In selecting this year’s winner, Claire Bateman stated that all the manuscripts distinguished themselves and that each writer possessed a “wonderfully distinct voice.” As for the winner, Bateman shared the following comment:
Insomnia in Another Town is a peripatetic exploration of place and displacement; animal life and strange weathers; the exigencies of race, class, and gender as childhood memories emit a dark radiance by which to navigate the present. These poems are quietly perceptive, unflinching: There is no small grief…/for all are/interconnected. One touch/sends tremors through our core/like the fly in the web/that wakes the spider at its center. Nevertheless, there’s significant courage here with grace notes of buoyancy as readers are reawakened to joy in bird song along the power lines/and between the tunes/on the radio,/the interstices/of thoughts/no one thinks about.
The full list of finalists is below:
Lisa Hase Jackson, winner, Insomnia in Another Town (Poetry)
Zorina Frey, Runner-up, Redline U.S. A Story (Poetry)
Hannah Marshall, The Shape Good Can Take (Poetry)
The Converse MFA Alumni Book Prize is awarded every two years to a Converse MFA alumna who has entered an original book-length manuscript to its contest. All submitted manuscripts are judged anonymously by a writer of national distinction, and the author of the winning manuscript(s) is awarded a standard royalty book contract, publication by Clemson University Press who will edit, publish, and distribute each prize-winning book, plus the winner is invited (expenses paid) to give a public reading from the winning manuscript at the Converse MFA program’s residency session.
The Converse MFA Alumni Book Prize is part of a publishing partnership between the low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at Converse and Clemson University Press. The Clemson-Converse Literature Series publishes a diverse and distinguished body of contemporary poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction essay collections. While the series will occasionally feature an outstanding anthology, the majority of the books will be selected through two competitions, each of which will run biennially: a national poetry prize for a full-length book, an award open to all poets publishing in English, and the Converse MFA Alumni Book Award Series, open to alumni of the Converse Low Residency MFA.
About the winner:
Lisa Hase-Jackson is author of the poetry collection Flint & Fire (The Word Works, 2019), which was selected for the 2019 Hilary Tham Capital Collection Series. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including Cimarron Review, South Carolina Review, and Mom Egg Review. Awarded residencies at the Kimmel Harding-Nelson Center for the Arts and Vermont Studio Center, her work can also be found in Ice on a Hot Stove (Clemson University Press) and The Crafty Poet (Terrapin Press) anthologies. She has taught at universities and writing workshops across the U.S.
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