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Announcing the Winner of The 2019 Orison Poetry Prize!

We are pleased to announce that Eric Pankey has selected Post-Mortem by Heather Altfeld as the winner of The 2019 Orison Poetry Prize from anonymous manuscripts. Altfeld will receive a $1,500 cash prize and publication of her manuscript by Orison Books.

About Post-Mortem, Eric Pankey writes:

“An extended meditation on language, an atlas of the visible and the invisible, as well as a memorial book to all that is lost and will be lost to us, Post-Mortem is a brilliant, baroque, and word-crazed collection of poems. While the primary mode of the poems is elegiac (many taking as their forms obituaries, autopsies, and kaddishes), one cannot help but delight in Altfeld’s reverie and in the breadth and depth of her inquiry, her exploration, her katabasis as she leads us like Virgil through a stunning and elaborate posthumous world.”

Heather Altfeld is the author of The Disappearing Theatre, which won the 2016 Poets at Work Prize, selected by Stephen Dunn. She is the 2017 recipient of the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America and the 2015 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Conjunctions, Orion, Aeon, Narrative Magazine, The Georgia Review,ZYZZYVA, and Best American Essays. She lives in Northern California, where she teaches in the Comparative Religion and Humanities Department and the University Honors Program at California State University, Chico.

The editors are also pleased to announce that they have selected one of the finalist manuscripts, Arsenal with Praise Song by Rodney Gómez, for publication.

Rodney Gómez is the author of Citizens of the Mausoleum (Sundress Publications, 2018) and Ceremony of Sand (YesYes Books, 2019). His work has appeared in Poetry, Poetry Northwest, The Gettysburg Review, Blackbird, Denver Quarterly, Puerto del Sol, Pleiades, Verse Daily, and other journals. His first chapbook, Mouth Filled with Night, was the winner of Northwestern University’s Drinking Gourd Prize. He is a member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop. In 2020 he will serve as Poet Laureate of the City of Mcallen, Texas, where he lives with his wife Sara. 

The editors are pleased to recognize the following finalists and semi-finalists.


According to Sand, Thorpe Moeckle Beehive State, Christian Gullette praised be the last light of your mechanics, Daniel Biegelson Chimera, Mary B. Moore


Tender the River, Matt Miller Pentimento, Jessica Guzman Alderman Studies of Familiar Birds, Carrie Green Racecar Jesus, Travis Mossotti The Golden Reserve, Brooke Sahni Sabbath Cinema, Amy Gottlieb Self-Portrait with Cephalopod, Kathryn Smith Darling, We Are Built It Seems to Vanish, L. S. McKee

The Orison Prizes in Fiction & Poetry are open annually from December 1 – April 1. Next year’s judges will be Samrat Upadhyay(fiction) and Katie Ford (poetry). Consult for the latest information.


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