We’re so very thrilled to announce that poet M.L. Brown has been chosen as the winner of The Claudia Emerson Poetry Chapbook Award, for her chapbook titled Drought.
Contest judge Sandra Beasley, author of Count the Waves and I Was the Jukebox, offers this citation for her selection of Drought:
“Containers crack, / no longer hold—” opens “Lamentation,” one of the key moments in M.L. Brown’s stunning Drought. What kind of containers? “[P]ickle jars, row boat, / mother’s arms.” These poems dance between absence and presence, erasure and invocation. I cannot call them elegies, because they’re brimming with the bright particulars of a life in motion. But just as a bee’s death can be embedded in its sting, ache often hides within ecstasy.
This publication celebrates the legacy of Claudia Emerson (1957–2014), a beloved Virginia poet and mentor to many. Emerson believed in poetry’s ability to parse even the silence. She would have appreciated Brown’s attention to syntax and origins of language, her soundscapes, the resonant endings. Although nothing can amend the loss of Emerson’s distinct voice, the jmww chapbook series is dedicated to sharing her vibrant legacy.
Many congratulations go out to M.L. as well as to two finalists—Chen Chen and Noah Stetzer—who were honored by Sandra as runners up, for manuscripts respectively titled Set the Garden on Fire and Because I Can See Needing a Knife.
We also would like to express our appreciation for the many outstanding manuscripts we received from all contest entrants. In addition to the winner and finalists, semi-finalists we would like to recognize are:
Nick Admussen, Nancy E. Allen, Michelle Bitting, Mark Jay Brewin, Jr., Aaron Brown, Colleen Coyne, Iris Jamahl Dunkle, Cornelius Eady, Doug Fuller, Piotr Gwiazda, Lesley Jenike, Vandana Khanna, Kathleen Kirk, Laura Kolbe, Jeffrey Ethan Lee, Jon Loomis, Carley Moore, G.H. Mosson, Jessica Pierce, Terry Savoie, Suzanne Simmons, Jenna Kilic Somers, Keli Stewart, Monica Wendel, Amie Whittemore, and Harold Whit Williams.
Thanks again to all, and many thanks to Sandra for her dedication in judging the contest, and to Kent Ippolito for his graciousness in allowing this work in Claudia’s name. We’re excited to be publishing Drought as a follow-up to our first poetry chapbook, Jessica Poli’s Glassland, and as the first part of a series that has so much meaning for us.
-Ashlie and Jen