Tupelo Press is especially delighted to announce that our judge, Monica Ferrell, has selected Extinction Song by John James of Louisville, Kentucky as the winner of the 2024 Snowbound Chapbook Prize! John will receive a cash award of $1,000 in addition to publication by Tupelo Press, 25 copies of the winning title, a book launch, and national distribution with energetic publicity and promotion. All manuscripts were judged anonymously. 

John James is the author of The Milk Hours (Milkweed, 2019), selected by Henri Cole for the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize, as well as two previous chapbooks, Winter, Glossolalia (Black Spring, 2022) and Chthonic (CutBank, 2015), winner of the CutBank Chapbook Prize. His poems appear in Boston Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Best American Poetry, Poem-a-Day, and elsewhere, and his work has been supported by fellowships and awards from the Bread Load Environmental Writers Conference, the Academy of American Poets, and the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice at Georgetown University. He is completing a PhD in English at the University of California, Berkeley, and teaches creative writing at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky. 

Judges Citation

Extinction Song is a beautifully sustained and unified work, a mesmerizing and devastating meditation on time and impermanence, how this world changes us and is changed by us. The individual poems probe the spaces of our habitual double-think, the inconsistencies in our logic, as we persist and give birth to a new generation on a planet whose ecological future is in continually greater peril. As John James puts it in “Lullaby,” “I linger at the end, / the edge of it. I tread / the precipice / of the abyss.”  This work gives shape to our shared experience at this particular catastrophic juncture in late-stage capitalism. Yet as much as there’s a sense of authentic urgency and emergency in these pages, Extinction Song is not overwrought or hysterical. What surprises me most about these poems is their delicate workmanship, evident in their rhythmic deftness and rich sonic textures, as well as in the attention they pay to language and formal architectures. Through their very poetics, in other words, they attend to this world, both its damages and its promises. In the marvelously specific and centering “Future Perfect,” the poet writes, “there is no Mars, no / plan B. No second-chance / planet to escape to. There is your foot /on the ground and the ground / beneath it. There is / the proof of the red / balloon.” This chapbook makes a good companion. 

–Monica Ferrell

Our sincere congratulations to John James, to our runner-up, and all of our finalists. 

Runner-up for the 2024 Snowbound Chapbook Prize

Desire & Other Flightless Birds by Marc-Anthony Valle of St. Louis, MO. 

Finalists for the 2024 Snowbound Chapbook Prize

Penguin Noir by Nicelle Davis of Lancaster, California.  

Dementia and the Wild Man by Elizabeth Kerlikowske of Kalamazoo, Michigan. 

Prayer w/o Punctuation by Alyson Kisser of Edinburgh, UK.

Pandemic Features by Peter Kline of San Francisco, California.  

The Tender Land by Glenn Shaheen of Houston, Texas. 

Ruth by Avia Tadmor of Brooklyn, New York. 

Capriccio by Julie Marie Wadeof Dania Beach, Florida.  

Medieval Sentences by Kathleen Winter of Glen Ellen, California.  

Litany of the Lithium Mine by Abigail Ardelle Zammit of Lija, Malta. 

Semi-finalists for the 2024 Snowbound Chapbook Prize 

Echoes of Uruk by Jonathan Abel of Concord, Massachusetts.  

Rotten Tomatoes by Catherine Bresner of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.  

Antibody by Elaine Kim of Walnut Creek, California.  

On a Field in the Present by David M. de Leon of Jackson Heights, New York. 

All the Signs Were There by Melanie McCabe of Falls Church, Virginia.  

(In)visible (Ir)radiance by Amy Miller of Ashland, Oregon. 

Middle Distance by Matt Miller of Exeter, New Hampshire.  

Brief World by John Pijewski of Somerville, Massachusetts.  

The Other December by Phillip Sterling of Lowell, Michigan.  

LET THERE BE LIGHT by Joanna Warwick of Chula Vista, California.

Lacunae by Matthew Weitman of Houston, Texas.  

Enormous thanks as well to our accomplished team of Preliminary Readers and our final judge, Monica Ferrell, who is the author of three books of fiction and poetry, most recently the collection You Darling Thing (Four Way, 2018), a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award and Believer Book Award in Poetry. Her novel The Answer Is Always Yes (Dial Press/Random House) was named one of Booklist’s Top Ten Debut Novels of the Year. Her first collection of poems, Beasts for the Chase, was a finalist for the Asian American Writers Workshop Prize in Poetry and won the Sarabande Books Kathryn A. Morton Prize. She has been recognized with residencies at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation and the MacDowell Colony, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, and a Discovery/The Nation Prize. She has taught fiction and poetry for the MFA Programs at Columbia University and Bennington College, and is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Purchase College (SUNY). She was born in New Delhi, India, and divides her time between Vermont and New York.

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 manuscript again, as our July Open Reading Period will open this summer. Thank you and we look forward to reading your work!