Out of more than 850 entrants, Tacey M. Atsitty has been selected as the winner of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry and Michael Dhyne 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, Nick Lantz has been named winner of the Four Lakes Poetry Prize, and his collection will be published next spring. The University of Wisconsin Press will also publish finalist collections by Daniel Khalastchi, Lisa Fay Coutley, and Saúl Hernández next spring.
Eduardo C. Corral served as this year’s contest judge. 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 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.
Tacey M. Atsitty, Diné (Navajo), is Tsénahabiłnii (Sleep Rock People) and born for Ta’neeszahnii (Tangle People). The recipient of numerous prizes and fellowships, Atsitty is an inaugural Indigenous Nations Poets fellow and holds degrees from Brigham Young University and the Institute of American Indian Arts as well as an MFA from Cornell University. The author of Rain Scald (University of New Mexico Press), Atsitty has also published work in POETRY, EPOCH, Kenyon Review Online, Poem-A-Day: Academy of American Poets, The Hopkins Review, Shenandoan, High Country News, Hairstreak Butterfly Review, Literature and Belief, Leavings, and other publications. She is the director of the Navajo Film Festival, a member of the Advisory Board for BYU’s Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, and a board member for Lightscatter Press. Atsitty is a PhD student in creative writing at Florida State University in Tallahassee, where she lives with her husband.
About the Brittingham-winning volume, James Kimbrell, author of Smote, says, “As formally seductive as it is subversive, Tacey Atsitty’s (AT) Wrist is a poetry of deep longing and praise, of loss and the courage of resilience. Anchored in an intimate vision of connectedness, her syntax works its way beyond thought’s limit, setting its hook in the terrain of memory and dream. This is a book I will return to for what no other poet I know delivers with such daring and vulnerability, a poetry wherein time, body, and the natural world are presented as a singularity otherwise known as love.”
Michael Dhyne, winner of the Felix Pollak Prize, was born and raised in California. He received an MFA from the University of Virginia, where he was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize. His poetry has appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, The Iowa Review, The Spectacle, and elsewhere. His work has been supported by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Community of Writers, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. He lives in Oakland and is pursuing a master’s degree in social welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. Afterlife is his first book.
About the Felix Pollak–winning volume, Debra Nystrom says, “Michael Dhyne’s Afterlife is heartbreaking and brilliant in its delicacy and its depths, and in the many ways it reaches from interior drama to range far out into the wider world. These poems carry the powerful and particular effects of a singular experience of early loss, even while they look intently at the changes that follow, and the possibilities they contain for understanding how to continue forward. The spell cast by this book ties our adult ways of moving through our lives to the primitive child-need for magic and reassurance: the longing we all know for order amid the terrors of random events, and the search, in the welter of our days, for the place or person or state of mind in which self can feel held.”
Nick Lantz is the author of four previous books of poetry, including You, Beast (winner of the Brittingham Prize) and The Lightning That Strikes the Neighbors’ House (winner of the Felix Pollak Prize). His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Copper Nickel, the Gettysburg Review, the Southern Review, and other journals, as well as in the Best American Poetry anthology. His poetry has received several awards, including the Larry Levis Reading Prize, the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writer Award, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches in the MFA program at Sam Houston State University and lives in Huntsville, Texas, with his wife and cats.
Lantz’s earlier work has been reviewed in venues like NPR and Booklist. About a previous volume, Tess Taylor said on NPR’s All Things Considered, “Lantz has a knack for turning the battered material of daily life into something off-kilter, newly felt.” About another volume, Judith Kitchen wrote in the Georgia Review, “Lantz kindles his own imagination, luxuriates in speculative reverie, and indulges in rhetorical maneuvers that are openly innovative. . . . Again and again Lantz’s poems make moves that surprise, and illuminate.”
Daniel Khalastchi is an Iraqi Jewish American. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a former fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, he is the author of three previous books of poetry—Manoleria (Tupelo Press), Tradition (McSweeney’s), and American Parables (University of Wisconsin Press, winner of the Brittingham Prize). His work has appeared in numerous publications, including American Poetry Review, The Believer Logger, Colorado Review, Granta, The Iowa Review, the Jewish Book Council’s Paper Brigade, and Best American Experimental Writing. A recent visiting assistant professor at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he currently lives in Iowa City, where he directs the University of Iowa’s Magid Center for Writing. He is the cofounder and managing editor of Rescue Press. The Story of Your Obstinate Survival is his fourth book.
“Like a new angel of history, The Story of Your Obstinate Survival arrives with its wings heavy with live fish and doorknobs, shovels and bone cake, faith and desire. Khalastchi has turned the poem into a long, beautiful wail, soft and brilliant enough for even Babel and Kafka and Singer to hear. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out Khalastchi feeds each poem by hand, and brushes nightly their wings. With as much abandon as with hope, these poems sway on the edge of a miracle,” says Sabrina Orah Mark.
Lisa Fay Coutley is the author of tether (Black Lawrence Press); Errata (Southern Illinois University Press), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition; In the Carnival of Breathing (Black Lawrence Press), winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition; and Small Girl: Micromemoirs (Harbor Editions); and the editor of the grief anthology In the Tempered Dark: Contemporary Poets Transcending Elegy (Black Lawrence Press). She is the recipient of an NEA Literature Fellowship; an Academy of American Poets Larry Levis Memorial Poetry Prize, chosen by Dana Levin; and a Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, selected by Natalie Diaz. Recent prose and poetry appears in Barrelhouse, Brevity, Copper Nickel, Gulf Coast, and North American Review. She is an associate professor of poetry and creative nonfiction in the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the chapbook series editor at Black Lawrence Press.
Trey Moody says, “Part elegy to the Anthropocene, part case study of internet-era loneliness, the metaphorical relationships woven throughout HOST’s poignant, timely, and necessary poems are many: mother host to son, woman host to patriarchy, flower host to human pleasure, earth host to people’s waste. Among these layered threats to the body and the planet, there’s a plea for repair, for reclamation, as one speaker asks, ‘did you hear me / agree to be an island?’ Here we have a poet at the height of her craft, skillfully rendering the essential dispatches we all need to hear.”
Saúl Hernández is a queer writer from San Antonio, Texas, who was raised by undocumented parents. He has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso. He’s the winner of a Pleiades Prufer Poetry Prize, judged by Joy Priest; and a Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize, chosen by Victoria Chang. His poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Hernández’s work is forthcoming or featured in Pleiades, Frontier Poetry, Poet Lore, Foglifter Journal, Oyster River Pages, Cherry Tree, and elsewhere.
“In How to Kill a Goat & Other Monsters, Saúl Hernández stitches together torn scraps of myth and faith, displacement and violence, love and the queer body into a rich quilt, a gorgeous poetic coming-of-age story that is both universal and his alone. This is a moving and special book, one to read, to gift to friends, to reread,” says Jesse Lee Kercheval, coeditor of the Wisconsin Poetry Series and author of I Want To Tell You.
Submissions for the next competition will be accepted between July 15 and September 15, 2023.
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For more information on the Wisconsin Poetry Prizes, please visit https://uwpress.wisc.edu/series/wi-poetry.html.