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Updated: May 23

Simone Person, author of Smoke Girl, is the winner of the 2020 Eric Hoffer Award in the chapbook category & shortlisted for the 2020 Eric Hoffer Grand Prize! Congratulations, Simone!


From the Eric Hoffer website:


The Eric Hoffer Award honors the memory of the great American philosopher Eric Hoffer by highlighting salient writing, as well as the independent spirit of small publishers. Since its inception, the Hoffer has become one of the largest international book awards for small, academic, and independent presses.
In addition to the grand prize, the Eric Hoffer Award identifies a winner, a runner-up, and honorable mentions within eighteen all-inclusive categories. Additional honors go to academic, small, micro, and self-published presses. The category finalists and the grand prize short list are further noted.

Smoke Girl is a study in loss: of body, safety, and identity. It interrogates the simultaneous invisibility and hypervisibility of fat, Black, femme bodies. Instead of forgetting,Simone Person breaks the silences and shame embedded in the murky aftermath of sexual assault, employing the voices of victim, perpetrator, and spectator throughout.


Praise for Smoke Girl:


Simone Person’s poetry is not for everyone; it is not for the cowardly or the two faced. Her poetry will look you in the eye and exhale thick truth that will either warm you or choke you.

Rachel Wiley, author of Nothing Is Okay and Fat Girl Finishing School

Smoke Girl introduces us to a narrator who remembers the after-effects of rape: the “wondering if it was rape at all…” and the questions in hindsight: “Didn’t you notice he was a dog”? Simone Person offers us a narrative that vacillates between shame and anger, doubt and certainty, self-blame and empathy. These poems reveal the trauma that rape directly causes to the body and the emotional, psychological, historical, and spiritual trauma it unearths. They do not hide the point of origin for Smoke Girl's pain, desire, and hope of being loved by someone: the rejection of her own body by everyone, including herself. Yet, this story is one that makes visible the internal and external struggle of  “survivors” as they push themselves out of what often times feels like being buried alive. Smoke Girl, however, is also a warning and reclamation; its words a ritual of unsilencing and protection: “…I scrub your fingertips from my skin. / Set fire to the / things you touched. / Salt my doorways so you can’t enter. / Fill in what you dug from me… I forget / the burn of your name, walk through you in the street, and you are gauzy and thin like cotton.” And, true to the nature of smoke, these poems will rise from invisibility, settle into places you want to keep hidden, and burn themselves into your consciousness until you cannot forget them.

Maria Hamilton Abegunde, PhD, author of What Is Now Unanswerable; Still Breathing; Wishful Thinking; and Learning to Eat the Dead: Juba, USA (forthcoming)

In Smoke Girl, Simone Person documents the anguish and loss of sexual violence; these poems weave a narrative of wound and scar, the ritual of a fist clenched and released. Speaking from and to several voices, Smoke Girl potently illustrates the wraith of trauma, how it disrupts and disturbs memory and time. These words render devastation, through its avenues and histories, as tangible on the page; Person is an observant and empathetic writer, one whose gorgeous work I am honored to know.

Yasmin Belkhyr, author of Bone Light


Simone Person grew up in small Michigan towns and Toledo, Ohio. She is a Pink Door Women’s Writing Retreat 2018 Fellow and author of Dislocate, the prose winner ofHoneysuckle Press’s2017 Chapbook Contest. She is currently an MFA/MA in Fiction and African American and African Diaspora Studies at Indiana University. Her work has appeared inPuerto del Sol, Yemassee, Gigantic Sequins, and others. Find out more at simoneperson.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @princxporkchop.


Read more about Smoke Girl at the link here.

KC Trommer, author of We Call Them Beautiful, is a finalist for the 2020 Eric Hoffer Grand Prize, the first runner-up for the Eric Hoffer Poetry Category Award, and a 2020 First Horizon Award Finalist! Congratulations, KC!

From the Eric Hoffer website:


The Eric Hoffer Award honors the memory of the great American philosopher Eric Hoffer by highlighting salient writing, as well as the independent spirit of small publishers. Since its inception, the Hoffer has become one of the largest international book awards for small, academic, and independent presses.
In addition to the grand prize, the Eric Hoffer Award identifies a winner, a runner-up, and honorable mentions within eighteen all-inclusive categories. Additional honors go to academic, small, micro, and self-published presses. The category finalists and the grand prize short list are further noted.

We Call Them Beautiful is a vibrant debut, filled with emergencies and responses to them. “This, all this,/is the making of you,” the poet KC Trommer writes, reminding us that what we live through changes us and the stories we tell about our lives. In these poems of love, pleasure, and survival, the poet navigates the cold menace of the Atlantic Ocean, the wild terrors of sex and carnival rides, the bittersweetness of watching her sleeping child’s quiet breathing, all while mapping the power, joy, and dangers of being a woman in the world. Drawing its strength from discovery,We Call Them Beautiful explores the necessary making and remaking of the self, through art and stories, while looking unflinchingly at the ways that time works on us all.


Praise for We Call Them Beautiful:


Rejoice all lovers of the word for the generous, gorgeous, and timely gathering that is KC Trommer's We Call Them Beautiful. The world needs these poems right now for they are fostered alike by Beauty and by Dread and they do what only real poems can: they leave us changed. We come away from reading them somehow feeling like the recipients of a benediction that makes us more merciful, more tender towards the world, towards ourselves.

Lorna Goodison, Poet Laureate of Jamaica

KC Trommer’s brave debut explores the power in doing: seeing, naming. touching, marveling, grieving. Some of the most heart-wrenching poems in We Call Them Beautiful explore divorce—the rage, alienation, and disappointment. As Trommer writes, “Now is a matter of thinking of what tense / I choose to know you in.” As these poems wisely suggest, past, present, and future are all imperfect, but there is a hopeful courage in the voice: “Wherever I go, I am this woman.” This woman—this poet—is a force. —Maggie Smith, author of Good Bones

To be “broken and mended, broken and mended,” the poet, KC Trommer, writes for all of us, as she fearlessly and poetically confronts the corrosion—and tender maternity—of love’s scarred and unfathomable existence.

Emily Fragos, author of St. Torch

Assured and masterful in its compassion, KC Trommer’s poetry is a salvage and positively shimmering balm, always open to the quite miraculous, the delicate negotiations in realms of home, heartbreak, the Cape and city blocks, layers of subways and museum havens. If you are like me, repeating to myself her turns of capture and release, you will find these lines etched long in memory: these poems are a net of light, piece-by-piece bringing up the best in all of us and unmistakably making the day sing. —Douglas A. Martin, author of Acker Among KC Trommer’s poems, one finds emergences, tests of bravery, and dollops of trust. Her poem’s utterances—sometimes turning on display, sometimes mercurially floating in a consuming element . . . sometimes nervous peerage into traps, sometimes celebrations of the security of confederation—are always a suspension of self-possession; hers are songs of the unrepressed and the eternal. —Scott Hightower, author of Self-evident


KC Trommer is the author ofWe Call Them Beautiful (Diode Editions, 2019), as well as the chapbook The Hasp Tongue (dancing girl press, 2014). A graduate of the MFA program at The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, she has been the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and her poem “Fear Not, Mary” won the 2015Fugue Poetry Prize.Her work has appeared in AGNI, The Antioch Review, Blackbird, Octopus, The Sycamore Review, Prairie Schooner, Poetry East, and in the anthologies Resist Much, Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance (Spuyten Duyvil, 2017) and Who Will Speak for America? (Temple University Press, 2018). She is the curator of the online audio project QUEENSBOUND. You can find her at kctrommer.com.


Read more about We Call Them Beautiful at the link here.

Ricky Ray, author of Fealty, is a longlist finalist for the 2019 Julie Suk Award. The award honors an outstanding book of poetry published by a literary press in 2019. Congratulations, Ricky!


In Ricky Ray's debut collection, Fealty, the world quickly reveals itself as more complex and mysterious than we imagined. In poems surreal, feral, visceral, and yet tender, moving, and wise, Ray guides us through themes of love, death, animism, fidelity, belonging, and care. There is something of the ancients in his consciousness, which continually reminds us that we not only inhabit the earth, but are movements of the earth itself. Ray's connection to creatures great and small feels elemental; dog and dandelion stand beside man and mountain in the light. His eco-poetics, reminiscent of Wendell Berry and Joy Harjo, carries the dark passion of duende and the rhythmic swing of jazz manouche. All told, Ricky Ray is a modern-day mystic, and Fealty is a series of startling visions capable of inducing a more intimate kinship with the world.


Praise for Fealty:


Ever in service to poetry, Ricky Ray's Fealty is a harrowing inquest into the connective tissue between self and other. The outlines and boundaries of being materialize and dissipate in turns in his poetic worlds. The self shifts; the self inhabits other selves; the spirit can possess and be possessed. Each blade of grass, each lightning strike, each pool of blood, each log fresh from the chopping block pulses with the poet's heartbeat, which he in turn freely feeds to the wolves and horses, the unwanted animals, the struggling, the decaying and the dead. In probing and electrifying verse, Ricky Ray's poems offer a bounty of a world in which every heartbreak, every brokenness, every death and despair transform into this very necessary living being of a book.   — Jenny Boully, author of The Body: An Essay

Ricky Ray's poems, sure of syntax and direct of speech, paradoxically succeed in bringing us deep into what he calls "the anguish of entanglement", which is to say the anguish of our intertwine with other species. The shifting ground between the human animal and the other animals, and between the animal and the plant, is, in his writing, always powerfully felt. If the biped's legs are dead wood, then dead wood dares lightning to strike, an ecstatic roar to brighten, a fire to warm or kill. A wild horse runs through these poems as well, stopping long enough to stare us down, to shiver us with duende. Beneath it all one feels the psycho-geography of what we now call "The Florida Everglades," that primordial soup in which life forms emerge, merge, or cancel one another out. There is nothing permanent about either "everglades" or "evergreens": Ricky Ray's Fealty is a celebration of the most extreme fragilities of the body and the planet. — Leonard Schwartz, author of If

This book is the sermon we need after hours, when life’s sorrow overtakes our vision. — Natalie Eilbert, author of Indictus

Inventiveness, lyricism and mystery—I like the way he plays with memory and finally catches memory off its guard. — Claudia Emerson, Pulitzer laureate and author of Late Wife


Ricky Ray was born in Florida and educated at Columbia University. He is the founding editor of Rascal: a Journal of Ecology, Literature and Art.His awards include the Cormac McCarthy Prize, the Ron McFarland Poetry Prize, the Fortnight Poetry Prize and a Whisper River Poetry Prize. His work has appeared widely in periodicals and anthologies, includingThe American Scholar, The Matador Review, Amaryllis, Scintilla and Fugue.He lives in Harlem with his wife, three cats, and a Labradetter. Their bed, like any good home of the heart, is frequently overcrowded. 


Read more about Fealty at the link here.

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