2018 Airlie Prize Results

Winner:

Wonder Tissue          Hannah Larrabee (Boston, MA) Publication Date: September 2019

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Hannah Larrabee is a poet, science-geek, and former Mainer who grew up on a blueberry farm. Her most recent chapbook Murmuration (Seven Kitchens Press) was selected as part of the Robin Becker Series for LGBTQ poets. She’s had work appear in: Harpoon Review, Houseguest, Lambda Literary Spotlight, Rock & Sling, and elsewhere. Hannah was one of 22 artists selected by NASA to see the James Webb Space Telescope before it launches in 2021. Her JWST poems are online and were displayed at Goddard Space Center. She lives in historic Salem, Massachusetts, works in technology, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of New Hampshire. 

Hannah Larrabee’s Wonder Tissue immerses us in intricacy and intimacy, from a frozen mummy to the jostling at the “junction of rail car bones.” In a notable range of poems we are bidden to Hieronymus Bosch haunting the eco-migrations of trees. To imaginary conceits of the poet’s car when she’s not there. To consider Peter, a frail Apostle led down a corridor to acknowledge the White Nose Syndrome currently killing bats. Deft poems survey the vast and minute, by story and analysis, unifying right hemisphere, left hemisphere, giving notice to a reader perhaps drawn too inward by the pixels of a surrogate cosmos that a “Braille of history” waits just outside the open window. –Tim Whitsel

Please visit Hannah’s Website

Runners-Up:

The Cupped Field      Deidre O’Connor (Mifflinburg, PA)

Two-time Airlie runner-up, Dierdre O’Connor’s The Cupped Field uses rich form and language to plumb lives “far” and “near.” We're invited to enter distant worlds and histories: “can’t you see yourself/standing inside the corn…”—and urged to caution. Nostalgia, notes this poet, is often “tinted the color of urine.” In her poems, we enter intimate spaces: homes, relationships, and even the inside our physical selves: “given the skull, the brain must be/the darkest part of the body.” But as near swerves to known deaths, so far veers to the unfathomable distances of the mind, the future beyond us, and the strange space of memory. The Cupped Field offers a rewarding journey. –Kelly Terwilliger

All Anyone Could Talk About          Mamie Morgan (Greenville, SC)

The aptly named All Anyone Could Talk About toes the line between confessional and found poetry. Mamie Morgan’s voice is clear, direct, and raw. She takes a familiar environment, the classroom, and digs into the meaty hearts of everything around her. Full of metaphors and frank language, it’s the kind of poetry that’s accessible to all—the kind of poetry that makes someone say, “I never used to like poetry, but…” This is what happens when a teacher is armed with the observing, natural eye of a poet. This is a voice that needs to be heard. –Jessica Mehta

Finalists:

Bell I Wake To          Patty Crane (MA)

Bell I Wake To has seductively accessible language, allowing the spill of words to build a landscape of images, there is nature in its kindness and kindness in its nature. What has gone before is present in the fabric of trees and woven lives. Time is written by us, on us and in all things—frog and kingfisher, the reflection of life in its constancy, the mirror a growing world we see ourselves in. A beautiful collection. –Gary Lark

[neurotic love baby]            Marie Conlan (CO)

[neurotic love baby] moves with a lyrical ingenuity that is inviting and illuminating. These sequences place trust in the page as an open space for voice to explore, claim, and dwell, while also placing trust in the reader to follow along. This risk-taking makes for an exhilarating reading experience, one both intimate in feeling and expansive in thought. One of Marie Conlan’s accomplishments here is similar to a moment in one of the lyrics: “The best lovers are pinching at their knuckles, examining the sensation of bleeding. Pinching a little too hard.” The best poems, too, “pinch” at experience and examine the sensation, and Conlan gives the reader rich depths to consider.

Semi-Finalists:

Raven Fascicles by Kierstin Bridger (Ridgway, CO)

A Feeling for Good Water by Elizabeth Chapman (Palo Alto, CA)

Anatomy of Want by Daniel Lee (Seattle, WA)

Crybaby Bridge by Kathy Goodkin (Greensboro/Winston-Salem, NC)

Breather by Ioanna Carlsen (Tesuque, NM)

Perigee by Diane Kerr (Pittsburgh, PA)

Two Pockets by Heather Altfeld (Chico, CA)

Of Water & Other Soft Constructions by Heidi Reszies (Richmond, VA)

Rare, Wondrous Things by Alyse Bensel (Lawrence, KS)

Sins by Debbie Benson (New York, NY)

The Breakup Variations by Kathleen Spivack (Watertown, MA)