K. Avvirin Berlin wins the Wells College Press 2024 Chapbook Contest

April 8, 2024

Avvirin Author Photo

Wells College Press is very pleased to announce that the winner of our 2024 Chapbook Contest is K. Avvirin Berlin for her manuscript, Obsidian. Her prize includes digital publication of her chapbook, plus 10 copies of an artist-designed, hand-sewn physical chapbook, which will be published in a limited edition of 50. She will also read at Wells College in Aurora, NY and receive a $1,000 honorarium plus room and board. In the tradition of the Wells College Press, her chapbook will be crafted obsessively, with a design that responds directly to the poems themselves.

K. Avvirin Berlin’s debut poetry collection, Leda’s Daughters, won the 2023 Jean Feldman Poetry Award from Washington Writers’ Publishing House and was published in October 2023. Her poems have been published in The Iowa Review, The Georgia Review, Boston Review online, Women’s Studies Quarterly, and Beloit Poetry Journal. Her scholarship on Sojourner Truth and Black feminism was published in the September 2023 issue of Nineteenth-Century Literature; reviews have appeared in Women’s Review of Books. She is an Assistant Professor of English and lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with her husband and their two cats. More at her website: www.avvirin.com.

This year’s finalists are:
Twenty-Four Covers of a House on Fire by Christopher Smith
De/Generation: A Vision Quest by Gail Griffin
24 Frames by Eric Pankey
Duties: New Minister of Loneliness by Beth Dufford
Delta by Michael Prior

This year’s semifinalists are:
My Martyr / My Mother by BE Thompson
Doctor of the World by Fleda Brown
A/Sunder by Sandra Fees
Miss Expanding Universe by Morgan Eklund
How Prey Thinks by Erica Reid

The readers and final judge were overwhelmed by the beautiful range and ambition of submissions this year, as well as the sheer volume. Ultimately, Berlin’s Obsidian won us over with its impressive field of allusions and references, deep historical and personal engagement, and commitment to the potentials of language to wake us. One reader responded by praising its “roving engagement with feminism, race, icons and touchpoints in history, art, and myth” and another celebrated the attention to “rich, musical sound” that shaped the poems. The contest judge, Dan Rosenberg, singled out this collection for its expansive sense of self, its ability to lay claim to inheritances from multiple traditions and speak with one complex voice to the present and the past.

We would like to thank everyone who submitted, and to express our regret that we can’t publish more than one of the many worthy collections we considered this year.

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