2014 PEN New England Award in poetry

So – strange. I’ve put off writing this post for a few weeks, partly due to travel (vacation, yay) and partly because, as it turns out, winning a big award comes with certain obligations. The obligations are fun – an award ceremony this weekend (April 6), alerting all the publications who have ever been so kind as to publish something of mine or a review (I’m still not done yet), and in the future, some readings. All good.

Mostly, though, I’ve had to let this one sink in. My book, out of all the books of poetry published in New England in 2013 and submitted to PEN, was chosen. I don’t know if I can say who the final judge was, as PEN has not made this announcement, but my book had to rise in the usual path through all those books and somehow, somehow, get chosen. Over the past weeks, I’ve felt both ridiculously giddy and very humbled, mostly at the same time. I’m a little closer to tears than usual. My husband is so happy for me that I think even he is closer to tears than usual. I wish I could tell my mom. I wish, I wish. Why is it that an award leaves me wishing? 

When Karen Wulf of PEN New England called me, she told me my book just “levitated” to the top. Ms. Wulf, nothing before has made me believe in the supernatural, but my book levitating anywhere makes me believe. I’m going to keep an eye on my contributor copies at home, see if they occasionally hover. 

I know there’s some ground down there, and my feet will eventually encounter it, but for now, my book and I don’t feel gravity’s tug.

Here’s the link to the PEN announcement:
PEN New England Awards

2014 Split This Rock poetry contest

I just got word that I won the 2014 Split This Rock poetry contest, judged by Tim Seibles. Am I jumping up and down? Oh, yes. Here’s the link to the announcement and the poem:

“At the Mall, There’s a Machine That Tells You If You Are Racist”

While I’m at it, because I know I should, here’s a link to my book Frost in the Low Areas, which won the First Book Award for Poetry from Zone 3 Press and was published October 2013. Free shipping!

Frost in the Low Areas by Karen Skolfield

Enough about me, yeah? Instead, let’s celebrate a poem of Tim Seibles that’s sexy and body-powerful and positive and just all around fun. 

“Ode to My Hands” by Tim Seibles

My gratitude to Split This Rock – I have enjoyed the poetry they put forward for years, and I’m so happy to be invited to the Split This Rock festival in D.C. in March. Looking forward to it!

Interview & poems (reprise) in Extract(s): Daily Dose of Lit

Jenn Monroe, one of the editors over at Extract(s), interviews me, and I get to talk about conversational tone, energy in lines, and when revising is “eat-a-scoop-of-chocolate-ice-cream fun.”

Extract(s) Interview

They also reprinted three poems of mine: “Where Babies Come From,” “Backblast Area Clear,” and “Rumors of Her Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated.” Link below.

Three poems

Many thanks to Jenn and the others at Extract(s) for the interview, and for giving me space in the interview to talk about one of my favorite poems, “Ming” by Jill McDonough.

Interview and five poems in Connotation Press

Kaite Hillenbrand interviewed me for the November issue of Connotation Press and published five of my poems that range from tattoos to flat tires to the dangers of muddy and snowy roads.



My thanks to Kaite for her thoughtful questions and most generous gift of her time. While you’re at the issue, be sure to check out the poems of Treasure Shields Redmond and Amorak Huey. Yowsa! Great stuff! 

Reading at APSU / Zone 3 with Nancy Eimers

I traveled to Clarksville, TN, this month for the launch of my book. Clarksville is home to Austin Peay State University & Zone 3 Press, and every other year they hold a first book contest in poetry and fly in the winner AND the judge for a reading and meeting with a creative writing class. Nancy Eimers, author of Oz (Carnegie Mellon 2011), Grammar to Waking (Carnegie Mellon 2006), No Moon (Purdue 1997), and Destroying Angel (Wesleyan 1991), was the judge, and let me say, a fabulous reader and all-around amazing person. I have never felt so welcome – by Ms. Eimers, but also by the incredible staff and faculty and students of APSU and Zone 3. A special shout-out to Susan Wallace, Andrea Spofford, and Barry Kitterman – I know I saw the tiniest sliver of their responsibilities at APSU and Zone 3, and yet I was impressed by their dedication to students and literature and their own writing.

The book contest and many of the creative writing activities are thanks to Tennessee’s funding and dedication to its Centers of Excellence; the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts is housed at APSU. It’s funding and foresight like this that keeps literature and creative endeavors moving forward.

Here are a couple of photos from the event – one of me and Ms. Eimers; one of me signing books & greeting. Both are grainy (low light, my brother’s phone). But that’s a very happy me in both photos.

Frost in the Low Areas

After more than a year of anticipation (on my part), my book Frost in the Low Areas is now available for pre-order, with shipping happening around the middle of October. You can get it from Zone 3 Press, the publisher, and shipping is FREE.

Please, when you can, support small presses by ordering from the press or through Small Press Distribution. When you order from Amazon, the press gets a measly and evil 20-some percent of the cost back – not enough to sustain a small press. 

Here’s the link to Zone 3 Press, out of Austin Peay State University in Tennessee: https://epay.apsu.edu/C20023_ustores/web/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCTID=163

Frost won the First Book Award from Zone 3 Press. 

Poem in Swarm

My poem “Homunculus” is in the inaugural issue of Swarm! Here’s the link:

“Homunculus”

I mentioned in the previous post how fabulous it was working with Brandon Amico, one of the four editors at Swarm. I just got a thank-you note from him in the mail. Got that? – a thank-you note. Handwritten. On a cute card. How sweet is that? 

So: writers, I encourage you to read Swarm and submit your best. Now I’m off to read the fiction in this issue.