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Lou Halsell Rodenberger Prize
Walt McDonald First-Book in Poetry

 

The Walt McDonald First-Book Series in Poetry

 The series derives from a competition developed in 1990, at which time Walt McDonald was poetry editor at Texas Tech University Press. Surveying approximately twenty literary journals annually for remarkable work by poets not yet published in book form, Dr. McDonald would invite a dozen or so manuscripts from poets whose work he admired. From these manuscripts he would select a winner only if he found one that he believed must be published. The first winning manuscript, The Love That Ended Yesterday in Texas, was published in 1992. This small competition, which found praise immediately within a discipline disenchanted with large competitions and which has since been emulated elsewhere, has yielded a must-publish manuscript in every year but one.

When Walt McDonald retired as poetry editor in 1996, Robert A. Fink took over the editorship and the competition series and has selected ten books, all of which have met with significant critical praise. His selection for 2004, Keeping My Name, by Catherine Tufariello, subsequently became a Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist in 2005 and won the 2006 Poet’s Prize. His selection for 2006, Burning Wyclif, by Thom Satterlee, also became a Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist, in 2007, and one of three American Library Association selections in poetry that year.

We are pleased to announce “The Glad Hand of God Points Backwards,” by Rachel Mennies, as the twenty-third winner of the annual Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry, to be published in April 2014.

 Previous winners

Tour of the Breath Gallery, Sarah Pemberton Strong

Elsewhere, Kyoko Uchida

Vanitas, Jane McKinley

Horse and Rider, Melissa Range

Leap, Elizabeth Haukaas

Wild Flight, Christine Rhein

The Clearing, Philip White

Burning Wyclif, Thom Satterlee

Slag, Mark Sullivan

Keeping My Name, Catherine Tufariello

Strange Pieta, Gregory Fraser

Skin, April Lindner

Setting the World in Order, Rick Campbell

Heartwood, Miriam Vermilya

Into a Thousand Mouths, Janice Whittington

A Desk in the Elephant House, Cathryn Essinger

Stalking Joy, Margaret Benbow

An Animal of the Sixth Day, Laura Fargas

Anna and the Steel Mill, Deborah Burnham

The Andrew Poems, Shelly Wagner

Between Towns, Laurie Kutchins

The Love That Ended Yesterday in Texas, Cathy Smith Bowers

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SS15 catalog 

View Spring/Summer 2015 catalog