The University of Wisconsin Press is thrilled to announce the winners of our annual poetry prizes! The three winning collections, along with two other honorable mention collections, will be published over the next year as part of the Wisconsin Poetry Series, edited by Ron Wallace and Sean Bishop.
Molly Spencer is the recipient of the Brittingham Prize for the collection If the house. Spencer is a poetry editor at The Rumpus and teaches at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. She holds an MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop. Judge Carl Phillips says, “The eponymous house of If the house is at once literal and figurative. There’s the impulse toward an idea of domesticity that begins here with finding a house within which to shape a life, or try to. . . . Memory, too, is a house here—and in these poems, to make of memory a home becomes an act just as brave and honest—and all the lovelier for both—as the poems themselves.”
Sarah Kortemeier has been awarded the Felix Pollak Prize for the collection Ganbatte. Kortemeier is the library director at the University of Arizona Poetry Center and holds an MFA in Poetry and MA in Library and Information Science from the University of Arizona. According to Phillips, “The poems of Ganbatte use language to give us what photography can’t, always, a sense of the interior, of the sensibility of place and of what has happened there—story and history, Hansel and Gretel and the Holocaust and Hiroshima.”
Bruce Snider is the winner of the Four Lakes Prize for his forthcoming collection, Fruit. One of his previous collections, The Year We Studied Women, was the winner of the 2003 Felix Pollak Prize. Snider is an associate professor at the University of San Francisco and earned his MFA in poetry and playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin. His poetry and nonfiction have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, VQR, Iowa Review, Ploughshares, Gettysburg Review, Pleiades, Southern Review and Best American Poetry 2012.
John Brehm’s collection No Day at the Beach will be published as part of the Wisconsin Poetry Series. Brehm teaches at the Oregon Literary Arts and Mountain Writers Series in Portland, Oregon and the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, Colorado. He is the author of Sea of Faith, which won the 2004 Brittingham Prize, and Help is on the Way, which won the 2012 Four Lakes Prize. Andrea Hollander says of John Brehm’s forthcoming collection, “Evident throughout these irresistible, often self-deprecating poems (‘It’s no day at the beach / being me’) are Brehm’s persuasive wonderings, his engaging explorations, his vital need to know. Open the book anywhere and you won’t want to put it down.”
Ambalila Hemsell’s poetry collection, Queen in Blue, will also be published in the coming year. Hemsell is a writer, educator, and musician who holds an MFA from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. Laura Kasischke praises Hemsell’s Queen in Blue, saying, “She has created a poetry that pulls back the curtain. . . . not knowing this curtain blocked a view of something that, once glimpsed, will change us. She gives us that glimpse. She changes us. A reader could ask no more of any collection of poems.”
Submissions for the 2020 awards cycle will be open from July 15 to September 15 of this year. The judge for the upcoming awards will be Natasha Tretheway, whose collection Native Guard won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. She was named the nineteenth Poet Laureate of the United States in 2012, a position she held through 2014.
Winners of the 2018 poetry prizes—D. M. Aderibigbe, Michelle Brittan Rosado, and Betsy Sholl—will read their work at the upcoming AWP Conference and Bookfair on Thursday, March 28 at 4PM at Produce Row Café, 204 SE Oak St., Portland, Oregon.
About the University of Wisconsin Press
The University of Wisconsin Press, one of the research and service centers housed within the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, is a not-for-profit publisher of books and journals. With nearly 1,500 titles 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