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Devon Walker-Figueroa Wins 2020 National Poetry Series

Milkweed Staff — 10/14/2020

We are thrilled to announce that Devon Walker-Figueroa has been named one of five winners of the National Poetry Series for 2020. Her manuscript Philomath was selected by Milkweed poet Sally Keith and will be published in September 2021. In addition to publication, Walker-Figueroa will receive $10,000.

Devon Walker-Figueroa is a writer, editor, and erstwhile professional ballet dancer who grew up in Kings Valley (a ghost town in the Oregon Coast Range). A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the 2018 recipient of New England Review’s Emerging Writer Award, Walker-Figueroa has published poems in such journals as the American Poetry Review, The Nation, POETRY, Lana Turner, The Harvard Advocate, Ploughshares, and the New England Review. Devon is currently enrolled in NYU’s fiction MFA, teaches writing courses at Saint Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, and serves as the co-founding editor of Horsethief Books.

Keith—author of four collections, most recently River House—describes Philomath as follows:

“I couldn’t be more delighted than to have found Devon Walker-Figueroa’s Philomath. Philomath is a place, a small town in King’s Valley, Oregon. Here, the neighbor eats locusts and every daughter is blonde. If one of the book’s motives is ’Find[ing] a way out of this valley named for a family so dead/ everyone calls them Kings,’ the means is music. There is a harp, a violin, Gregorian chants, and hymns, but what drew me in was the music of the sentence, of the poetic line. One truly senses a poet trying to hear the world around her, in all of its trouble, complexity and joy. If whatever it means ’to become’ has a sound, Devon Walker-Figueroa can hear it, ’the way a blood’s fever can outlast the mind’s.’ I’m humbled by the work and look forward to holding the book in my hands.”

Previous winners published by Milkweed Editions include Thrown in the Throat by Benjamin Garcia, selected by Kazim Ali; Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers by Jake Skeets, selected by Kathy Fagan; feeld by Jos Charles, selected by Fady Joudah; I Know Your Kind by William Brewer, selected by Ada Limón; Not on the Last Day, but on the Very Last by Justing Boening, selected by Wayne Miller; Double Jinx by Nancy Reddy, selected by Alex Lemon; Bone Map by Sara Eliza Johnson, selected by Martha Collins; and Visiting Hours at the Color Line by Ed Pavlić, selected by Dan Beachy-Quick. See all previous winners and books here.

Learn more the National Poetry Series and other prize opportunities here.