Press 53 announces WHISH by Jackie Craven of Schenectady, NY, as winner of the 2024 Press 53 Award for Poetry. The press also announces Sara Reis Dziekonski of Gulfport, FL, as Runner-Up for her collection Today’s Specials. Both books will be published by Press 53, at which time Craven will receive a $1,000 advance and Dziekonski a $500 advance. Each poet will receive 53 copies of their collection when published.
The two collections were selected from 401 manuscripts entered into the competition by poets in 46 states and the District of Columbia, and were judged by Tom Lombardo, Press 53 Poetry Series Editor, with assistance from intern Joy Ahn.
Regarding WHISH, Lombardo said, “It’s rare to find such perfect prose poetry. The poet’s abrupt swerves and disruptive metaphors drop readers off cliffs, repeatedly. Marvelous work.” In Today’s Specials, Lombardo was attracted by the poet’s authentic voice. “The narrator unveils truths of a family-run restaurant from the other side of your diner dinner plate. I could smell the food buried in the tension. These poems made me hungry.”
Jackie Craven writes poetry and prose steeped in magical realism. Recent poems appeared in AGNI, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Cincinnati Review, New Ohio Review, Pleiades, Ploughshares, and others. She’s the author of the collection Secret Formulas & Techniques of the Masters (Brick Road Poetry Press) and two chapbooks, Cyborg Sister (Headmistress Press) and Our Lives Became Unmanageable (Omnidawn award for fabulist poetry). After completing her Doctor of Arts in English at SUNY-Albany, she worked as a journalist covering architecture, art, and travel.
Sara Reis Dziekonski, a native of Buffalo, NY, is a graduate of SUNY Fredonia and holds an MFA in poetry from Chatham University in Pittsburgh. Her first book, Come In, We’re Open, won the 2009 Stevens Poetry Manuscript Competition. Her chapbooks include Marrying Maracuyá (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.), which won the Cathy Smith Bowers Chapbook Competition. Her poems have appeared in “American Life in Poetry,” Slipstream, Potomac Review, SWWIM Every Day, Connecticut River Review, and LABOR: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas, among others.
Lombardo also selected five finalists: The Forest Comes with It by Carolee Bennett of Clarksville, NY, True Crime by Juliana Gray of Alfred, NY, No Swaddle by McKenzie Kozak of Candler, NC, Jefferson Water and Other Poems by J. Eric Smith of Sedona, AZ, and Lifelines by Ellen Zhang of Troy, MI.
Press 53 is located in Winston-Salem, NC, with books distributed worldwide by Ingram Books and their partners. Since October 2005, Press 53 has been finding and sharing remarkable voices through collections of poetry and short fiction, and through their online journal, Prime Number Magazine.