Poetry Contest Winners

2018

Winner of the Kay Murphy Prize for Poetry, judged by Danielle Pafunda:

Tell Me How It Makes You Feel, by Valerie Hsiung

About the winning poem, Pafunda said:

Let us write down our own words— // An unfolded map in lieu of tablecloth. When a child is disconnected from a language, a map is lost and a trauma incited. Valerie Hsiung’s poem seeks recovery, won’t stop at simile, calls on Trickster—sister, shaman, frolicking monk, free traveler, free from the genome—who links arms with us laughing, but also scolds: irony is no homeopathic against loss, earnestness no guarantee of reward. Pay attention to noise in this uncharted territory. It’s greener than you’d think in apricot valley’s pink hills. Who comes to get brown noise? Screechy white noise lover who can’t pronounce your name. Pay attention to doubles. When the architect misspeaks the scissors “we are,” will you be the the blade that stabilizes or the blade that drops? Can you recreate the map in cut-ups? Can you express that which refuses expression? Can you “Tell Me How It Makes You Feel”?

Finalists:

1st Runner-Up: “Message,” by Kathryn Jensen

2nd Runner-Up: “Bad Tidings,” by Patrick Cantrell

3rd Runner-Up: “Yoko,” by Danielle Zaccagnino

4th Runner-Up: “dig a cave into the future,” by Patrycja Humienik

2017

Winner of the Kay Murphy Prize for Poetry, judged by Kay Murphy:

“Praying Mantis” by Mara Adamitz Scrupe

About the winning poem, Murphy said:

“Mara Adamitz Scrupe’s ‘Praying Mantis’ is a beautiful and complex example of the various techniques available to us in creating a human-centered poem. My auditory sense is congratulations immediately seduced by the moderated alliteration and assonance. The title, followed by annus horibilis cut away in parentheses as if the Latin were the taxonomic category of the insect, introduces the subject of anguish. The plague, whatever it is, affects the speaker personally: it is horrible, it lasts for a year, and the mantis is praying for, not inflicting injury upon, the speaker. Through the artful rendering of suffering, my empathy and compassion are awakened.”

Finalists:

“Birds of the Illegal Trade” by Benjamin Garcia

“The Long Meadow” by Rosa Lane

2016

Winner of the Kay Murphy Prize for Poetry, judged by Myung Mi Kim:

“The Slave Owner’s Daughter Makes Soap,”  by Alexander Payne Morgan

Judge Myung Mi Kim praised the poem’s “fervent, vivid imagery” and called it “an exquisitely observed world made palpable through vibrant use of details and sounds. It  is at once concerned with the immediacy of the particular and intergenerational family legacies surrounding slavery and race. It traces a charged field of the voices, cadences, and narrative particles that become indelible markers for how we construct a reading of ourselves, our own historical becoming.”

Finalists:

“C-ration” by Taeyin ChoGlueck
“Yangtze Baiji Expedition Log” by Beatrice Szymkowiak

“The Privative Alpha” by Jenny Montgomery 

“Family Wheel No Tree,”  by Mara Adamitz Scrupe

2015

Winner of the Kay Murphy Prize for Poetry, judged by D.A. Powell:

“Plans to Disembark,” Seann Weir 

Finalists:

1st Runner Up: “Things I Wish I Told My Mother” by Samuel Piccone
2nd Runner Up: “Yard Sale Full of Old Meat” by Mark Baumer
Honorable Mentions: “Prologue” by Dylan Carpenter and “Elegy for a Bell” by Cintia Santana

2014

Winner of the Kay Murphy Prize for Poetry, judged by Jane Miller:

“The Loneliness of the Middle Distance Transmissions Aggregator” by Marco Maisto

Finalist:

“Come Back” by Sally Rodgers

2013

Winner of the Kay Murphy Prize for Poetry, judged by Jane Miller:

“Nude to Pink” by Madeline Vardell

2012

Winner of the Kay Murphy Prize for Poetry:

“Then, the Unabridged” by Benjamin Sutton

Finalists:

“I Expect to Make a Complete Recovery” by Rachel Bennett
“If from a Great Nature, Our Own Abyss” by Andrew Ruzkowski

2011

Winner of the Kay Murphy Prize for Poetry:

“Kissing Oscar Wilde” by Jade Sylvan

Finalists:

“Short Lists on a Diagnosis” by Aran Donovan
“Love in the Graveyard” by W.F. Lantry
“Mazatlan” by Gabriel Spera