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Natasha Trethewey Selects Taylor Byas as Winner of 2021 Adrienne Rich Award

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The editors of the Beloit Poetry Journal are delighted to announce that final judge Natasha Trethewey has chosen Taylor Byas’s “Tell it Like a Movie |Rewind” as the winner of the 2021 Adrienne Rich Award for Poetry.

Taylor Byas is a Black Chicago native currently living in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was the first place winner of both the 2020 Poetry Super Highway and the 2020 Frontier Poetry Award for New Poets Contests and a finalist for the 2020 Frontier OPEN Prize. She is the author of the chapbook Bloodwarm from Variant Lit, and her debut full-length, I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times, is forthcoming from Soft Skull Press in spring 2023. 

Of Byas’s poem, Natasha Trethewey writes, “Tell It Like a Movie | Rewind” is a stunning poem that unfolds like a near palindrome, the repetition of images and phrases drawing the action into sharp focus. Through its cinematic lens—the camera’s eye moving in and out of tight angles—a traumatic scene is rendered in harrowing detail, the tension palpable, heightening, and powerfully felt.

Along with naming the winner, Trethewey selected two finalists, Anthony Borruso, for “Diagnosis: Thelonius Monk” and Corey Van Landingham, for “The Eye of God.”

The editors also selected as semi-finalists Kemi Alabi’s “Against Heaven,” Taylor Byas’s “Shutter,” Jessica Fisher’s “Shadow Play,” Huan He’s “Union Pacific,” Monica Ong’s “The Daughter's Almanac,” and Monica Rico’s “American Crow.”

The winning poem, as well as the finalists and semi-finalists, will appear in the Fall 2021 issue of the BPJ.

We’re grateful to the Adrienne Rich Literary Trust and to all who submitted poems for this year’s contest.

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