Announcing the 2020 Free Verse Editions

New Measure Poetry Prize Winner

Laura Wetherington, Parallel Resting Places
[New Measure Poetry Prize, selected by Peter Gizzi]

What happens when a poet tries to filter the untranslatable from another language? In the spirit of Jack Spicer’s After Lorca, Laura Wetherington’s second book uses the concept of translation to create original poems that run through a liminal space where meaning, mishearing, and dreams collide—sometimes midsentence—and hinge into song: “My man animal took shape in a shadow, / climbed over an obstacle, / became the void.” Love letters to queer writers punctuate the collection. Laura Wetherington’s first book was selected for the National Poetry Series. She teaches in SNC Tahoe’s MFA Program and at Amsterdam University College.

Free Verse Editions 2020

Baba Badji, Ghost Letters

From his own deceased mother, Baba Badji’s Ghost Letters creates a ghost mother who becomes a presiding presence in his first collection of poems. Ghost Letters explores the intimacy of a private experience, focused on the momentary. At the same time, it focuses on a personal awareness of belonging, and in ruptured storylines investigates networks of people in different registers across mortalities, experiences of violence and hospitality, exile, history, and African myth. Baba Badji is a Senegal American poet, novelist, translator, essayist, researcher, cultural critic and a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Allison Funk, The Visible Woman

In The Visible Woman, Allison Funk tells “a story of how we disappear.” She also comes to believe she “can create a likeness / to embody herself.” As she attempts self-portraiture, Funk often looks to others as if they were “one body”: women who have lost or, like her, nearly lost their children as well as those who have endured horrors she has been spared. Anyone, she writes, may seem “light-years away / until we look inside.” Allison Funk is the author of five previous books of poems, including her most recent, Wonder Rooms (Parlor Press /Free Verse Editions, 2015).

Rick Snyder, Here City

Rick Snyder’s new book provocatively asks what it means to write “lyric poetry after America.” Steeped in the atmospherics of catastrophic climate change and the slow unraveling of the neoliberal Pax Americana, Here City charts the psychic harmonies and dislocations of real and virtual urban landscapes. Angular yet expressive, these poems respond to an era in which endless amounts of data are soaked up by objects “as small and dark / as the eyes of a starling,” and “the Windows flag wav[es] bravely / until the story disappears.” Rick Snyder is the author of Escape from Combray (Ugly Duckling, 2009).

Daniel Tiffany, Cry Baby Mystic

Bobbing alongside the historical figure of Margery Kempe, the ragged voice of this book operates under a strict compulsion, drawn into predicaments that are not its own and ferried into dead-end channels by the engine of syllabic numbers. The revolving sentences overheard by the reader of this poem survive only as remnants of sorrow now craved by all who have known it, a sorrow that cannot be retrieved. Daniel Tiffany is the author of five previous full-length collections of poetry and five volumes of literary criticism. He is a recipient of the Berlin Prize, awarded by the American Academy in Berlin.

Photo by Joss Woodhead on Unsplash