Winner of the 2013 Perugia Press Prize
for a first or second book of poetry by a woman
by Gail Martin
The poems in Begin Empty-Handed ride the hinge between the life expected and the reality of life in process. In response, the mid-life speaker pivots between being empathetic and disengaged, resulting in a paradoxical and believable stance. While she surrenders to hard truths—loss of parent, enduring marriage, mothering daughters in trouble, for example—she’s a subject-changer, she digresses, then she looks straight at the pain. Throughout, though, she remains remarkably witty and ironic. No illness, damage, or danger is made light of; painful situations are witnessed or resisted with a raw and intermittently comic attitude as the poet goes about the brutal work of letting go.
Praised by the judges for the poet’s “endearing wobble” in attitude, “cheerful pessimism,” and “fiery, vibrant, and spirited” voice, the manuscript has image-rich narratives, cool understatement, and attention to form.
Gail Martin is a therapist in private practice in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her first book is The Hourglass Heart (New Issues, 2003).
Begin Empty-Handed is due to be released in September 2013.
Runner-up: Hannah Notess, The Multitude
Finalists: Jaimee Hills, Symbolophobia; Wendy Miles, Reliquary
Semi-Finalists: M. S. Eisele, My Imaginary Sister Gets Married; Clara Fang, Garden of Transgressions; Elizabeth Hazen, Scavenger; Christina Hutchins, Plum-Hot the Anvil; Catherine Jagoe, The Breath of Houses; Becky Kennedy, Living With; Mary Morris, Curator of Dreams; Alison Powell, On the Desire to Levitate,; Kristin Robertson, Almost Like Wings; Chelsea Wagenaar, Borrowed Light; Valerie Wallace, The Dictators’ Guide to Good Housekeeping; Helen Wickes, The Moon Over Zabriskie.
Perugia Press Prize: A prize of $1000 and publication by Perugia Press is given annually for a first or second unpublished poetry collection by a woman.