Announcing Our Winner and Finalists for the

2020 Press 53 Award for Poetry

Press 53 Poetry Series Editor Tom Lombardo has selected the winner and finalists for the 2020 Press 53 Award for Poetry. 

Our winner is
Mohja Kahf of Fayetteville, Arkansas, for her collection, Naked Toast.

 
photo by Gail Daneker

photo by Gail Daneker

 

Tom Lombardo says of Mohja's poetry manuscript: "Through seven readings of the finalists, I kept coming back to this one, kept touching and hearing and tasting and smelling the poems, discovering their humor, irony, satire, eros, ecstatic passion, lots of yummy food, along with an unusual view of the holy days of Ramadan. I’m thrilled and honored to have selected Naked Toast by Mohja Kahf."

Mohja Kahf is a professor of comparative literature at the University of Arkansas and a former slam poet and a past recipient of the Arkansas Arts Council Individual Artist Award. Kahf's first two poetry collections are E-mails from Scheherazad and Hagar Poems. The Arts Council of Bloomington, Indiana, chose her novel, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf, as book of the year (2008). A founding member of RAWI, the Radius of Arab American Writers, Kahf is the winner of a Pushcart Prize for her essay, “The Caul of Inshallah,” published in River Teeth.

Mohjas Kahf's manuscript was selected from more than 350 entries we received from writers in 44 states. Naked Toast will be published by Press 53 as a Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection on April 1, 2020, at which time Mohja will receive her $1,000 advance and 50 copies of her book.

Tom Lombardo also named the following manuscripts as finalists:

eat the dream by Katie Schmid of Lincoln, Nebraska

Interface by George T. Wilkerson of Raleigh, North Carolina

Postscript to War by Bill Glose of Yorktown, Virginia

Shellback by Jeanne-Marie Osterman of New York City, New York

Press 53 thanks everyone who sent in their manuscript for this competition. Tom said this was his most difficult competition yet to judge. We hope you will join us in congratulating Mohja Kahf for her win, and Katie Schmid, George T. Wilkerson, Bill Glose, and Jeanee-Marie Osterman on being named our finalists.


Winner 2019

Patricia Colleen Murphy of Phoenix, Arizona, has been named winner of the 2019 Press 53 Award for Poetry for her collection Bully Love.
 
Patricia teaches at Arizona State University where she founded Superstition Review. Her book Hemming Flames (Utah State University Press, 2016) won the May Swenson Poetry Award and the Milt Kessler Poetry Award.

Her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Quarterly West, The Iowa Review, and Black Warrior Review, and has received awards from Gulf Coast, Bellevue Literary Review, among others.

Bully Love was selected by Press 53 Poetry Series Editor Tom Lombardo from a field of more than 400 entries from forty-five states and the District of Columbia and will be published on April 1, 2019, as a Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection. At the time of publication, Ms. Murphy will receive ten copies of her book and her First Prize advance of $1,500.
 
Mr. Lombardo also selected eight Finalists:
 
Roundabout by Amy Clark of Stow, Massachusetts
 
Our Mother of Sorrows by Nina Clements of Ventura, California
 
Boi Bi by Kwabena Foli of Brooklyn, New York
 
Little What by Jeff Oaks of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
 
Forgotten Stages of Grief by C. Pope of Stillwater, Oklahoma
 
Selective Sweep by Carol Potter of Tunbridge, Vermont
 
Place Where Presence Was by Bret Shepard of Tacoma, Washington
 
A Wake with Nine Shades by Jennifer Speery Steinorth of Traverse City, Michigan
 
Everyone at Press 53 congratulates Patricia and our eight finalists, and we send grateful thanks to all the poets who entered our competition.

Entries for the 2020 Press 53 Award for Poetry will open on April 1, 2019

Previous winners

2018: The Arrows That Choose Us by Marilyn Annucci of Madison, WI

2018: The Arrows That Choose Us by Marilyn Annucci of Madison, WI

2017: Lion Brothers by Leona Sevick of Bridgewater, VA

2017: Lion Brothers by Leona Sevick of Bridgewater, VA

2016: Porridge by Richard Garcia of Charleston, SC

2016: Porridge by Richard Garcia of Charleston, SC

2015: Paradise Drive by Rebecca Foust of Kentfield, CA

2015: Paradise Drive by Rebecca Foust of Kentfield, CA