News / Awards & Prizes

Chris Santiago Wins 2016 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry

Milkweed Staff — 04/29/2016
Chris Santiago

We are pleased to announce that Chris Santiago is the winner of the 2016 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry. For his manuscript, Tula, chosen from nearly two hundred collections from poets across the Upper Midwest, Santiago will receive $10,000 as well as publication by Milkweed Editions.

A first-generation Filipino American, Chris Santiago is fascinated by the familiarity and mystique of language. “When I hear someone speak Tagalog, I recognize it immediately, but don’t know what they are saying,” said Santiago. “This feeling—of being outside the language, but having it also be a kind of homeland—is where Tula began.” After becoming a father to two boys, Santiago began to explore place, home, masculinity, and immigration in his poetry. “It became as much about the voice, and how language is inscribed in us by the voices of parents, as it was about a mythic homeland.”

Santiago is the fifth recipient of this annual prize, and Daniel Slager, Publisher and CEO of Milkweed Editions, reflected on its importance to our region: “The fifth annual Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry contest was exceptionally competitive. We received 195 submissions from across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and the Dakotas. Selecting six finalists for our judge, A. Van Jordan, to consider was challenging, as the quality of the submissions was also exceptional. Truly, our region is alive with poetry!”

A. Van Jordan—acclaimed poet and judge of the 2016 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry—described Santiago’s manuscript as follows:

“In a hypnotic blend of languages and land, Tula captures the voice of a world we are happy to inhabit. The lines are taut and spare; the scope is both intimate and communal. What surprises me most is the ability to move seamlessly between the exterior world to the depths of the interiority of these speakers. It’s not so much that the language here is new as that the message is so urgently original. Or, as the poet puts it, ‘No stroke or syllable has ever been made to mean’ more. There’s a celebration of silence involved in these poems, but, even more so, there’s the love of making connections beyond what one says. Reading these poems feels as if, ‘A door opens and your name / is called & all at once you aren’t cut off / from the rest of the world anymore: you are / the rest of the world.’”

Tula will be published in December, and a public reading to celebrate the book will be held in early November.


ABOUT CHRIS SANTIAGO | Chris Santiago’s poems, short stories, and criticism have appeared in FIELD, Pleiades, the Asian American Literary Review, and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from Kundiman and the Mellon Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies, and nominations for Best New Poets and others. Born and raised in the Twin Cities, he received his PhD in the literature and creative writing program at the University of Southern California and is an assistant professor in the English department at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

ABOUT THE JUDGE | A. Van Jordan is the author of four collections of poems: Rise (2001),M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A (2004), Quantum Lyrics (2007), and The Cineaste (2013). Jordan has received a Whiting Writers Award, an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, a United States Artists Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and, most recently, the 2015 Lannan Literary Award for Poetry. He is the Henry Rutgers Presidential Professor at Rutgers University-Newark.

ABOUT THE PRIZE | The Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry is an annual regional prize, presented in partnership by Milkweed Editions and the Lindquist & Vennum Foundation. Established in 2011, the prize seeks to support outstanding poets residing in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota and bring their work to a national stage. The prize awards $10,000 and a contract for publication to the author of the winning manuscript. Unique among contests both in the size of its purse and its geographical focus, the prize was founded to shine a light on a region rich with poetic heritage, but sometimes overlooked in contemporary conversation.

Milkweed Editions is one of the nation’s leading independent publishers, with a mission to identify, nurture, and publish transformative literature, and build an engaged community around it.

The Lindquist & Vennum Foundation was established by the Minneapolis-headquartered law firm of Lindquist & Vennum, LLP, and is a donor-advised fund of The Minneapolis Foundation.