Tupelo Press is delighted to announce that we will publish four manuscripts submitted to us throughout this year’s July Open Reading Period.

The editors are grateful to have read (and reread) more than 1,400 July Open manuscripts that came to us, not only in record numbers, but in record quality—arriving at our doorstep from throughout the United States, and from every continent save the Arctics.

We also wish to honor a list of manuscripts that we found so very deserving, and have referred to as Other Manuscripts of Extraordinary Merit.

Please read on for those names. Final selections were made by Kristina Marie Darling, Editor-in-Chief, Cassandra Cleghorn, Poetry Editor, and Jeffrey Levine, Artistic Director. Each of the selected poets will receive a $1,000 advance, as well as publication, publicity and distribution by Tupelo Press.

We are proud and honored to select for publication the following four manuscripts:

  • Tips to Help You Do Your Best, submitted by Mike Carlson of New York, New York.
  • Daphne, submittedby Kristen Case of Farmington, Maine.  
  • Nebulous Vertigo, submittedby Belle Ling of Hong Kong, HK.  
  • Force Drift:  An Essay in the Epic, submitted by Jeffrey Pethybridge of Denver, Colorado. 

About Our Four Selected Authors:

Mike Carlson is the author of Cement Guitar, which won the Juniper Prize and was published by the University of Massachusetts Press. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Antioch Review, The Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, New Letters, Seneca Review, Spillway, and others. He is a teacher at P.S. 107 in Brooklyn, New York where he lives with his wife and daughter.

The editors of Tupelo Press write in response to Mike Carlson’s Tips to Help You Do Your Best:  

The literary landscape is filled with poetry that deploys strangeness as novelty and nothing more. With that in mind, it is truly rare to read poems that use this defamiliarizing impulse to access complex emotional and philosophical truths.  In Tips to Help You Do Your Best, Mike Carson accomplishes all of this with remarkable ease.  Like Noah Falck’s Exclusions or Keith Waldrop’s Several Gravities, Carlson’s work renders the quotidian suddenly and startlingly strange, prompting us to ask necessary questions about mortality, the nature of human connection, and the senses. “Dying people need bicycles to assemble in darkness, / or jobs writing instructions for self-pulling lawnmowers,” he explains.  By decentering what is familiar, Carlson renders us disconcertingly aware of the expectation we all carry in hearts:  that the world around  us will simply continue in the way that we are accustomed to.  Carlson’s ability to confront, examine, and interrogate this readerly expectation makes for a collection as philosophically rich as it is technically accomplished.  “The power that we had came / from disagreeing with each other,” he writes, as though reflecting on his own poetics.  This is a luminous and rewarding book.   

Kristen Case’s first poetry collection, Little Arias was published by New Issues Press in 2015. Her second collection, Principles of Economics, published by Switchback Books, won the 2018 Gatewood Prize. She is the recipient of the Maine Literary Award in Poetry (2016 and 2020), a MacDowell Fellowship, and the University of Maine Farmington Trustee Professorship.

Her scholarly book Keeping Time: Henry David Thoreaus Kalendar is forthcoming from Milkweed editions. She is also the author of many academic articles and co-editor of several volumes, most recently William James and Literary Studies, forthcoming from Cambridge UP, and the Oxford Handbook of Henry David Thoreau, forthcoming from Oxford UP. She lives in Farmington Maine.

In response to Kristen Case’s Daphne, the editors of Tupelo Press write:  

Kristen Case’s Daphne explores the relationship between predation and the lyric, particularly within the Western canon.  But to say that Case merely offers a provocative and conceptually arresting artistic intervention would be to greatly underestimate her powers as a writer.  Case elaborates, “The story goes like this:  a girl/woman is chased after and lost.  She becomes a lost thing.  The man becomes a poet.”  As Case unearths the gender politics and power structures of the literary tradition she inhabits, she does not merely critique or gesture at problems, but instead, works toward more just and equitable forms of discourse.  By challenging the boundaries between literary criticism, prose poetry, hybrid forms, manifesto, and the lyric, Case ultimately works within received literary forms to expand what is possible within them.  “How you may forfeit your own mind, may stand seized of it, by poison, or by illness or by any man, by words,” she warns. And in turn, the responds with a powerful decolonization of the imagination.  

Belle Ling was born and raised in Hong Kong. Her poems have won numerous international awards, including the Playa Residency’s Fellowship in Oregon (2014), the UK’s Oxford Brooks International Poetry Competition (2016); the New York State Summer Writers Institute Scholarship (2017); the Hong Kong’s International Proverse Poetry Prize Anthology Place Award (2018); and finalist in The Atlanta Review’s International Publication Prize (2019). She was also a co-winner of the Australian Book Review’s prestigious Peter Porter Poetry Prize (2018). Her poetry manuscript, Grass Flower Head, was shortlisted for the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize and The Puncher & Wattmann Prize for a First Book of Poetry. She has been an invited author at the Brisbane Writers Festival; the Hong Kong International Literary Festival; the Goethe-Institut Hongkong; the New York’s Mongrel Writers Residence; and the Chinese Diaspora Poetry Festival in the UK. She has also appeared on ABC and SBS radio in Australia. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from The University of Queensland and a Master of Creative Writing from The University of Sydney. She is now teaching at The University of Hong Kong.

The editors of Tupelo Press write in response to Belle Ling’s Nebulous Vertigo:  

It has been said that the true frontier in poetry is not finding new ways to honor tradition, nor is it discovering more ways to dismantle and challenge our shared artistic inheritance.  Rather, the truly necessary work is carving a space for innovation, conceptual play, and experimentation within familiar literary forms.  Belle Ling’s Nebulous Vertigo achieves all of this with subtlety and grace. “You can’t flee / I, the intriguing I—even though / as I breathe I nearly hit you—” she writes in pristine couplets.  Yet at the same time, she reflects on the circumstances of the poems’ making with refreshing self-awareness and undeniable wit. Indeed, Ling forges a poetics of alterity, of otherness, from within the strictures of a tradition build on acts of exclusion.  “I’m multiplied like window grids as torn apart by the fingers of rains,” she explains.  Ling reveals—and interrogates—the relationship between language and gender, and between language and culture, with stylistic agility and technical ease.  While the forms employed within this collection range from couplets to the lyric, found forms and templates not germane to poetry, Ling’s capacious debut is marked by a formidable unity of voice and vision.  Brava!  

Jeffrey Pethybridge is a poet, editor, curator, and sound artist; he is the author of Striven, The Bright Treatise (Noemi Press 2013), which was selected as one of ten best debuts of 2013 by Poets & Writers. His work appears internationally in journals such as diSonare (MX); White Wall Review (CA); Writing Utopia (UK); the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day; Chicago Review, Volt, Best American Experimental Writing, Manifold Criticism; The Iowa Review, New American Writing and others. 

He teaches in the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University where he is Director of the Summer Writing Program. In 2024 he’ll serve as the curator of Enclave, a transdisciplinary poetry festival held in Mexico City each year.

He lives in so-called Denver with the poet Carolina Ebeid, and their son Patrick; together they edit the online zine Visible Binary.

In response to Force Drift:  An Essay in the Epic by Jeffrey Pethybridge, the editors of Tupelo Press write:

In Force Drift:  An Essay in the Epic, Jeffrey Pethybridge expertly frames the page as canvas, as visual field, and the poem as a space for collision and intertextuality.  Here, ambitious conceptual work inevitably becomes performative, becomes visceral, as large-scale political critique is dramatized through the behavior of the language itself.  “This is a story of guilt and failure.  // This is the story of a radical ethic // a momentary utopia…” Pethybridge writes in lines that rupture and move across the page.  Of course, the work is visually striking, even arresting, in much the same way as Jose Felipe Alvergue’s Precis or Henk Rossouw’s Xamissa.  Yet what distinguishes Force Drift:  An Essay in the Epic is that Pethybridge understands rhetoric and argument as inherently embodied, and the documentary impulse in poetry as inextricable from the senses.  “The body turned instrument of infliction,” Pethybridge writes, “gold, gold, weapon-grade bronze–––ritual for the body alchemical, and yet.” Through his visceral and vividly rendered approach to literary assemblage, Pethybridge ultimately reveals our smallest choices in language as politically charged. This is an extraordinary book.  

A short message from the Editors:

We would also like to honor other manuscripts of extraordinary merit, but before we do, we wish to acknowledge we are all human, we writers, and so very tender when it comes to announcements like this. We tend (of course) to believe that not getting selected equals “rejection.” Not so. We fall in love with so many of the manuscripts we read (both full-length and chapbooks), many of which we would publish if we had the time and money, and we learn so much by reading all of the submissions. This is why it’s so important for you, as poets, to keep your work in front of us as well as other publishers you admire. 

Please keep in mind that our Helena Whitehill Book Award (Jane Wong, final judge) is currently open to submissions until October 31st, 2023 at 11:59 PM ET.  Our Dorset Prize (Shane McCrae, final judge) is also currently open to submission through December 31st. We encourage you to let us see your work again.  

Here now, a list of other Manuscripts of Extraordinary Merit:

Deborah Bernhardt, Decohere

Amaranth Borsuk, WASH

Flower Conroy, Zoodike: A Bestiary

Nicelle Davis, Ars / Ours 

Joanne Diaz, La Ruta:  Walter Benjamin’s Final Passage

Sandra Doller, Not Now Now

Jean Gallagher, Rivermouth Shouting

Luisa Igloria, The Wound Makes Bearable What Comes After

Kirsten Kaschock, Docenture   

Matthew Klane, The 19th Century  

Dorothy Lune, Black Honey

Diane Martin, Tongue & Groove

Michelle Moncayo, A Year in Red

Susan McCabe, I Woke A Lake

Christopher Nelson, Fugitive 

Bianca Perez, Blessed Be the One Who Cries Wax

Vivian Faith Prescott, The Divination of Salmon

Ruben Quesada, Brutal Companion 

David Roderick, Darkness for Beginners

Martha Ronk, At the Nearshore

Brooke Sahni, In this Distance

John Surowiecki, Kowarski Agonistes

Felicia Zamora, Murmuration Archives 

Congratulations to all of the poets whose exciting work gave us so many, many hours of pleasurable reading, not only those poets cited above, but all who submitted manuscript to our July Open Reading Period. We hope to see your work again!


The Editors