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PSV North American Poetry Book Award Winners

Learn more about our previous NAPBA winners.

WINNER of the

2023 PSV North American Poetry Book Award

Heartbreak Tree by Pauletta Hansel

Heartbreak-Tree cover (Pauletta Hansel).jpg

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 reading from the winning collection at the 2023 PSV Centennial Festival.

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.”

About the 2023 winning author:

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.


2023 NAPBA Finalists and Semi-finalists

First Finalist

Since the House is Burning Suzanne Edison.jpg

“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.” --Bill Glose, NAPBA Final Judge

Second Finalist

“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." --Bill Glose, NAPBA Final Judge

House in Need of Mooring
by Libby Bernardin
Press 53

2023 NAPBA
Finalists and Semi-finalists

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

WINNER of the

2022 North American Poetry Book Award


Boneyarn by David Mills


“David Mills’ book, Boneyarn (The Ashland Poetry Press) is a compilation of masterful, well-researched poems that, in the author’s words, stand ‘in remembrance of the 15,000 unnamed enslaved and free blacks, indentured whites, and Native Americans interred in New York City’s Negro Burial Ground, America’s oldest and largest slave cemetery: 1712 – 1795.’ (Today, the cemetery is known as the African Burial Ground.)


At times, in this collection, Mills enters a speaker’s body and soul by focusing on the intense pain endured. The highlighted figures range from an enslaved cook to an indentured teen, employed as a chimney sweep apprentice.


The author’s command of the persona poem is exceptional. Like the work of such notable poets as Ai and Robert Browning, Mills’ monologues are ingenious and profound. (…)


Collectively, the poems in Boneyarn enlighten the reader’s awareness of a soul-stirring historical time that should never be forgotten.” ~Dr. Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, Final Judge, Virginia Poet Laureate, Emerita, 2006-2008


About the 2022 winning author:

David Mills holds a BA (cum laude) from Yale University, an MFA from Warren Wilson College, and an MA from New York University. He has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, The American Antiquarian Society, The Queens Council on the Arts, and many other organizations. He has recorded his poetry for ESPN and RCA Records, and he lived in the landmark Harlem home of Langston Hughes for three years. His work has been widely published in such journals as Ploughshares, Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review, Main Street Rag and Jubilat, and his previous books are The Sudden Country, The Dream Detective, and After Mistic. He wrote the audio script for MacArthur-Genius-Award Winner Deborah Willis’ curated exhibition: Reflections in Black:100 Years of Black Photography, which showed at the Whitney and Getty West Museums.


2022 NAPBA Finalists and Semi-finalists

First Finalist

A Fine Yellow Dust

By Laura Apol

(Michigan State University Press)


Second Finalist

Anything That Happens

By Cheryl Wilder

(Press 53)


Semi-finalists (in alphabetical order, by author)

Wasteland Honey by Robert Clinton (Circling Rivers Press, 2021)
At the Bottom of the Year by David Craig (Angelico Press, 2021)
Sweetgum & Lightning by Rodney Terich Leonard (Four Way Books, 2021)
Dolls by Claire Millikin (2Leaf Press, 2021)
Flying Yellow by Suzanne Rhodes (Paraclete Press, 2021)
Somewhere to Follow by Paul Willis (Slant Books, 2021)

WINNER of the 2021 Poetry Society of Virginia

North American Book Award

Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry by John Murillo


“It’s become almost commonplace to hear poems praised for their courage, unflinchingness, or steady gaze—perhaps indicating that such works give words to what others are unwilling or unable to say, that somehow they have steeled themselves in order not to look away.


But the poems in John Murillo’s Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry are some of the most powerful I’ve encountered, precisely because of how the poet offers his own vulnerabilities of seeing and feeling: “What/ I want, I’m not supposed to.”


Into our urban landscapes afire with violence and lamentation, he presses steadily forward toward each flailing, and asks us: Stay with me now.” ~Luisa A. Igloria, Final Judge, Virginia Poet Laureate, 2020-2022.


About the 2021 winning author:  

John Murillo is the author of Up Jump the Boogie (Cypher 2010, Four Way 2020), finalist for both the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Pen Open Book Award, and Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way Books 2020), winner of the 2021 Poetry Society of Virginia North American Book Award. His honors include a Pushcart Prize, the J Howard and Barbara MJ Wood Prize from the Poetry Foundation, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Cave Canem Foundation, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and Best American Poetry 2017, 2019, and 2020. He is an assistant professor of English at Wesleyan University and also teaches in the low residency MFA program at Sierra Nevada College.


2021 Finalists


2021 Semi-finalists

(alphabetical by author)


by Dan Beachy-Quick

(Tupelo Press)


by Lauren Camp

(Tupelo Press)


by John Martin Finlay

(Wiseblood Press)



by Stephen Benz

(Main Street Rag)


by Meg Eden

(Press 53)


by Sarah M. Sala

(Tolsun Books)

by Lauren Shapiro

(Cleveland State University Poetry Center)

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