Daniel Paul: "The Ones Without Writers"
"I think it's so bright and original. It follows its conceit in directions that were surprising to me as a reader even as the concept was immediately clear, it was agile and witty and full of life. A pretty rare energy, I think." — Alexandra Kleeman, author of Intimations and You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
FinalistsMason Boyles: "Detonating"
Debbie Graber: "The Igloo"
Toni Martin: "Reflected Light"
Kalani Pickhart: "The Gardener"
Mary Lynn Reed: "Flares"
Lacey Rowland: "The Late Wife"
Larry Smith: "Stone in the Bone"
Ben Thompson: "Hawks and Doves"
Esme-Michelle Watkins: "Even the Moon"
Irène Mathieu: "thunder's baby"
"thunder's baby" gathers energy and emotional weight from accumulation, each section ending in a new way of seeing that makes more clear what it means to live (to survive?) as a woman. The images of the poem are brilliant, and the way the poem seems to figure and think for itself is astonishing. — Jericho Brown, author of The New Testament, winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and Please, winner of the American Book Award
FinalistsKirk Schlueter: "Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body"
Yvonne Johnson: "Intersexuality"
Alexandra Barylski: "On Asking a Seven Year Old, 'Do you dare to eat a peach?'"
Malcolm Tariq: "Down Bottom" and "Malcolm Tariq's Black Bottom"
Majda Gama: "At the Border"
DeShara Suggs-Joe: "SUGARBABY 101" and "SUGARBABY 201"
Nshira Turkson: "To America"
Taneum Bambrick: Reservoir
"A stunning chaplet that weaves, through restless forms, a myriad and fleshed life of work, love, and fierce yet tender observations of the working class. I returned to the manuscript again and again, each time finding more reasons to stay. Detail by detail, through the accretion of minutiae and the infinitesimal, the book builds and garners an entire world, replete with throttled sound, image, voice, and unforgettable lives and their living. This is poetry that encompasses, that let's no one turn away." — Ocean Vuong, author of Night Sky with Exit Wounds, winner of the 2016 Whiting Award
FinalistsAlfredo Aguilar: Recuerdo
Melissa Moorer: Nobody cares what I think about the speed of light