I’m going to word this carefully, without consideration to the worth or skill of any piece shortlisted and with great respect to all involved: I am glad to see this award go to an emerging poet working in the trenches of student-hood– Alycia Pirmohamed. I may have an unpopular opinion on contests like this and who they’re for (IE, not award-winning tenured professors with major salaries).
“Here is a poet who ‘pours and pours’ the whole world inside a single sentence. A poet who puts a sentence under a sentence to build a world,” the jury said in a statement. “There is a biographical depth in Love Poem with Elk and Punctuation, Prairie Storm and Tasbih that gives expression to a narrative yearning that is immediately felt — so much so that to read on is to get to the heart of the lyric mode. There is an unwavering confidence here, a quiet playfulness, and an ear for unpredictable images and symbols, all of which suggest to us that this is a poet to watch, from whom we may learn, in their diction, ‘how to symmetry, how to pray.'”
Note: I have no idea what that jury citation actually means, but I’m keen to read the piece!