Awards & Prizes

Sarah V. Schweig Wins the Eighth Annual Jake Adam York Prize

Milkweed Staff — 02/23/2024


Copper Nickel and Milkweed Editions are thrilled to announce that judge Cynthia Cruz has chosen Sarah V. Schweig’s collection of poems, The Ocean in the Next Room, as the winner of the 2023–24 Jake Adam York Prize. The Ocean in the Next Room will be published by Milkweed Editions in January 2025, and Schweig will receive $2,000.

Sarah V. Schweig’s first book, Take Nothing with You, was published by the University of Iowa Press in 2016. Her poetry has appeared in Boston Review, Granta, Tin House, and the Yale Review, among others, and her critical essays have appeared at Public Seminar, Tourniquet Review, and elsewhere. She works as an editor, is pursuing a PhD in Philosophy at the New School for Social Research, and lives in Maine with her husband and son.

In choosing Schweig’s book, Cruz says: “This extraordinary collection of poems does that strange thing Hegel tells us all great art does: in his lectures on aesthetics Hegel tells us that art makes appear the structures that would otherwise remain invisible to us. Through a series of interconnected pieces this collection works through and brings to light the complexities of life lived in the twenty-first century.”

There were 784 manuscripts submitted to the prize this year, which our screeners narrowed to 15 additional finalists and seven semifinalists. It’s our opinion that every one of these manuscripts is outstanding and eminently publishable. With that in mind, the finalists were:

Rennie Ament, World of Worlds

Dorsey Craft, A Brief History of Accidental Inventions

Javeria Hasnain, I Only Came to See God

Anna Farro Henderson, A Lover’s Field Guide to Italy

L. A. Johnson, Irradiance

Jasmine Khaliq, Somewhere Horses

Molly Ledbetter, Air Ball

Zach Linge, Everything Everything

Oksana Maksymchuk, Tongue Ties

Meghann Plunkett, What We Did to Her Made the Water Rise

Edward Salem, Intifadas

Samyak Shertok, No Rhododendron

Avia Tadmore, In the Tongue I Was Born To

Chris Watkins, The Drag Gospel of Queer Jesus

Tianyu Yi, Mercy’s the Clock Ticking Backwards from God

The semifinalists were:

Rhoni Blankenhorn, Rooms for the Dead and the Not Yet

Stephanie Feeney, Small Change

Hannah Hirsch, Chaos Theory

Laura Joyce-Hubbard, Over the Half-Bright World

Whitney Koo, Any Gesture

Iris Law, The Color of Morning

Hannah Smith, Common Prairie

And since screeners do essential—if too often unsung—evaluative work narrowing the field of entrants, we think it’s important to note each year who our screeners are (both to say thank you and in the interest of transparency). This year’s screeners were:

William Archila, author of The Gravedigger’s Archaeology

Nicky Beer, author of Real Phonies and Genuine Fakes
Emily Bludworth de Barrios, author of Shopping, or The End of Time

Meg Day, author of Last Psalm at Sea Level

Chanda Feldman, author of Approaching the Fields

Vandana Khana, author of Burning Like Her Own Planet

L. S. Klatt, author of The Wilderness After Which

Christopher Brean Murray, author of Black Observatory

Finally, we want to mention something briefly about our process: Since a number of entrants had previously published in Copper Nickel, and since other entrants knew one or more of our screeners on a personal level, we were sure to pass the manuscripts among the screeners until no one was tasked with screening work by anyone she had published or with whom she had a personal relationship. We believe strongly in running an ethical contest, and we work hard to ensure that we continue to do so.