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Announcing the Winner of The 2020 Orison Poetry Prize!

Updated: Dec 20, 2020

Orison Books is pleased to announce that Katie Ford has selected Sanctuary, Vermont by Laura Budofsky Wisniewski as the winner of The 2020 Orison Poetry Prize from among anonymous finalist manuscripts. Budofsky Wisniewski will receive a $1,500 cash award as well as publication of her book by Orison Books.

We're also happy to announce the excellent finalist pool:

"Nothing Hurts in the Hereafter & the Sun Is a Bomb" by Flower Conroy

"Poised for Flight" by Rosie Prohías Driscoll

"Whenever You Eat This" by Gregory Emilio

"Future Symptoms" by Anatoly Molotkov

"Dear If" by Mary Barbara Moore

"Whoever Told Me Not to Dive Headfirst Dove Headfirst and Knew the Taste" by Marco Yan

About the winning manuscript, Ford writes: "Beware the soothing stories of history, that a town named Sanctuary in a Vermont known for bucolic, liberal values has no stories of systemic inequity and violence: 'My mother used to say / If you are ever drowning, raise your eyes; / a rich man will be watching.' This is a book of lost voices, of selfless persona poems shot through with a lyric control so unfaltering it seems Laura Budofsky Wisniewski has written an impossible book. What a rarity, what a necessity for the oppressed not to be generalized but to speak with intricately subtle minds: 'The Overseer says / I am nothing. / But once my mother danced / And I danced with her,' a young girl says. When Budofsky Wisniewski illuminates one person, all of humanity suddenly brightens. This is an unbelievable, moving book that knows, in the end, the only true sanctuary is the one we make of our lives, and our language, for each other."


Laura Budofsky Wisniewski is the author of the chapbook How to Prepare Bear (Redbird Chapbooks, 2019). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Image, Hunger Mountain Review, Ruminate, American Journal of Poetry, Saranac Review, Confrontation, and other journals. She is winner of The 2020 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize, The 2019 Poetry International Prize, and The 2014 Passager Poetry Prize. She lives and writes in a small town in Vermont.


Submissions for The 2021 Orison Poetry Prize will be accepted from December 1, 2020 - April 1, 2021. The judge will be Jericho Brown. Consult for details.


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