2015 Blair Prize Results
Directors Tarfia Faizullah and Jamaal May are happy to give all the props available (and some cash of course) to the winner(s) of the 2015 David Blair Memorial Chapbook Prize, Kai Carlson-Wee and Anders Carlson-Wee, for their joint chapbook, Two-Headed Boy. This years judge was Laura Kasischke who said,
“TWO-HEADED BOY is everything a collection of poetry can be: an abundance and a dialogue and a vision. The two heads here work together seamlessly, but distinctly, with visionary fervor that is solidly linked to everything that’s the earth. The imagined and the unsaid collide head on with specifics so sensory they burn, they freeze,they illuminate, and they turn off the lights at once, leave you in a darkness where everything is at its brightest. These voices have kidnapped me. I was only two poems into this chapbook before I knew it was the poetry I’d been waiting my whole life to read.”
We had another year of absurdly good collections to choose from. We didn’t select an additional finalist for publication this year due to the timing of the contest’s end and the number of worthy manuscripts. As something of a remedy to a good problem we have here at OW!, we are adding an open reading period (dates tbd), and we will invite all finalists from the 2015 prize to submit directly with no reading fee. Thank you to the community for always supporting our paper armory and for always submitting their absolute flyest word machines. Special thanks goes to our contest judge, Laura Kasischke.
Kai Carlson-Wee and Anders Carlson-Wee
Kai Carlson-Wee has rollerbladed professionally, surfed north of the Arctic Circle, and traveled across the country by freight train. He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and his work has appeared in Narrative Magazine, Best New Poets, TriQuarterly, Crazyhorse, and The Missouri Review, which awarded him the 2013 Editor’s Prize. His photography has been featured in Narrative Magazine and his poetry film, “Riding the Highline,” (co-directed with his brother, Anders) won the special jury prize for Innovation in Documentary Short Film at the 2015 Napa Valley Film Festival. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, he lives in San Francisco and is a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University.
Anders Carlson-Wee is a 2015 NEA Creative Writing Fellow and the author of Dynamite, winner of the 2015 Frost Place Chapbook Competition (Bull City Press). With his brother Kai, he is coauthor of Mercy Songs (Diode Editions). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, New England Review, Narrative Magazine, AGNI, The Southern Review, The Missouri Review, Best New Poets, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading series. Winner of Ninth Letter’s Poetry Award and New Delta Review’s Editors’ Choice Prize, he’s received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Camargo Foundation, the Ucross Foundation, and Vanderbilt University.
Laura Kasischke has published eight collections of poetry and eight novels. She has been the recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry for her collection SPACE, IN CHAINS. She has also won the Bess Hokin prize from POETRY magazine, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and several Pushcart Prizes. Her work has been published in BEST AMERICAN POETRY, THE AMERICAN POETRY REVIEW, THE NEW REPUBLIC, and elsewhere. She teaches in the MFA Program and the Residential College at the University of Michigan.
Blair, born David Alan Blair, passed away on July 23, 2011. He was an award-winning, multi-faceted artist: singer-songwriter, poet, writer, performer, musician, community activist and teacher. Born Sept. 19, 1967, he grew up in Newton, N.J., but called Detroit his adopted home. Blair performed all over the world and has friends on almost every continent. Blair’s work and life leave an indelible impression on the Detroit community as well as all of the communities he touched.
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The 2015 David Blair Memorial Chapbook Prize will be judged by National Book Critics Circle Award winner Laura Kasischke. From the fall to the spring we will finally begin shooting several poetry videos, and the winner of this year’s Blair Prize will be among those poets whose work will be brought to life in vivid, high definition. This is in addition to publication, $300, and 30 author copies. In order to continue our mission to be a press open to the widest possible range of writers, we are once again allowing paper submissions in addition to online.
Camera shy poets fret not. The video can be produced regardless of your preferred level of participation (including none at all) or can be waved altogether if you want. The Blair Prize is open to any poet writing in English. Previously published individual poems with proper acknowledgment are acceptable as long as they haven’t all appeared together in a collected volume. Translations are not eligible, nor are previously self-published books. Employees of Ow! Arts and previous Ow! Authors are not eligible. The prize will not be screened blind but will be judged blind. This allows us to assign manuscripts to readers in a way that avoids any conflicts of interest. Since the judging is blind, standard rules apply: one cover page without name and your name must not appear in the manuscript.
- Maximum of 26 pages of poetry (title pages, dedication, etc. does not count); We do not publish prose [yet]
- Nameless cover page
- Entry Fee: $15
- Award: $300, 30 author copies, and short poetry film
- Additional orders: 50% author discount on all OW! Chapbooks
- Deadline for submissions:
November 15*Extended to November 22nd, Midnight Pacific Standard Time
- No books go to print without author approval on cover art (most select their own)
- Online submission: https://organicweaponarts.submittable.com/submit
- Paper Subs: c/o OW! Arts, P.O. Box 1220, Hamtramck, MI 48212
Past Winners and Judges
Before out chapbook prize was officially named for poet, musician, and activist David Blair, a very young Javier Zamora took the prize for Nine Immigrant Years, chosen by founder Jamaal May. Since then, Kundiman co-founder Joseph Legaspi‘s Aviary Bestiary was chosen by Vievee Francis. Most recently the 2014 Blair Prize went to a writer, performer, and community worker who is very much following in the tradition of the prize’s namesake. Michael Lee‘s collection Secondly, Finally was chosen by Natalie Diaz.
2014 Judge Bio
Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She played professional basketball in Europe and Asia before earning her MFA at Old Dominion University. Her first book, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press. She lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona, where she works with the last Elder speakers of the Mojave language to document and revitalize the Makav language at Fort Mojave. She and her Elders are building a Mojave language dictionary and encyclopedia. She is a Lannan Fellow as well as a Native Arts Council Foundation Fellow. She teaches in the Institute of American Indian Arts Low Rez MFA program.