The New Criterion Poetry Prize

[Posted 11:00 AM by David Yezzi]

The editors are pleased to announce that J. Allyn Rosser is the winner of the seventh annual New Criterion Poetry Prize for a book-length manuscript of poems that pay close attention to form. The judges this year were David Barber, Roger Kimball, Hilton Kramer, Rachel Hadas & myself.

Previous winners of the prize include Deborah Warren, Adam Kirsh, Charles Tomlinson, Geoffrey Brock, and, most recently, Bill Coyle. Of Coyle’s book, The God of This World to His Prophet, Eric McHenry wrote in The New York Times Book Review:

Reading “Aubade,” the tiny poem that concludes Coyle’s debut collection, is like witnessing a hole-in-one. It’s a single, flawless stroke: “On a dead street / in a high wall / a wooden gate / I don’t recall / ever seeing open / is today / and I who happen / to pass this way / in passing glimpse / a garden lit / by dark lamps / at the heart of it.” That final period (the cup, so to speak, into which the poem disappears) is the only punctuation. Coyle makes commas unnecessary by breaking the sentence so skillfully across dimeter lines. He also makes those clever alternating full- and off-rhymes seem perfectly inevitable. What ices it, though, is the bracing strangeness of that last image: “lit / by dark lamps.”

We are pleased that the series has for many years now attracted the attention of both readers and critics, and we are thrilled that Ms. Rosser’s superb book will be added to the list.

Ms. Rosser will receive $3,000 and her book Foiled Again will be published by Ivan R. Dee, Chicago in Fall 2007. All entrants to the contest will receive a copy of the winning book upon publication.