Congratulations Irina Popescu and Mary Mussman! Irina won the Samuel C. Irving Prize for American Wit and Humor and came in 2nd place for the Lili Fabilli and Eric Hoffer Essay prize, while Mary won the Emily Chamberlain Cook Prize.
Judge’s comments on Irina Popescu’s “From NAMUH to GOD” (Irving Prize):
“‘From NAMUH to GOD'” is a humorous poem that poses the question, in a fresh and witty manner: did we domesticate dogs or did they domesticate us? The narrator aspires to be a pit-bull: ‘They got a bad rap, but I’d be the coolest pit-bull around. / I’d lay on your lap and run marathons with you. / I’d have a black patch on one eye like a pirate. / I’d have a cute snore that you would record and put on Youtube.'”
Judge’s comments on Mary Mussman’s “Greek Poetry Composition”:
“‘Greek Poetry Composition,’ dedicated to Max Ritvo, a Los Angeles poet who died of cancer in 2016 at the age of 25, is a complex and often startling poem. It is an elegy for Ritvo wrapped inside of a framing conceit, within which is gathered several brief narratives about love, learning, sex, and death. I especially admire the poet’s ability to shift and bend registers, and the poem moves from the matter-of-fact quasi-academic style of the opening stanzas to an anecdotal register about halfway before intertwining several registers within the poem’s powerful final stanzas. This poem is intellectually ambitious, describing not only the process of reading ancient Greek – working one’s way through ‘the salt flats of ancient text’ – but also speculating on what we might call the poetics of astrophysics.”