2021 Oregon Book Award Finalists in Poetry

The 2021 Oregon Book Award winners will be announced on May 2, 2021, on a special episode of The Archive Project, airing on OPB Radio at 7:00 p.m. The hour-long show will be hosted by Omar El Akkad and Elena Passarello, and will feature readings from Oregon Book Awards winners, archival audio from previous Oregon Book Awards ceremonies, and an interview with CES Wood recipient Molly Gloss. You can watch the 2021 Oregon Book Award finalists in poetry reading, recorded April 14, on our You Tube channel:

Here are the 2021 finalists for the Stafford/Hall Award for Poetry:

Hope of Stones by Anna Elkins

In Hope of Stones, a cross-century conversation among a nun, an architect, and a poet explores the desire to see the unseen and to build the invisible.

Anna Elkins earned a BA in art and English, an MFA in poetry, and a Fulbright Fellowship to write art-inspired poetry. She has written, painted, and taught on six continents—exhibiting many paintings and publishing several books along the way. Find out more at: annaelkins.com

Raghead is an imperative, asking the reader to examine what’s at stake in a reality that places greater value on capitalist machinations of war, oil production and profit than on human life and the earth. The collection explores the intersections of power dynamics, economy, and the environment as well as memory, trauma, and expression-ability. It interrogates how these intersections create a disconnect within self/other dynamic and the land itself against a backdrop of war in petrostate Kuwait as well as the USA and the world at large.

Eman Hassan’s debut poetry collection, Raghead, was editor’s pick in the 2018 New Issues Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in Blackbird, Mizna, and Texas Poetry Review, among other journals.

Far West by Floyd Skloot

Far West entertwines the past and present with deeply felt poems that confront memory lapses and painful recollections. It explores how emotional experiences–memory and forgetting, love and loss, reverie and urgent attention–all come together in our search for coherence and self-expression.

Floyd Skloot is a poet, novelist, and creative nonfiction writer whose work has won three Pushcart Prizes, the PEN USA Literary Award, two Oregon Book Awards and two PNBA Book Awards. In 2010 Poets & Writers named him “One of 50 of the Most Inspiring Authors in the World.”

Travelers Leaving for the City by Ed Skoog

Centered around the murder of the poet’s grandfather in 1955 in a Pittsburgh hotel, Travelers Leaving for the City is a long song of arrivals and departures, yearning to understand the forces and impact of violence and hatred by trying on masks, taking off costumes, and listening for traces of ancestors in one’s own mind and body. A hymn to the violence and possibilities of the American city, voices emerge and dissolve back into urban anonymity in this polyphonic work.

Ed Skoog is the author of four books of poems, Travelers Leaving for the City, Run the Red Lights, Rough Day, and Mister Skylight, all published by Copper Canyon Press. He lives in Portland.

Thieve by Joe Wilkins

Thieve is a pointed, political book, though the politics here are local, particular, physically felt. The central sequence of poems—all subtitled “Poem against the Crumbling of the Republic”—was written in direct response to the poet’s own transition from rural poverty to coastal liberal comfort, as well as the presidential election of 2016, which brought to the national consciousness the grave division in American society between urban and rural people. Thieve,then, is a poetic attempt to speak across that chasm. 

Joe Wilkins is the author of a novel, Fall Back Down When I Die, and a memoir, The Mountain and the Fathers. He has published four poetry collections, including Thieve and When We Were Birds, winner of the 2017 Oregon Book Award in Poetry. He lives with his family in McMinnville.

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