This judge was dazzled by the subtlety and utter power of the poem "White." Worlds within and behind visible public worlds. Everything we don't see and hear—private, precious pulse of identities.
Reading all the finalists' poems felt like entering a potent kingdom of Mattering—topics/subjects of essential collective care, poems embodying deep witness, speaking up in hard places, not shuddering or seeking popular favor—poems of responsibility and elegantly shaped conviction. It was a gift to read them. They are all winners.
—Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye will be featured at the 2012 Split This Rock Poetry Festival. She is the author and/or editor of more than 30 volumes. Her books of poetry include 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, A Maze Me: Poems for Girls, Red Suitcase, Words Under the Words, Fuel, and You & Yours (a best-selling poetry book of 2006). She has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Witter Bynner Fellow. She has received a Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, four Pushcart Prizes, and numerous honors for her children’s literature, including two Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards. In 2010 she was elected to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets.
First Place - White by Leona Sevick
Leona Sevick serves as Associate Provost and faculty member in the department of English at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. She earned a doctorate in literature from the University of Maryland and has written extensively on the work of the writer Willa Cather. Her most recent poems appear in Memoir Journal and are forthcoming in Bateau. She writes poems and stories about growing up in an ethnically mixed family in rural America.
Second Place - Làt-Kat by Elizabeth Hoover
Elizabeth Hoover is a poet, critic, and journalist. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Natural Bridge, and The Massachusetts, among others. In 2011, she was a resident at the Virginia Colony of the Creative Arts and a nominee for Sundress Publications Best of the Net. She has contributed poetry reviews and author interviews to such publications as The Paris Review, The Los Angeles Times, and The Dallas Morning News. She recently completed a biography of Suzanne Collins and is currently working on a biography of Robert Hayden. You can see more of her work at www.ehooverink.com.
Third Place - A constellation of mint by Kevin McLellan
Kevin McLellan is the author of the chapbook Round Trip (Seven Kitchens, 2010), a collaborative series of poems with numerous women poets. He has recent or forthcoming poems in journals including: Barrow Street, Colorado Review, failbetter, Horse Less Review, Kenyon Review Online, Versal, Western Humanities Review, Witness and numerous others. Kevin lives in Cambridge MA with Frankie (a canary), and sometimes teaches poetry workshops at the University of Rhode Island in Providence.