Announcing Winner of Nightboat Prize for Poetry!

Announcing Winner of Nightboat Prize for Poetry!

We are pleased to announce we have chosen the manuscript Suelo Tide Cement by Christina Vega-Westhoff of Buffalo, NY, as the winner of this year’s Nightboat Poetry Prize. Her manuscript will be published in Spring 2018.

Christina Vega-Westhoff lives in Buffalo, NY, where she teaches movement and writing with The Bird's Nest Circus Arts Center, Just Buffalo Literary Center, and the Geneseo Migrant Center, and co-edit Tzak, a journal of translational poetics. Poetry from Suelo Tide Cement appears in the installation Big Splash, the journals Horse Less Review, LIT, New American Writing, a Perimeter, and Word For/Word, in Spanish translation in Estudio Nuboso’s booklet SUELO Vol. 1, and in a bilingual videopoem in Tzak. Her translations of Panamanian writer Melanie Taylor Herrera’s work appear in Asymptote, Exchanges, Ezra, Metamorphoses, PRISM International, and Waxwing. 
We were thrilled to receive so many excellent manuscripts and so this year we chose three additional manuscripts to publish: crosslight for youngbird by Asiya Wadud of Brooklyn, Action in the Orchards by Fred Schmalz of Chicago, and Invasive species by Marwa Helal, of Brooklyn.

Asiya Wadud's work appears in The Felt, The Recluse, the PEN Poetry Series, Rattle, and Sublevel (forthcoming). With masters degrees in City and Regional Planning and African Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University, respectively, Asiya’s graduate school work on place and right-to-the-city informs much of her present writing. Asiya teaches second grade in the daytime at Saint Ann’s School and English to recently arrived immigrants in the nighttime. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Born in Al Mansurah, Egypt and currently residing in Brooklyn, New York, Marwa Helal is a poet and journalist whose work has appeared in Apogee, Hyperallergic, the Offing, Poets & Writers, the Recluse, Winter Tangerine and elsewhere. She is the winner of BOMB Magazine’s 2016 Biennial Poetry Contest selected by Bhanu Kapil. A fellow of Brooklyn Poets and Cave Canem, Helal received her MFA in creative writing from the New School.

Fred Schmalz is an artist and poet whose current work focuses on textual response to encounters with dance, music, and visual art. He makes art in collaboration with Susy Bielak as Balas & Wax. Recent writing has appeared in publications including Spinning Jenny, Conduit, jubilat, A Public Space, and We Are So Happy to Know Something. He publishes Swerve Press.

We congratulate the remaining finalists as well:
Nikia Chaney, us mouth
Brett DeFries, Incoming
Joshua Edwards, Agonistes
Gillian Osborne, Seasonal Disorders
Kimo Reder, A Maxim-Map of Manhattan
Meredith Stricker, As Though Words Were a Skin Between Us
We also wish to recognize the following strong manuscripts which were semi-finalists:
Samuel Ace, Our Weather Our Sea
Geoffrey Babbitt, Appendices Pulled from a Study of Light
Robert Booras, The Infected Nucleus
Tanis Franco, Quarry
Eleanor Graves, Demure
Ann Guthrie, Let X Be (Rogue)
Emily Liebowitz, National Park
Emily Martin, No Not Even Like
Farid Matuk, The Real Horse
Matt McBride, Polis
Christopher Miller, Vagrant Suspects and Mythologies
Julian Park, Every Breath You Take
Rush Rankin, Redacted
Elena Rivera, 31 Stations: Morning Hours
Jenny Xie, Inwardly 

Judges Citation for Suelo Tide Cement by Christina Vega-Westhoff

Suelo Tide Cement is comprise of five long series/sequences of poetry whose language and lines actually move like bodies in a dance or water through its forms of rain, air, groundwater or lake. There is a nearly geological or chemical pattern to the syntax and grammar of the poems as they tumble together and apart. Punctuation, typography, cross-outs, cross-lingual transitions and the architecture/choreography of the page itself all become nonverbal partners to the sonic and orthographic energy of the text. “Suelo,” soil, ground, and the meeting point of elements in the compost of the poem compose together a music of startling effect. The reader is never allowed to be a passive receiver of the poems but must always rise up, meet the text, wrap their own mind around and through the thought patterns the language creates.

Christina Vega-Westhoff says, “These pages begin from and with the multidisciplinary residency Suelo (Soil) held in coastal Veraguas, Panama in January 2014. Suelo was co-facilitated by the Panamanian cultural ecologist, performer, and visual artist Ela Spalding, Estudio Nuboso, and the Chicagoan artist Claire Pentecost and researcher Brian Holmes for the purpose of learning from and creating with soil from ecological, artistic, and community perspectives.”

Fragments make lyrics make a narrative make an epic. Vega-Westhoff’s deep concern is finding the meeting point between personal and geologic experiences and so one is never whether the poem takes place in the flash of a second or whether whole eons of planetary time are tectonically drifting. It is, in ways, an “uncomfortable” book; like Evelyn Reilly’s Apocalypso, or Harryette Mullen’s Muse & Drudge, or Leslie Scalapino’s The Dihedrons Gazelle/Dihedrals Zoom, Suelo Tide Cement is a path-breaking book that must invent its own language, its own form, its own approach to poetry in order to come into an off-centered world. - Kazim Ali

The deadline for the next Nightboat Books Poetry Prize will November 15, 2017. Please check for more details.