The editors of the Beloit Poetry Journal are delighted to announce that final judge Patricia Smith has chosen Philip Metres’ “When It Rains in Gaza” as the winner of the 2019 Adrienne Rich Award for Poetry.
Philip Metres has written ten books, including Sand Opera (2015), The Sound of Listening: Poetry as Refuge and Resistance (2018), and the forthcoming Shrapnel Maps (2020). Awarded the Lannan Fellowship and two Arab American Book Awards, he is professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University.
Of Metres’ poem, Patricia Smith writes, “I was riveted by the undercurrent of sonic mastery that bolsters these hard stories with tenderness and song.”
Along with naming the winner, Smith selected two finalists. Of Hillery Stone’s “Coyotes,” Smith writes, “Once that resounding image kicks off this poem, the synapses fire, and those unexpected connections comprise an unrelenting human story.” Of Jeff Tigchelaar’s “Search History,” she writes, “The restless progression of this compelling poem jolts and disturbs its reader--but the poet's exemplary skill makes this utterly necessary narrative impossible to turn away from.”
The editors also selected as semifinalists Micah Bournes’ “Lament for Mother Tubman,” K. Avvirin Gray’s “Discuss.,” Eireann Lorsung’s “An archaeology,” and Anna Ross’ “She threw herself upon the coffin.” The winning poem, as well as the finalists and semifinalists, will appear in the Fall 2019 issue of the BPJ.
We’re grateful to the Adrienne Rich Literary Trust and to all who submitted poems for this year’s contest. Watch our website for details about the 2020 award.