Tupelo Press Names the 2016 Berkshire Prize Winner

Tupelo Press is delighted to announce that Gabrielle Calvocoressi has selected Elizabeth Acevedo’s Medusa Reads La Negra’s Palm as winner of our 2016 Berkshire Prize for a First or Second Book of Poetry.

Medusa Reads La Negra’s Palm is the book I need right now. Maybe that’s selfish to say? I’ll still say it. Medusa Reads La Negra’s Palm is a book that tells me this world is as violent, horrific, and full of love as I imagined. It is a book that rigorously wields its poetics as means of investigating what it is to be a young woman in the world, to be vulnerable, to be a witness to history that becomes a myth that breaks us and puts us back together again. Medusa and La Negra sit on the stoop, go to the nail salon, comfort each other, make offerings. And so do we. Which is to say, we are the myth we make of ourselves. And what making! Whether in her gorgeous ‘Rat Ode’ or the monumental, ‘Ode to The Continuously Renamed. For 109th‘ Elizabeth Acevedo makes a litany of our looking. These are poems that move us forward and deeper into ourselves.”
from Gabrielle Calvocoressi’s judge’s citation
Elizabeth Acevedo holds a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. She is a National Poetry Slam Champion, Cave Canem Fellow, CantoMundo Fellow, and participant of the Callaloo Writer’s Workshop. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the Notre Dame Review, Callaloo, Puerto Del Sol, Poet Lore, and Beltway Quarterly. Her chapbook, Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths, will be published by YesYes Books in September 2016. She lives in Washington, D.C..


Tracy Zeman of Springfield, Illinois, for Empire


Michael Peterson of Cincinnati, Ohio, for Repeater
Zohra Saed of Brooklyn, New York, for The Secret Lives of Misspelled Cities
David Thacker of Tallahassee, Florida, for Dark Horse


Merridawn Duckler of Portland, Oregon, for Given Name
John James of Washington, D.C., for Forget the Song
Rebecca Lehmann of Potsdam, New York, for Dog Star
Stuart Lishan of Delaware, Ohio, for The Archeology of Light
Jacquelyn Malone of Lowell, Massachusetts, for Solitude of the Evening Train
Shivani Mehta of Calabasas, California, for The Rapture
Soham Patel of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for stage
Michael Snediker of Houston, Texas, for The New York Editions
Timothy Welch of Tallahassee, Florida, for Odd Bloom Seen from Space
Kathleen Winter of Glen Ellen, California, for Pale Blue Eye
Our deeply felt thanks to Gabrielle Calvocoressi for doing the impossibly heroic job of selecting a winner. Our warmest congratulations go to the winner, runner-up finalists, and semi-finalists, and as always, our ardent appreciation to every poet who entered this year. There were far too many excellent manuscripts to mention.

Thank you all for doing the crucially important work of making poetry, of changing the weather every day, and for your evident show of support for what we do here at Tupelo Press.