Tupelo Press is delighted to announce that Phantom Number: An Abecedarium for April by Spring Ulmer of Essex, New York has been selected by Diane Seuss to win the 2022 Tupelo Press Dorset Prize. Ulmer receives an $8,500 cash prize, a writing residency, publication by Tupelo Press, and national distribution.
Spring Ulmer is the author of Benjamin’s Spectacles (selected by Sonia Sanchez for the 2007 Kore Press First Book Award), The Age of Virtual Reproduction, and Bestiality of the Involved. She lives in upstate New York with her son.
Poem as wish for a phone that can talk to the dead. As text sent into the ether, unanswered. Elegiac alphabet book of love and heartache etched with the words of poets, philosophers, activists, and heroes, from Lucille Clifton to Birdie Africa, child survivor of the MOVE bombing, from Darnella Frazier, who videotaped the George Floyd murder, to Walter Benjamin and Zakiyyah Iman Jackson. And always the revenant and soul at the epicenter, poet, essayist, teacher, and friend April Freely, “killed by racism, age 38—,” the April of the book’s title. “April died and moths emerged / and ate up all the green— / April in a casket (skin grey)— / April’s yellow dress sways—.” April, who speaks in enjambments. April, modifier and sieve, who calls forth and transfigures history, philosophy, environmental disaster, racism, activism, motherhood, language, friendship, and loss. “I wish I knew where to put the grief. There is nothing; no gutter. Everything floods. The confusion is even nature’s own,” Spring Ulmer writes. The organizing principle, lest the lyric gush over the edge of the page, is the forward motion of the alphabet, and the adamant litanies that spring from it, sometimes epic, at other times, miniaturized. Spring Ulmer has managed to compose a voluminous collection from fragments that cohere into a fluent, many-voiced oratorio, and “the grand narrative that is myth.” Yet for all its intellectual breadth and perceptual prowess, I love this book for its intimacy. Maybe it is the truth of all lyric poetry, that in the echo of the grieved-for, we come to know the griever.
—Diane Seuss, author of frank: sonnets
Runner-Up for the Dorset Prize:
Lesley Wheeler of Lexington, Virginia. Mycocosmic.
Lesley Wheeleris the author of five previous poetry collections, including The State She’s Inand Heterotopia, winner of the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize. Her other books include the hybrid memoirPoetry’s Possible Worldsand the novelUnbecoming. Her work has received support from the Fulbright Foundation, Bread Loaf, and the Sewanee Writers Workshop, and her poems and essays appear in Poetry, Kenyon Review Online, Poets & Writers, Guernica, Massachusetts Review, Ecotone, and other magazines. She is Poetry Editor of Shenandoah.
Lesley Wheeler will receive a $1,000 honorarium, national distribution, and publication by Tupelo Press.
Toby Altman of Chicago, Illinois. Jewel Box.
Amaranth Borsuk of Bothell, Washington. W/\SH.
Joanne Diaz & Jason Reblando of Normal, Illinois. La Ruta: Walter Benjamin’s Final Passage.
C. Violet Eaton of Boise, Idaho. Cant.
Kirsten Kaschock of Baltimore, Maryland. Docenture: a tale of hue told by the estate.
Derek Mong of Vancouver, Washington. When the Earth Flies into the Sun.
Christopher Nelson of Grinnell, Iowa. The Principle of the Knot.
Stephanie Niu of Marietta, Georgia. Call It Miraculous.
Alyson Paty of Brooklyn, New York. Jalousie.
Julie Marie Wade of Dania Beach, Florida. This is Jeopardy!
Samuel Ace of Decatur, Georgia. I Was Called Back.
Carrie Olivia Adams of Chicago, Illinois. Dust Cover.
Bruce Bond of Denton, Texas. Dove of the Morning News.
Julia Bousma of New Portland, Maine. Death Florescence.
Will Brewbaker of Durham, North Carolina. Melchizedek: a poem.
Raphael Dagold of Morristown, New Jersey. Relief Effort.
Dante di Stefano of Endwell, New York. Heartland Errata.
Asa Drake of Ocala, Florida. Yonder.
Kerry James Evans of Milledgeville, Georgia. The Eventual Pomegranate.
Jean Gallaher of New York, New York. Practice.
Katherine Gibbel of Windsor, Vermont. Re the Waves.
Sarah Gridley of Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Adjusted to the Invisible.
Kelly Hoffer of Lexington, Virginia. Fire Series.
Becca Klaver of Northfield, Minnesota. Wrecking Ball.
Paco Marquez of New York, New York. In the Peripheral Background.
Katie Naughton of Buffalo, New York. The Real Ethereal.
Cate Peebles of New Orleans, Louisiana. Wreckers.
Jennifer Perrine of Portland, Oregon. Beautiful Outlaw.
Bino Realuyo of Jackson Heights, New York. #TheRebelSonnets.
BJ Soloy of Kansas City, Missouri. Birth Center in Corporate Woods.
Sophia Terazawa of Blacksburg, Virginia. Oracular Maladies and a Cure for One.
Julia Thacker of Arlington, Massachusetts. All the Flowers Are for Me.
Lindsay Webb of Salt Lake City, Utah. Plat.
We wish to congratulate Spring Ulmer, Lesley Wheeler, our distinguished finalists and semifinalists, and all who entered manuscripts in the Dorset Prize for delighting us with a stunning number of terrific submissions. By your writing, each of you joins in the solitary and so-important work of making poetry. Many, many thanks to our judge, Diane Seuss, for blessing us with the so-very-hard (and largely unsung) work of selecting a winner and runner-up, and for writing a superbly thoughtful citation.
Please bear in mind that the Berkshire Prize for a First of Second Book of Poetry is open now, judged by Diana Khoi Nguyen. See submission guidelines here.