Writers

2020 Stafford/Hall Award for Poetry Finalists

The following books are finalists for the 2020 Oregon Book Award in Poetry. Each year, this program honors the state’s finest accomplishments by Oregon writers who work in genres of poetry, fiction, graphic literature, drama, literary nonfiction, and literature for young readers. We will not be hosting our 33rd Annual Oregon Book Awards Ceremony at Portland Center Stage at the Armory on June 22. However, we are excited to announce that the Oregon Book Awards will take place in a different format.

Please join us for:

“The 2020 Oregon Book Awards” 
a special from Literary Arts: The Archive Project

Monday, June 22, 2020
7:00 to 7:30 p.m.OPB Radio
 (where to listen)

All of the finalists books are available to order from Broadway Books


Carl Adamshick of Portland, Birches (Four Way Books)

Adamshick’s spare poems recount a son’s unsentimental and powerful love for his mother, while contemplating, in the wake of her death, what it is to be truly alive.

Carl Adamshick published works include Birches, Curses and Wishes, recipient of the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, Saint Friend, and Receipt.

“Many of Adamshick’s lines seem to hang suspended, as if the poet were chiseling them into the air.” —Judge Nick Flynn

Shaindel Beers of Pendleton, Secure Your Own Mask (White Pine Press)

Secure Your Own Mask is a story of survival—of the way the world destroys us and how we can rebuild ourselves.

Shaindel Beers is the author of three full-length poetry collections. She teaches at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, where she lives with her son Liam, her husband Matt, and a wealth of pets. She is also the Poetry Editor of Contrary Magazine.

“A searing investigation of domestic abuse from the viewpoint of both parties, with a bird ’s eye always trained on the many-pronged ways that love, intimidation, fear, and desire are intimately knotted in a controlling union; Secure Your Own Mask is literally triumphant.” —Judge Marcus Wicker

Lynn Otto of Newberg, Real Daughter (Unicorn Press)

The poems in Real Daughter, winner of a Unicorn Press First Book Award, have been described as “bracing meditations on matriarchal inheritance and the nature of the real . . . break[ing] open pervasive, inherited silences.” They offer “a lucent exploration of familial love and its entanglements, and of the challenges of being a self among others.”

Lynn Otto works as a freelance academic copy editor in Newberg, where she lives with her spouse and one of their adult children. She received the Excellence Fellowship in Poetry during her MFA studies at Portland State University, and an associate residency at the National Humanities Center in 2015/16.

“Otto reminds me that sometimes it’s hard to be oneself, especially when your loved ones are always lurking—around the corner, on your shoulder, in the back of your mind with a magnifying glass; Otto has harnessed an elegant clarity that is emotionally complex and altogether compelling.” —Judge Marcus Wicker

Allan Peterson of Ashland, This Luminous (Panhandler Books)

This Luminous features selected poems from prize winning books and chapbooks covering some thirty years of writing.

Allan Peterson’s six books include: Precarious; All the Lavish in Common
( Juniper Prize); and Fragile Acts, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle and Oregon Book Awards. He has received fellowships from the NEA and the State of Florida. His next book is forthcoming from Salmon Press, Ireland.

“Peterson offers us poems that feels both inevitable and fresh. There is a timelessness to these poems, not in subject matter or diction, but in the way the poet’s mind moves across each page.”
Judge Nick Flynn

Ashley Toliver of Portland, Spectra (Coffee House Press)

Spectra explores the nature of selfhood and the limitations of the body through scenes of domesticity and medical trauma toward a world transfigured by the tenderness borne from loss.

Ashley Toliver is the author of Spectra, winner of the 2018 Poetry Center Book Award, and finalist for the 2018 Believer Book Award and 2020 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. She teaches poetry at the The Attic Institute in southeast Portland and serves as poetry editor at Moss: A Journal of the Pacific Northwest.

“To read Ashley Toliver’s Spectra is to be possessed by the poet’s explorations of erotic, transgressive, and otherworldly hybrids. If I were headed to the underworld to witness the (un)making of woman, Toliver would be my Virgil of choice.” —Judge Megan Fernandes