LOIS MORRELL PRIZE
Colette Gerstmann (“Cyborg”) / George Abraham (“[conflict/occupation”]
JOHN RUSSELL HAYES 1
Alexis Riddick, “The Black Girl Speaks of Drowning”
JOHN RUSSELL HAYES 2
Maya Kikuchi (translation), “The Wanderer”
Leah Schwartz, “The Lives of Sarah”
Marissa Cohen, “Caregiver”
Tina Zhu (translation) “Record of a Dream”
Margaret Hughes, “The Self-Trimming Wick”
Tristan Beiter, “Danville”
Evangela Shread, “Superstition”
"I think poetry is a constant invitation to slow down, and I think a good poem—even if the poem itself is quick, kinetic, shifting—will show the reader how to do that. It will take you with it. It will teach you what kind of attention it wants.
In this way, I also think poetry is a genre that particularly invites re-reading, revisiting. I don’t use the word invite by chance—or visit, for that matter. To put it another, more personal way, the poems I love most are the poems that make me long to revisit them, inhabit them, and try to figure out how they work. These poems ask me into their homes, and they invite me back. It’s their language that does this—it’s however they do whatever they do in technical, musical, structural ways, as well as in intellectual and emotional ones, that beckon to us, open themselves to us, embrace us, startle us, challenge us, maybe even subvert what we thought we wanted, maybe even shove us, but nonetheless let us close, and let us go again.
I had many such experiences while reading the poems submitted to the Lois Morrell and John Russell Hayes contest. Over and over again, I was struck and delighted by the range of styles, textures, registers, concerns, and convictions at work in these poems. I hope you’ll believe me when I say that I feel truly privileged to have read them all. I hope you’ll also allow me to say something that might sound like a cliché, but which I think must be said, and which I know I need to hear myself sometimes: that poetry contests and awards (and even publications) are only one way to acknowledge the work we do as artists; the potential for that work to grow and change; and the passion and curiosity we must feel in order to do it at all. I also mean it when I say that these submissions include many poems that I would have loved to recognize in the format of this contest, and that this is just one of many contests, as I’m just one of many readers out there." ~ Robin Myers '10
The judge for the 2017 poetry awards was poet and alumna Robin Myers.
Robin graduated Swarthmore with High Honors in 2010, with a major in English Literature and a minor in Latin American Studies. She now lives and works in Mexico City. In 2016 Robin’s first collections of poems were published simultaneously in Mexico, Argentina, and Spain under the titles of Amalgama/Conflations (Mexico) and Lo demás [Else] (Spain). These volumes include the poems both in English and in translations into Spanish.
Robin Myers awarded the prizes and read from her own work on Tuesday, March 28th. Congratulations again!