Here are the winners of our spring 2018 chapbook contest, judged by William Fargason!
FIRST PLACE ($100 honorarium and in-print publication): The Way I Learn To Take It Like A Girl, by Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
Edwards' chapbooks are $6 each, plus $2 for domestic shipping & handling, and may be purchased directly from the author. Requests for copies should be sent to TFLwinningchap@gmail.com. Please specify the number of copies you’d like, and the address to which they should be shipped. (Payment is accepted via PayPal only.)
Judge's review of the winning collection, The Way I Learn To Take It Like A Girl, by Elisabeth Adwin Edwards:
These elegiac poems ruminate on watching the slow death of a loved one and the loss of control that entails. But there is a quiet hope in that death: the expression of love and tenderness toward those still in this life. In the title poem as well as in others, the author shows an unflinching look at a family structure gone bad, and ultimately, the speaker’s strained position within it. The speaker’s main struggle is this book is where to find oneself amidst a crumbling family dynamic, especially when “there’s only so much space/ / a body can lose.” The memories of the abusive father figure get unpacked slowly in this collection, as the author writes of this pain with deft skill and careful attention to the music inherent in good narrative poetry. These poems map both the conscious and unconscious effects of loss, and how, when we care for the dead, we carry them with us.
SECOND PLACE ($25 honorarium plus online publication): Endlings, A Pennsylvania Sketchbook 2016-2018, by Nick Hilbourn
Publication coming soon!
This chapbook is a meditation on time, grounded in images of the natural world. This author interrogates domesticity, the space of the everyday, and the unasked-for pain of seasons moving into and out of the self as the self stays in one place—the home. In these poems, there is a sense of defeat, and acknowledgment, of time as an inhabitant of the body. This poet uses the archetype of seasons to ruminate on personal loss and death. They often use nature as a backdrop to their own loss, as these poems explore “the myth / of wilderness, of uncaged life,” only to find “there is no space left in the woods” for the self. But there is a sense of triumph in these poems, of realizing that futility of the struggle against time can become a sort of freedom in its resolve: “I sing and my voice is the sound of blood.” This chapbook recognizes the hope inherent in defeat, of a second chance with the coming seasons.
THIRD PLACE ($25 and online publication): REVEL/ATIONS by Lisa Lopez Smith
In this collection, the poet discusses the boundaries of language and loss, and identity found in both. Through both prose scenes and lyric stanzas, the poet explores identity rooted in Mexican culture and the precise, and often sensual, imagery of place. The poems show both the joy and struggle of the immigrant experience—through the barriers and breakthroughs of individual lives. These poems tether two cultures and locate the commonality and humanity between them.