2013 Black Box Poetry Prize

The Black Box Poetry Prize
June, 2013
Judge: Heather Christle

Rescue Press presents The Black Box Poetry Prize, a contest for full-length collections of poetry, open to poets at any stage in their writing careers. This year’s submissions will be accepted during the month of June 2013.

To enter:

1. Attach your manuscript and cover letter to an email (.pdf or .doc only) addressed to: rescuepressprize@gmail.com. The cover letter should briefly introduce yourself and include any biographical details, acknowledgements, contact information, or notes you may wish to send. Your name should not appear in the manuscript beyond the title page, and simultaneous submissions are allowed but please notify the editors if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere. Students or close friends of the judge are ineligible.

2. Participants have the option to submit a reading fee via this Paypal link. Rescue Press is supporting an offer-what-you-will payment method. In other words, you are not required to pay a fee in order to enter the contest but donations of any amount are appreciated and go toward publishing the winning manuscript and potentially an editor’s choice. Let us know if you have questions.

3. Rescue Press editors will send a select number of anonymous manuscripts to our judge, Heather Christle, who will choose the 2013 Black Box Poetry Prize winner. Results will be announced in Fall 2013 on our website and via email, and the winning manuscript(s) will be published in Fall 2014.

Judge: Heather Christle is the author of What Is Amazing (Wesleyan University Press, 2012), The Difficult Farm (Octopus Books, 2009), and The Trees The Trees (Octopus Books, 2011), which won the 2012 Believer Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared in publications including Boston Review, Gulf CoastThe New Yorker, and The Best American Poetry. She has taught poetry at Sarah Lawrence College, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Emory University, where she was the 2009-2011 Poetry Writing Fellow. She is the Web Editor for jubilat and frequently a writer in residence at the Juniper Summer Writing Institute. A native of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, she lives in Yellow Springs, OH.

Previous Winners:

Judge’s Choice: Blueberry Morningsnow’s WHALE IN THE WOODS, selected by Sabrina Orah Mark

Editor’s Choice: Philip Sorenson’s OF EMBODIES

Judge’s Choice: Todd Melicker’s RENDEZVOUS, selected by Zach Savich

Editor’s Choice: Hannah Brooks-Motl’s THE NEW YEARS

February News from Rescue

Have you been wondering what the Rescue crew is up to? Here are a few updates and a bunch of new work from Rescue Press authors and editors: Marc Rahe has new poems up at Petri Press.

Madeline McDonnell’s new book, PENNY, N., will be published by Rescue this spring. You can find the first copies at this year’s AWP, where Madeline will be reading here with fellow Rescue authors Zach Savich and Mary Hickman. She’ll also be reading at Prairie Lights in Iowa City on April 16th.

Shane McCrae’s second book, BLOOD, will be released this month by Noemi Press. He will be reading at Prairie Lights on April 10th with Carmen Gimenez Smith. Check out these lovely interviews with Shane at VOLTA and PEN/America.

Zach Savich is currently judging Rescue Press’ first annual Open Prose Series with Hilary Plum. He reviews C.P. Cavafy’s “Half an Hour” here.

Andrea Rexilius is interviewed as part of “The Next Big Thing” series and at 12 or 20 Questions.

Danielle Rosen (aka Patricia Rose) continues with new research and experiments at the Institute for Species Systemization. An interview about her scientific and linguistic interests can be found in jubilat 22.

Vinnie Wilhelm’s collection of stories, IN THE ABSENCE OF PREDATORS, was reviewed at Front Porch journal.

Melissa Dickey has new poems up at Propeller magazine.

Phil Sorenson will read on April 5th at the SPECTRA reading series in the Quad Cities.

Blueberry Morningsnow reads a divination poem (as part of a collaboration with the visual artist Aleta Lanier) at jubilat 22.

Managing Editor Danny Khalastchi talks about the forthcoming R+P poetry anthology, THE NEW CENSUS, in his “Next Big Thing” interview.

THE NEW CENSUS editor Lauren Shapiro’s first book of poetry, EASY MATH, has just been released by Sarabande Books (read a poem from it at Verse Daily).

Open Prose Series editor Hilary Plum’s first novel, THEY DRAGGED THEM THROUGH THE STREETS, will be out this month from FC2; read an excerpt at berfrois.

Also, come find us at AWP at the Rescue table and this reading!!! And look for upcoming collections by Mary Hickman, Jonathan Blum, Todd Melicker, and Hannah Brooks-Motl!

2012 Black Box Poetry Prize Results:

Rescue Press is excited to announce Todd Melicker as the winner of this year's Black Box Poetry Prize. Todd's manuscript, rendezvous, was chosen by our judge, Zach Savich, and will be published in Fall 2013. Todd Melicker daily wanders the streets of Petaluma, CA, gathering data as a GPS technician. He is the author of the chapbooks day collects (Woodland Editions), the immaculate autopsy (Achiote Press), and king & queen (LRL Textile Editions). Recently, he was managing editor of VOLT and his work has appeared in Ambush Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, and New American Writing.

Rescue Press has also selected Hannah Brooks-Motl's The New Years for publication in Spring 2014 as our Editor's Choice.

Hannah Brooks-Motl was born and raised in Wisconsin and now lives in western Massachusetts. Her poems and criticism have appeared or are forthcoming from places such as Everyday Genius, FENCE, Sixth Finch, the Song Cave, Typo, the Kenyon Review Online, and the New Republic, among others.

Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to all who entered. We would also like to remind you that last year's Black Box books--Blueberry Morningsnow's Whale in the Woods and Philip Sorenson's Of Embodies--are available for purchase on our website or at SPD.

Also, we're excited for our two Spring publications: Madeline McDonnell's novella, Penny, n., and an anthology of contemporary poetry, The New Census. Check back in for more details about these books, author readings, and our AWP events, as well as an open reading period for prose in the winter of 2013.

Love, Rescue Press

Caryl Pagel Danny Khalastchi

Safety Book #22 (Phil Sorenson)

The book is Georg Trakl: Poems and Prose, translated by Alexander Stillmark, who also provides an excellent introduction. I love the book for its expressionism, its grimness, its excess. It’s strange. It’s cinematic; I mean that the book’s images resemble some of my favorite expressionist films: Vampyr or The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari or Nosferatu. The poems are almost haiku. Trakl strings together declarations that present images. The images are frequently redundant in the context of his other poems. They are autumnal, with wine vats and crypts and crows and shepherds and skeletons and creatures and vagabonds and dark forests. The mood is always incredibly still and full of sighing, even if the imagery is over-the-top. Trakl’s poems remind me of Baudelaire and Aase Berg and Nerval and Keats and Bhanu Kapil and Poe (etc.), and they remind me of H. P. Lovecraft’s stories and the moods in those stories. I love too the summers and summer storms that edge through the poems: “At evening the cuckoo’s lament / In the wood is silent. / The corn stoops lower, / The red poppy.” The poem continues: “Black storms threaten / Above the hill / . . . The leaves of the chestnut / Never stir. / On the winding stair / Your dress rustles.” On a side note, Trakl was obsessed with Kaspar Hauser, and he wrote a poem about Hauser. Coincidentally, soon after discovering Trakl’s poetry, I watched Werner Herzog’s The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, which everyone should see: it’s a wonderful movie.

On an even further side note, I just read Daniel Borzutzky’s translation of Jaime Luis Huenún’s delightful Port Trakl. Huenún’s book is a series of short poems that describes an eerie and largely abandoned South American port. In the introduction to the book, Borzutzky writes, “Ultimately, poetry could not rescue Trakl the writer from the horror and violence of the world, and so as our speaker traverses the autonomous port where the only cultural references are literary, he encounters stowaways who have ‘lost their language,’ and priests who declare that they live in a ‘homeland of silence.’”

2. Where were you when you first read, or saw, or heard of this book?

I think I bought this copy in Portland, Oregon in 2005, but I might have bought it here in Chicago. I don’t really know. But, the first collection of Trakl’s poems that I encountered was a year before that purchase. I was working for a small editorial firm in a Chicago suburb, and one afternoon I ended up wandering around the suburb’s library. I found by chance a thin blue volume of Trakl’s poems and checked it out. I remember reading the collection on the train. It was in the middle of the summer: too hot and too bright, and I really missed the fall, and Trakl is so expert at creating that fall feeling.

3. Did this book influence your own writing, thinking, sense of the world, or work?

When someone praises the “imagery” in a poem, it often seems like a veiled insult, as if images are somehow degraded things, somewhat unwelcome, perhaps too easy, definitely something one must justify with “content.” Trakl doesn’t “earn” his images. They are the poem, and the images are garish. They are redundant and gross and too much: “All silver a childlike skeleton shatters upon a bare wall.” That’s totally unnecessary, too weird, but it never leaves me. Reading Trakl is like being in a dim room full to the ceiling with broken furniture; it’s like Grimm’s fairy tales, and it’s like this.

4. Give us a line or excerpt from the text that intrigues, engages, mystifies, inspires, disgusts, or transforms you. Discuss…

Here is part of “De Profundis”:

Returning home The shepherds found the sweet body Decayed in the thorn-bush.

I am a shadow far from sombre villages. God’s silence I drank from the spring in the grove.

Cold metal enters upon my brow, Spiders seek out my heart. There is a light that goes out in my mouth.

At night I found myself on the heath, Stiff with refuse and dust of stars. In the hazel-bush Crystalline angels sounded again.

The “light that goes out in my mouth”: it’s so odd. What does that mean? I’m not sure if it’s idiomatic or what exactly the image is conveying, but I love it; I see an open mouth and an extinguished lamp. The spiders, the thorns, the metal, and silence erupt in a wintry collage: “Crystalline angels,”  “hissing wind,” “black rain.”

5. Who did you send this book to, why?

I dropped a copy on the train. It’s a hot summer, and it’s difficult to go outside.


Philip Sorenson is the author of the recently released book of poetry OF EMBODIES. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Olivia Cronk, and their daughter, Louise. His poems have appeared in a variety of journals, including Hayden's Ferry Review, elimae, Asymptote, and Saltgrass. He teaches writing and literature.