Established in 1923
The Poetry Society of Virginia
CELEBRATING THE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE OF VIRGINIA POETRY
In 1923, a group of poets met in at the College of William and Mary and founded an organization they named The Poetry Society of Virginia. Since then, the PSOV has worked to advance the cause and appreciation of poetry throughout Virginia. The Society stages annual contests, holds local and regional events, publishes an anthology of prize-winning poems, and is instrumental in assisting the Governor of Virginia with the selection of Poet Laureate.
The PSV is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, and fostering mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all individuals and groups. We are committed to fostering a supportive community that offers motivation, encouragement, and educational opportunities aimed at creating equity and a sense of belonging in Virginia’s poetry community.
Poet Laureate of Virginia
First Virginia Youth Poet Laureate
2023 POETRY BOOK AWARD FOR NORTH
AMERICAN WRITERS & PUBLISHERS
The Poetry Society of Virginia congratulates Pauletta Hansel,
Winner of the 2023 PSV North American Poetry Book Award
Heartbreak Tree (Madville Publishing, 2022)
Bill Glose, PSV North American Poetry Book Award final judge, praised Pauletta Hansel’s winning collection as follows:
“Even before we open this book, the title warns what lies within will be bittersweet, its Heartbreak Tree rooted in ground seeded with regret and unfulfilled desires (When hurt is all that’s handed down / you learn to claim it). Yet, these poems also luxuriate in the comforts and personal connections that only home can offer, “the unseen river that silvers / through our dreams.”
The early poems serve as a captivating reminiscence that transports the reader to hardscrabble life in rural Kentucky (What people in town remember about my family’s home / was the dirt in the fenced front yard where no grass / could stay grown). But as the book progresses, the poems settle into middle-aged reckoning and acceptance, often told via letters the author writes to her 15-year-old self (If we are skin, you are peeled bark of sycamore long gone from / me. If we are bone, you are always mine).
Pauletta Hansel delivers a rust-edged nostalgia that portrays both a life of wistful yearnings and an acceptance of limitations, an ever-present dichotomy that leaves her examining most things from multiple angles (What moves us onward is the same, / sometimes, as what breaks us to the ground). The skill with which she traverses this seeming contradiction makes this captivating collection a must read.”
Pauletta Hansel, poet, memoirist, teacher, is the author of nine poetry collections including her winning book Heartbreak Tree, released in March 2022 by Madville Publishing. She was the 2022 Writer-in-Residence for the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library and served as the first Poet Laureate of Cincinnati, 2016-2018. Pauletta also served as Writer-in-Residence at Thomas More College’s Creative Writing Vision Program and at WordPlay, a literary and literacy organization for young writers.
Pauletta’s poetry collections include Friend, Coal Town Photograph, Tangle, and Palindrome, issued by Dos Madres Press. Palindrome was awarded the Weatherford Award for the Best Appalachian Poetry Book of 2017. Her poetry and prose have been featured in numerous journals and anthologies, among them Oxford American, One (Jacar Press), New Verse News, Rattle, Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Northern Appalachian Review, Heartwood Literary Magazine, Main Street Rag, Atlanta Review, A Gathering at the Forks; Old Wounds, New Words; A Kentucky Christmas; and Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia. Her poems also have appeared on The Writer’s Almanac, Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry, and Verse Daily.
Pauletta received her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte (North Carolina). Originally from southeastern Kentucky, with family roots in southwestern Virginia, she lives in Cincinnati with her husband, Owen Cramer.
Bill Glose also selected the following books as First and Second Finalists:
Since the House is Burning by Suzanne Edison (MoonPath Press)
“Beautiful, evocative, mournful, Suzanne Edison’s poetry plumbs the depths of personal grief. In verse that often plays with form on the page, where much can be inferred from the white space between words, these poems stretch beyond their lines and entice readers to return for a second reading to glean deeper meanings.”
The Mayapple Forest by Kim Ports Parson (Terrapin Books)
“These plain-spoken poems present a love song to life and all its daily miracles, often reveling in the splendor of the natural world. There are lamentations here, too, but the overall sense one gets from reading Kim Ports Parsons’ luminous collection is that the world is full of hope if only we open our minds to the possibility."
Semi-finalists, in alphabetical order (by author):
House in Need of Mooring, by Libby Bernardin, Press 53
White Bull, by Elizabeth Hughey, Sarabande Books
Bodies of Time and Space, by Glen A. Mazis, Kelsay Books
Dear If, by Mary B. Moore, Orison Books
Door to Remain, by Austin Segrest, Univ. of North Texas Press
Monologue of Fire, by Samuel Ugbechie, New Rivers Press
Barry Amis, Angela Dribben, Serena Fusek, Mary Haines, Warren Harris, Margaret MacKinnon, Mike Maggio, Jay Paul, and David Anthony Sam.
Our deep gratitude to all those authors and publishers who entered this year’s competition, providing the judges with many hours of reading pleasure and the unenviable task of selecting only one book as First Place winner from among many excellent works.
Sofia M. Starnes
Chair, Poetry Society of Virginia North American Poetry Book Award
Virginia Poet Laureate Emeritus, Luisa A. Igloria
POEM WITH STATUES FALLING
by Luisa A. Igloria
A thousand bodies lining the bridges.
A thousand bodies walking with purpose
everywhere, into the heart of their burning
city. It's summer and we are taking
heads, toppling monuments of despots
and slave-holders off their plinths,
tipping them into the river where they
make a big plonk before disappearing
into the oily depths of the river.
Now we are our own living,
breathing monuments: in the midst
of the rallying crowds, a man
and woman still in wedding
clothes, kissing; gleaming boy
in graduation toga; girl
standing regal in a dress, facing
a line of police officers, hair
whipping back more than the wind.
Published with the permission of the author