Tupelo Press is especially delighted to announce that our judge, Diana Khoi Nguyen, has selected Jalousie by Allyson Paty of Brooklyn, New York as the winner of the 2023 Berkshire Prize for a First or Second Book of Poetry! Allyson Paty will receive a $3,000 cash prize, in addition to publication by Tupelo Press, 20 copies of the winning title, a book launch, and national distribution with energetic publicity and promotion. All manuscripts were judged anonymously.
Allyson Paty is the author of the chapbooks Five O’Clock on the Shore (above/ground press, 2019), Score Poems (Present Tense Pamphlets, 2016), and The Further Away ([sic], 2012). Recent publications include poems in Denver Quarterly’s FIVES, Poetry, The Recluce, The Yale Review, and nonfiction in The Baffler. A 2017 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Poetry and a participant in the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s 2017-2018 Workspace Program, Allyson Paty is co-founding editor of Singing Saw Press, works at NYU Gallatin, and photographs her garbage @trash_days on Instagram.
The title of this stunning collection refers to a window treatment which has rows of angled slats, like blinds or shutters, and Allyson Paty’s disarming lyric exemplifies a deliciously sharp perspective which at times ranges from being seen literally through partially-opened slats, the world at a slant, to confronting the mediations of how we tender our communications, representations of self, labor, and love. These are poems reminiscent of the cutting lines of Elaine Kahn and Elisa Gabbert, but these poems are uniquely their own.
Here, where “vision began / and ended was medias res,” Jalousie may feel like mid-stream meditations but are in fact wholistic wrestlings with what it means to live and work in today’s metropolis: subjects tackled are: technology (phones, computers), capitalism, being an object of the state, but also the leisure of “watching Blow Up” on the sofa with “Krasdale Puffed Rice with Real Cocoa” in hand. At its core, these poems explore “the condition of place / inside a body,” the body within an urban place, and also the body cognizant of contextual history.
The speaker of the poem “In Medias Res,” knows to “shut [their] eyes / to receive,” which is to say, to listen to one’s surroundings in order to catch details the eye often misses. Allyson Paty understands that “to see / is to have at a distance // what populates vision” and the “distance” in their case is a view filtered as if through shutters–hidden, protected, but because there is “not quite so much sun,” is able to receive much more of scene. And by the final line in this fine collection, the poet shares what we’ve been privy to all along, that is, that they do, quite radiantly, “resolve the view, unstriped and entire.”
-Diana Khoi Nguyen
Our sincere congratulations to Allyson Paty, and to all of our finalists and semifinalists.
Finalists for the 2023 Berkshire Prize
Will Brewbaker of Durham, North Carolina. Melchizedek.
Stephen Danos of Portland, Oregon. Crowd Noise.
Anita Oliva Koester of Fort Worth, Texas. Atlas of Grief.
Christine Kwon of New Orleans, Louisiana. Broadmare.
Leigh Lucas of San Francisco, California. Splashed Things.
Jeffrey Pethybridge of Denver, Colorado. Force Drift: An Essay in the Epic.
Austin Segrest of Appleton, Wisconsin. Groom.
BJ Soloy of Kansas City, Missouri. Birth Center in the Corporate Woods.
Greg Wrenn of Harrisonburg, Virginia. Homesick.
Semifinalists for the 2023 Berkshire Prize
Tamar Ashdot of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Subway Psalms.
Mike Burwell of Arroyo Seco, New Mexico. Coin on My Tongue.
Ansley Clark of Bremerton, Washington. Bloodline.
John de Stefano of New York, New York. The Visible Remains.
Diana Lee of Longmont, Colorado. Dramedy.
Sara Ryan of Lubbock, Texas. Verge.
Megan Shevenock of Los Angeles, California. What Is Simple.
Franke Varca of Atlanta, Georgia. Chill & Stupor.
Connor Watkins-Xu of Seattle, Washington. Missing You.
Madison Whatley of Boca Raton, Florida. Hotline Bimbo.
A.R. Zarif of Oak Brook, Illinois. A Question About Wasps.
Enormous thanks as well to our terrific readers and judge, Diana Khoi Nguyen.
Poet and multimedia artist Diana Khoi Nguyen was born and raised in California. She earned a BA in English and Communication Studies from UCLA, an MFA from Columbia University, and a PhD from the University of Denver. She is the author of the chaplet Unless (Belladonna*, 2019) and debut poetry collection, Ghost Of (Omnidawn Publishing, 2018). Her forthcoming second collection of poems will be published by Scribner in 2024.
Ghost Of was selected by Terrance Hayes for the Omnidawn Open Contest, and was a finalist for the National Book Award and L.A. Times Book Prize. It received the 2019 Kate Tufts Discovery Award and Colorado Book Award. Her poetry and prose have appeared widely in magazines and journals such as Poetry, American Poetry Review, and PEN America.
A Kundiman fellow and member of the Vietnamese diasporic artist collective, She Who Has No Master(s), Nguyen’s other honors include awards from the 92Y “Discovery” Poetry Contest, Key West Literary Seminars, and Academy of American Poets. She has held scholarships and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. In Spring 2022, she was an artist-in-residence at Brown University.
Currently, she teaches creative writing at Randolph College Low-Residency MFA and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh.
Our heart-felt gratitude goes out to all who sent us your manuscripts and who, by your writing, link arms in the tireless, solitary, and so-important work of making poetry. So many more manuscripts than we can mention here gave us countless hours of reading pleasure.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we hope you will consider letting us see your full-length manuscript again, as our annual July Open Reading Period is currently extended until August 15th. Thank you and we look forward to reading your work!