Author Archives: Kaitlin Svabek

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

UW Press book receives NEH Open Book Award

Cover image shows a portrait of Sofia wearing a brown fur hat, green jacket, yellow collared shirt, and maroon tiee.

We are pleased to share that Citizen Countess: Sofia Panina and the Fate of Revolutionary Russia by Adele Lindenmeyr is the recipient of a National Endowment of the Humanities Open Book Award, a special initiative for scholarly presses to make recent monographs freely available online.

“I am very grateful to both the University of Wisconsin Press and the NEH. This grant ensures that my story of one of the 20th century’s most remarkable women will reach a wider readership,” says Lindenmeyr.

Books on a wide range of topics, written with previous support from one of many NEH fellowship programs, will be made available through this award. Per the organization, “During a time when so many of us are doing research remotely, the value of digital editions like these that can be freely accessed from anywhere in the world is more apparent than ever. All awardees will receive $5,500 per book to support digitization, marketing, and a stipend for the author.”

Our warmest congratulations to Adele, and all involved!

University Press Week 2020 Friday Blog Tour: #RaiseUP Active Voices

Happy University Press Week 2020! Continue the blog tour by visiting these great offerings that illuminate how university presses raise up active voices:

University Press Week 2020 Thursday Blog Tour: #RaiseUP Scientific Voices

Happy University Press Week 2020! Continue the blog tour by visiting these great offerings that illuminate how university presses raise up scientific voices:

University Press Week 2020 Wednesday Blog Tour: #RaiseUP Local Voices

Happy University Press Week 2020! Continue the blog tour by visiting these great offerings that illuminate how university presses raise up local voices:

University Press Week 2020 Tuesday Blog Tour: #RaiseUP Creative Voices

Happy University Press Week 2020! This year’s theme, Raise UP, highlights the role that the university press community plays in elevating authors, subjects, and whole disciplines, bringing new perspectives, ideas, and voices to readers around the globe. Today on the blog tour, visit these great offerings that illuminate how university presses highlight creative voices:

#RaiseUP New Voices

Advisory committees and editorial boards play a key role in university press publishing. At the University of Wisconsin Press, the Press Committee is the guarantor of the press’s imprint, providing final oversight of the peer review process. Their discussions, comments, and questions produce valuable insights, critiques, and guidance to the press editors and director for current and future projects.

For University Press Week 2020, we are highlighting the voices of eight Press Committee members who bring unique new perspectives and ideas to the publishing process.

How do your academic discipline and experiences aid you as a member of the committee?

Anthony Cerulli: I specialize in the study of religion and medical humanities, with an area studies focus on South Asia. This background has helped me assess a wide range of manuscripts that come before the committee that contribute to these areas. I am also hopeful that I offer a helpful outsider’s view on work outside of my areas of expertise, such as the many works of fiction and manuscripts in European Studies.

Kathryn Ciancia: As academics, we know that writing, revising, and editing are processes that both take time and benefit from multiple perspectives. Having a team of people from different disciplines involved in a book can help to make it appealing to as wide a readership as possible.

Nan Enstad: My training and my career have been very interdisciplinary, crossing humanities and social sciences, which not only helps me understand the basis of more books being considered for publication for the press but also helps me understand disciplinary differences and boundaries. In graduate school, I gained training in history, African American studies, feminist studies, and cultural studies, focusing my work on people’s uses of cultural texts including film, popular fiction, and popular fashion. More recently, I’ve moved into Community and Environmental Sociology and study global capitalism, agriculture, labor, and food systems.

Kathryn McGarr: I enjoy being able to draw on my historical training and even simply my experiences as a critical reader to ask questions of the books we review and understand their contributions to their own conversations.

Sara McKinnon: I examine political rhetoric and communication about issues of violence, displacement, gender/sexuality, and human rights with a focus on the Americas. The University of Wisconsin Press has strong holdings in studies of Latin America and the Caribbean, human rights, and LGBT Studies. I apply my expertise in these subjects to assess the strength of the critical projects developed in the manuscripts we consider.

Nandini Pandey: We classics scholars call ourselves philologists—lovers of words. I love applying my love of words, my training in close reading, and my interest in meaning-making within a broader cultural context to my work on the UW Press Committee.

David Pavelich: My career has been built in academic libraries around the country, so I’ve been working with all kinds of books, journals, and other publications for years. Librarians are often generalists, so we take a broad view, and we’re naturally curious about lots of disciplines. As someone who is somewhat separated from academic debates, rivalries, and specializations, I think I bring an objectivity to the committee.

Porter Shreve: I’m a novelist, short story writer and essayist, and I direct the Creative Writing Program at UW, so I tend to lend my voice most often when the committee discusses creative projects. I’ve been very impressed with the range and quality of short story collections, novels and memoirs that have come before the committee. I’m also a screener for the Brittingham and Pollack Prizes in Poetry, which is one of the most respected university press book prizes in the country.

What do you find most fascinating about your role on the press committee?

Anthony Cerulli: I have written one book and recently went through peer review and contract negotiations for another one. Work on the Faculty Committee has opened my eyes to what happens on the press’s end of the book publication process, which, until my service on this committee, had been a little unclear to me. It’s wonderful to learn firsthand just how hard the editors and press’s staff work with authors, each other, and the faculty committee at UW Press, and I’m hopeful operations at most other university presses function this way, too.

Kathryn Ciancia: I’ve just been through the process of publishing my first book, so it’s been really enlightening to see things from the other perspective—that of a press. Plus, it’s just great fun to talk about books, including those in fields far outside of my own academic training, with a group of people who enjoy reading as much as I do!

Nan Enstad: On the press committee, I enjoy hearing about the editorial process and hearing others on the board respond to the topics at hand. I also enjoy reading the books UW Press is publishing!

Kathryn McGarr: Being on the Press Committee gives me a fantastic chance to read literature outside my discipline and enjoy works I normally would not have come across, from collections of short stories to histories of the Irish diaspora.

Sara McKinnon: It is so interesting to get a backstage view of the process of book making. I didn’t understand how much editors serve as advocates for the writers they work with, and just how many eyes are on a book before it goes into production. This experience on the board will undoubtedly shape how I develop my own future book projects and how I mentor colleagues and students who endeavor to publish their work.

Nandini Pandey: This is one of my most fulfilling and fascinating service commitments because it gives me an inside scoop into breaking ideas and trends in other fields, plus insight into things that affect every academic: the production of knowledge, the review and editing process, and the publishing industry. Through the press’s kaleidoscopic range of authors and projects, I get to learn about ideas, cultures, and disciplines that I’d otherwise rarely encounter in my ordinary scholarly life. So my work here redeems the joy in reading and love of imaginative travel that brought me into classics and academia in the first place.

David Pavelich: As a librarian, I’ve worked for years to acquire and provide access to university press books and journals, but I never had the opportunity to learn about university presses themselves. This has been a unique learning experience for me, a really exceptional look into the world of publishing. I’ve gained new insights into questions like, How does the move to e-books impact university presses? Or, How will a greater reliance on shared library collections impact university presses? Of course, it’s also been fascinating to see the results of new research before anyone else. The diversity of disciplines and subjects that the press publishes shows scholars exploring international archives, oral histories, and quantitative data. Librarians like me love to learn about scholars’ research methods and adventures.

Porter Shreve: As someone who submits manuscripts to presses and journals all the time and advises students about when and where to send out their own work, it’s been very helpful to understand the process from the publishing side. Creative Writing programs have such a focus on craft and technique that it’s useful for me to see some of the inner workings of marketing and editorial so my students have a better sense of what happens between the submission and publication of a book.

New First Book Prize Honors Work of George L. Mosse

The University of Wisconsin Press and the George L. Mosse Program in History are pleased to announce the George L. Mosse First Book Prize. The prize honors Mosse’s commitment to both scholarship and mentoring new generations of historians. Winning books will be published as part of the George L. Mosse Series in the History of European Culture, Sexuality, and Ideas, and the winning author will receive a $5,000 prize. An honorable mention winner may also be selected to receive a $1,000 prize and publication.

Skye Doney, director of the George L. Mosse Program and Mosse series editor, says, “Mosse’s pioneering work set new trends in the field of European history. Our goal with the Mosse First Book Prize is to identify and support new voices in these scholarly discussions.”

The prize aims to support and engage early-career scholars writing on topics related to the history of modern European culture, sexuality, or ideas. It will be open to original, previously unpublished monographs of historical scholarship. Only English-language works (whether written in English or translated) will be considered. Proposals for the inaugural prize will be accepted between January 15 and May 15, 2021. All submissions will be reviewed by the press and series advisers, and a short list of no more than three finalists will be chosen in summer 2021. The finalists’ manuscripts will be read by a jury of expert readers, who will select the winning project.

Nathan MacBrien, UW Press editor in chief, says, “In addition to being one of the great cultural historians of the latter twentieth century, George L. Mosse was an inspiring mentor of young scholars. The Mosse prize continues that tradition of support, while further establishing UW Press as an important outlet for work in modern European cultural history.”

Books published under the auspices of the Mosse series join a prestigious list of more than two dozen titles published by notable scholars. The first three were published in 2003—Collected Memories by Christopher R. Browning, Mosse’s own Nazi Culture, and the edited volume What History Tells. Forthcoming projects include titles on the struggle to act in the face of the Holocaust, masculinity in Italian fascist culture, and early twentieth-century pacifism. Additionally, UW Press and the Mosse Program have embarked upon the reissuing of Mosse’s Collected Works, with two titles published to date.

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.

About the George L. Mosse Series in the History of European Culture, Sexuality, and Ideas
The Mosse series promotes the vibrant international collaboration and community that historian George L. Mosse created during his lifetime by publishing major innovative works by outstanding scholars in European cultural and intellectual history.

About George L. Mosse
A legendary scholar, teacher, and mentor, Mosse (1918–1999) joined the Department of History at UW–Madison in 1955. He was an early leader in the study of modern European culture, fascism, and the history of sexuality and masculinity. In 1965 Mosse was honored for his exceptional teaching by being named UW’s first John C. Bascom Professor. He remained famous among students and colleagues for his popular and engaging lectures, which were often standing-room only. A Jewish refugee from prewar Germany, Mosse was appointed a visiting professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1969 and spent the final decades of his career traveling frequently between Madison and Jerusalem.

Butternuts and Maple Sugar Candy

In the Midwest, unmistakably crisp mornings and golden leaves herald the arrival of a new season. Today we share a charming excerpt about the autumnal butternut harvest from Farm Girl by Beuna Coburn Carlson.

Butternut trees grew in several areas in the woodlot and pasture on our farm. We watched the nuts develop during summer and waited for them to ripen in fall. While they were still green, they were soft enough to cut with a knife; when ripe, a hammer or a special nutcracker was necessary to crack the hard shell and extract the meat. Dad used his jackknife to slice through a green nut to show us the complex structure of the nut, and allowed us to taste the bitter, unripe nutmeat. How different they would be after the nuts had ripened and dried, their rich, creamy, buttery taste a perfect flavor in maple sugar candy!

Our farm in west central Wisconsin was at the western and northern limits of the range of the butternut tree. Sometimes called white walnut, it produces nuts that are extremely hard shelled, much like black walnuts. Butternut trees grow to sixty feet in height, rarely higher. The wood was prized for carving and, before metal items were readily available, for maple sap spiles. Dad was skillful also in making wonderful wooden whistles for the kids in spring before the new growth in the tree hardened.

We knew which of the trees produced the most and the best nuts. One special tree on a sunny knoll in the pasture bore a great crop. Whereas butternuts generally are oval in shape, the nuts from this tree were nearly round, more like walnuts. It was easy to fill a bucket with these gems! Another tree, growing in the woodlot near the edge of the pasture, produced long, oval nuts, huge and choice. It was important to gather them as quickly as possible before the butternut poachers found them. The tree was near the road, with only a two-strand barbed-wire fence between the woodlot and road. People from as far away as St. Paul and Minneapolis combed the countryside and took butternuts wherever they found them.

Black and white photo of a farm with trees in the background showing four children: Neva sitting on the left with short curled hair and a gingham dress, nest to her Beuna sits with short parted hair and a checkered dress with a bow on the neckline, Burr is seated wearing a shirt and trousers, and Add is seated on the right wearing overalls.
Coburn kids. L to R: Neva, Beuna, Burr, Add.

Gathering the nuts on a sunny day in fall after the butternut shells had hardened and the outer husks had dried involved the whole family. Little kids could pick up nuts from the ground where they had fallen while Mother and Dad harvested the ones still on the tree. They carried buckets filled with nuts to the granary and spread them on the floor to finish drying.

On cold, dark winter days when no outdoor work was possible, Dad often got a pail of butternuts, now dried and ready to use, from the granary. He took them to a warm spot in the cellar near the furnace, sat down with a hammer in hand, placed a butternut upright on a special piece of wood, and cracked it. If he hit it just right, it would split into two pieces and the nutmeat would come out easily. That was a rarity. Most often it required several blows of the hammer to shatter the shell and expose the meat. When Dad had cracked a goodly amount, he brought them upstairs to the kitchen, where anyone willing to do so attacked them with a nutpick.

Very rarely, a perfectly cracked nut would yield a perfect nutmeat—two halves shaped like fat pantaloons. Finding a “pair of pants” among the butternuts was comparable to finding a four-leaf clover in the grass and gave the finder special bragging rights.

Helping pick out the pieces of meat from the shells with a nutpick entitled one to snack on them too, but wise children waited until Mother made a batch of maple sugar candy. She made it by boiling a saucepan of maple syrup, beating in cream, adding a handful of butternut meats, and pouring the thick, smooth mass into a buttered pan. When Mother decided it was cool enough, she cut it into squares and we tasted the wonderful candy. I believe we could taste in every bite the sap from the trees gathered on a frosty spring morning, the steaming syrup from the big, black kettle, the sunny afternoon of gathering the nuts, and the triumph of getting pieces of nuts from the rough shells. We knew where it came from and what effort it took to produce it. It was our candy and we loved it.

Beuna Coburn Carlson is a writer based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

From Farm Girl by Beuna Carlson Coburn. © 2020 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved.

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

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