(Dear Internets: a pre-script.
It has taken me twelve thousand years to post this information on my blog (actually it’s just taken me like three months, but I am not going to let facts deter me from an exaggeration this morning apparently). Honestly, though, the news still feels just as new as when I first got the phone call back in July. It also feels just as joyous and still kind of unbelievable, which makes it even more joyous. And I’m going to — perhaps unwisely — be honest about one of the reasons why.
The book involves two of the most difficult decisions that I have ever made: having a total hysterectomy and leaving academia. Though the first was, clearly, life-altering and terrifying and freeing and sad in ways that I will probably mourn for the rest of my life (though I’m getting to the point of being okay with that, the mourning, because it reminds me of my humanity, and because it reminds me of hope), the second was also intensely terrifying — and freeing in ways I’d never expected. Doing so, however, meant facing a tremendous fear: I thought that I would never publish again, if I wasn’t in academia, if I wasn’t teaching, if I left the only work and world I’d known behind. It was especially wonderful, then, that I got the call about this contest on the Friday of my first week of working a new job in a new field that I absolutely love. Don’t get me wrong: I also loved being in the classroom, and I loved my students, too. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. But I wasn’t happy, and it was time for me to find a way to be happy. It scares me a little to speak openly about that, but I feel like I owe it to my students. I feel it’s crucial, now more than ever, to talk openly to young writers and scholars about other options, other fields, other ways to live and work and grow that can sustain us while we keep doing these wonderful strange things with language.
Now, onto the news …)
I am proud, humbled, honored, and humbled again to share the news that my third full-length collection, House Is An Enigma, was chosen as the winner of the Cowles Poetry Book Prize and will be published by Southeast Missouri State University Press.
This book’s been a long time coming. It’s wandered from contest to contest, hopeful, under different titles and incarnations. It’s taken until now, though, for me to take the book to a place that feels right — and now, the book has found the right place in this press.
House has found a home.
Theses poems were born out of great pain, and it’s a great honor to see this good news come of them. I own a depth of gratitude to Susan Swartwout, James Brubaker, and all of the editors and readers at SEMO Press — not to mention my own dear readers, family, and friends.
You can read the full announcement — including a list of incredible finalists, with whom I am blushingly proud to share this space — here.
Here’s the press release part, if you’d like to take a look and see what this book is all about:
“Southeast Missouri State University Press is pleased to announce that Emma Bolden’s manuscript House is an Enigma is the winner of the 2017 Cowles Poetry Prize, judged by Susan Swartwout. The prize includes $2,000 and publication of the winning manuscript by the University Press. Ms. Bolden’s book will be published in October 2018.
House is an Enigma is an investigation of the language used to house descriptions of the body, which so often seek to define and determine the boundaries and behaviors of the spirit that lives within. Written after Bolden’s radical hysterectomy, during which she noted her doctors’ use of house metaphors to describe her body and discuss her inability to have children, these stunning poems set out to expose the fissures in the foundations of the language we use to define human bodies and their behaviors, using these cracks as a lens through which she can see her own body, at last, as her own flawed but beautiful home.
Emma Bolden is the author of two books, Malificae and medi(t)ations, and several chapbooks. Her poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in Colorado Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Salamander, National Poetry Review, Nimrod, Triquarterly, Fairy Tale Review, Prairie Schooner, Cimarron Review, StoryQuarterly, Bellingham Review, DIAGRAM, Monkeybicycle, and Gulf Coast among other venues. Bolden received a 2017 Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment of the Arts.”