Past Judges & Winners
2016 Reasons for Smoking by Xandria Phillips, judged by Claudia Rankine
2015 But What Will We Do by Adrienne Raphel, judged by Robyn Schiff
2014 City County by Tony Mancus, judged by Ben Lerner
But What Will We Do
Adrienne Raphel's But What Will We Do was chosen by Robyn Schiff as the winner of our 2015 contest.
Adrienne Raphel was raised in southern New Jersey and northern Vermont. Raphel has an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and is a PhD candidate at Harvard, where she studies poetics and plays word games. She writes for the New Yorker online, and she has had work featured in, among other publications, the Paris Review Daily, the Atlantic online, Lana Turner Journal, Prelude, Poetry Northwest, and the Toast. Her first full-length collection What Was It For, winner of the Rescue Press Black Box Poetry Prize, is forthcoming in 2016.
Robyn Schiff has said of Raphel’s work “What indeed will we do with the dangerous chants and terrifying, unsettling tonal shifts at play in But What Will We Do? This violently charming, apocalypse-charged collection is ‘wound and unwinding’ toward a reeling undertow where menacing rhyme and swirling repetition lure the innocent into the harm’s way that the best poetry promises. There’s something seriously sinister in the revelry here, where a ‘boy is practicing the origami goose/ on a thousand-dollar bill; the roses rot, war planes fly overhead, and everyone’s meanwhile marching down the basement stairs, all ‘Still to the tune of the carousel.’”
Tony Mancus' City Country was chosen by Ben Lerner as the winner of our 2014 contest.
Tony Mancus is the author of two other chapbooks, Bye Land (Greying Ghost) and Bye Sea (Tree Lights Books). In 2008, with Sommer Browning, he founded Flying Guillotine Press. He has taught creative writing for many years—most recently with Writopia Lab DC and previously at Hunter College in New York. He currently works as a technical writer.
Ben Lerner has said of Tony's work: “Neither the built space of the city nor a fantasy of pastoral escape; instead, these poems are a zone where the natural and artificial interpenetrate, often violently: electricity circulating through a doomed calf, the blade of a mower that “bends like / a thought / into the future.” In other words, the work is real--poems that summon considerable lyric powers to cut through the genre’s false consolations: “and the guests / guess wrong / about the necks // of birds / of reptiles / of mammals // of the hurt on the human form…” The line is the blade; see it shining in Tony’s hands.”