Pictures at an Exhibition: A Petersburg Album by Philip Metres wins 2014 Akron Poetry Prize

Maxine Chernoff, this year’s judge, has chosen Pictures at an Exhibition: A Petersburg Album by Philip Metres of Cleveland, Ohio as the 2014 Akron Poetry Prize winner. The contest winner was selected from a total of 340 entries.

About the winning manuscript, Chernoff comments:

Pictures at an Exhibition: A Petersburg Album takes its name from Modest Musorgsky's moody music meant to simulate a stroll through a gallery, but the “pictures” Philip Metres describes are fraught with all the tensions that place, history, language, and self can mingle. The poems take on the harshness and vitality of contemporary Russia in its hopeful and heartless state of transition. It includes palaces and pay toilets, fairytales and current gossip, the Neva River's opulence and the coldness of the streets filled with suffering humanity of the “dear city midwifed from Peter's mind.” Inventive and various in its approach to what structures a poem, there are constant risks and delights in the “album” of observations deeply informed by the emotional history of what it means to know a country, a city, and a language both translated and untranslatable. The narrator both witnesses and embodies knowledge and interrogates meaning's weighty presence. In this far-ranging chronicle of being alive to a certain place and moment, over-arching shadows and traces of those famous and less so join in the music of the poems. The many voices that are invoked make these poems, even the smaller, intimate ones, waver on the brink of telling more. Eyes closed or open, our narrator “whispers” truths in the margins of the poems while the text makes claims on the reader to listen and to see purely, eyes open to the terror and the beauty, all the while using the power of his language to translate “misery as a door to pleasure.”

The University of Akron Press is also pleased to announce that it will publish the poetry collection The Veronica Maneuver by Jennifer Moore of Defiance, Ohio as the Editor’s Choice selection from the 2014 Akron Poetry Prize competition.

The judge for the 2015 Akron Poetry Prize will be Carmen Giménez Smith. Carmen Giménez Smith is the author of a memoir, Bring Down the Little Birds, four poetry collections— Milk and FilthGoodbye, FlickerThe City She Was, and Odalisque in Pieces. Milk and Filth was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry. She is the recipient of a 2011 American Book Award, the 2011 Juniper Prize for Poetry, and a 2011-2012 fellowship in creative nonfiction from the Howard Foundation. She recently co-edited the anthology Angels of the Americplyse: New Latin@ Writing (Counterpath, 2014). A CantoMundo Fellow and formerly a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is the editor-in-chief of the literary journal Puerto del Sol and the publisher of Noemi Press.

Full guidelines may be found here.

2014 FINALISTS
Michelle Y. Burke, Animal Purpose
Liz Countryman, My Upset Versus Your Upset
Laura Eve Engel, Things that Go
Jennie Malboeuf, Heavy Animals
Kyle McCord, Recklessness and Light
Jennifer Moore, The Veronica Maneuver
Kathryn Nuernberger, The End of Pink
Danielle Pafunda, Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to groan!
Ethel Rackin, I’ll Cross that Bridge
Joshua Ware, Unwanted Invention

2014 SEMIFINALISTS
Julie Babcock, Rules for Rearrangement
Elizabeth J. Colen, What Weaponry
Stephen Danos, Based on a Book Based on a True Story
Samantha Deal, [Taxonomies / Something Opened]
Debra Kang Dean, Orientation: Landscape & Portrait
John Estes, Stop Motion Still Life
Rebecca Morgan Frank, Sometimes We’re All Living in a Foreign Country
Kit Frick, Orbit Engine
Rebecca Foust, Paradise Drive
Anna Leahy, Blueshift
Sarah Marcus, They Were Bears
Karissa Morton, Amuse the Darkness
Michael C. Peterson, Republic, Repeater
Mary Quade, Local Extinctions
Gale Marie Thompson, Expeditions to the Polar Seas
Erin Elizabeth Smith, Down: The Alice Poems

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