer Rickel, “In meditations ranging from a child’s incomprehension of a father’s violence to the suffering of those cast out for their sexual desires to the horror of mass shootings, the poems of Blood Aria pulse with an urgency that is both anguished and exalted. And transformative. To experience poems as passionate, as charged with wisdom as these is to enter into a kind of spiritual quest.”

Submissions for the next competition will be accepted between July 15 and September 15, 2020.

UW Press Colophon

About the University of Wisconsin Press
The University of Wisconsin Press is a not-for-profit publisher of books and journals. With nearly 1,500 titles and over 8,000 peer-reviewed articles in print, its mission embodies the Wisconsin Idea by publishing work of distinction that serves the people of Wisconsin and the world.


For more information on the Wisconsin Poetry Prizes, please visit https://uwpress.wisc.edu/series/wi-poetry.html

Articles We Love: A Valentine’s Reading List

For all our fellow nerdy types out there, this Valentine’s Day, we’re highlighting scholarship from our journals on the literature and economics of love. The selection includes a study on falling divorce rates, an analysis of the courtly love lyrics of medieval Spain and Germany, an article on queer erotics and political action in poetry, and more. All articles listed here are freely available until the end of the month.

Motifs of Love in the Courtly Love Lyric of Moslem Spain and Hohenstaufen Germany by Charles M. Barrack, Monatshefte 105.2 (2013)

“My intention is to demonstrate the striking—even contradictory—attitude of the supplicant minstrel in both traditions to the object of his affection, viz., a noble but distant lady. Let us term this the ‘Platonic-Erotic Dilemma’: Is the beloved a distant, sublime, edifying force or a mere mortal capable of physical love?”

Why Have Divorce Rates Fallen? The Role of Women’s Age at Marriage by Dana Rotz, Journal of Human Resources 51.4 (2016)

“American divorce rates rose from the 1950s to the 1970s peaked around 1980, and have fallen ever since. The mean age at marriage also substantially increased after 1970. I explore the extent to which the rise in age at marriage can explain the decrease in divorce rates for cohorts marrying after 1980.”

Life, War, and Love: The Queer Anarchism of Robert Duncan’s Poetic Action during the Vietnam War by Eric Keenaghan, Contemporary Literature vol. 49.4 (2008)

“The queerness I associate with Duncan’s poetic anarchism, then, is related to the emphasis he places on how eroticism facilitates subjects’ resistance to the liberalist attitudes promoted by the biopolitical state. Whereas many gay and lesbian thinkers and activists promoted sex and eroticism as a means of resisting the state, Duncan was preoccupied with how language is an erotic vehicle mediating embodied experience and promoting transformative passions.”

Lucky in Life, Unlucky in Love? The Effect of Random Income Shocks on Marriage and Divorce by Scott Hankins and Mark Hoekstra, Journal of Human Resources 46.2 (2011)

“There are several reasons why positive income shocks could affect marital decisions. For married couples, more generous cash transfers may have a stabilization effect and relax financial constraints and arguments that lead to divorce. . . . On the other hand, increased resources may enable unhappy couples to incur the costs associated with divorce.”

Cosmopolitan Love: The One and the World in Hari Kunzru’s Transmission by Ashley T. Shelden, Contemporary Literature 53.2 (2012)

“Most critics will agree that the adjective cosmopolitan describes not just a way of organizing the world or a type of subject position but also a stance that pertains, in particular, to the ethical relation to the other. Few critics, however, in their explorations of the ethics of cosmopolitanism, inquire into what one might call the fundamental analytical category of ethics: love.”

Kathleen Fraser and the Transmutation of Love by Jeanne Heuving, Contemporary Literature 51.3 (2010)

“Fraser changes from writing through a poetic speaker as lover addressing her beloved to a transpersonal love writing, or a libidinized ‘field poetics’ (Translating 176). In the course of her career, Fraser comes to write an erotically charged prosody through a “projective” poetics that rejects individuated poetic speakers and cathects directly with her poems’ others and languages—engaging material aspects of language and of the page itself.”