Patricia Kirkpatrick Wins Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry

by Will Wlizlo
on

We’re thrilled to announce that Patricia Kirkpatrick has won the first annual Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry. The award includes $10,000 and publication of the submitted collection with Milkweed Editions. Kirkpatrick’s winning manuscript, Odessa, will be published in December.

A grim prognosis, brain cancer, leaves the speaker in Odessa fighting for her life. The tumor presses against her amygdalae, the “emotional core of the self,” and central to the process of memory. In poems endowed with this emotional charge but void of sentimentality, Kirkpatrick sets out to recreate what was lost by fashioning a dreamlike reality. Odessa, “roof of the underworld,” a refuge at once real and imagined, resembles simultaneously the Midwestern prairie and a mythical god-inhabited city. In image-packed lines bearing shades of Classical heroism, Kirkpatrick delivers a personal narrative of stunning dimension.

“The emotional power of Kirkpatrick’s poetic narrative corresponds here with her mastery of craft,” writes the Lindquist & Vennum Prize’s independent judge Peter Campion. “In nervy sentences and phrases, in sinuous and firm lines, all of which show the imprint of a deeply lived experience, this poet proves Robert Frost’s claim, ‘No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.’”

Kirkpatrick’s ongoing work in poetry embodies the spirit of the Lindquist & Vennum prize: language with universal reach and a Midwestern heart. She is the poetry editor of Water~Stone Review in Saint Paul, MN, and works as a freelance editor. Additionally, she’s the author of Century’s Road—out on Holy Cow! Press in 2004—as well as several books for young readers and chapbooks of poetry. Three of her poems were recently featured in the centenary issue of Poetry. Even with such a resumé, Kirkpatrick was up against tough, passionate competition.

Of nearly 175 contestants, five finalists were selected by the editors at Milkweed and the winner chosen by Campion. This year’s other finalists were Sean Hill of Bemidji, MN, Sarah Crossland of Madison, WI, Lee Ann Roripaugh of Vermillion, SD, and Chad Parmenter of Decorah, IA. Expect to hear more from these gifted poets on the Milkweed blog in the near future.

The Milkweed Editions poetry subscription currently includes Odessa, as well as three other exciting, soon-to-be-published collections.

Image by Katharine Klein Sawyer.

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