Announcing the Backwaters Prize in Poetry Winner for 2019


UNP is proud to announce the winner of the Backwaters Press Prize in Poetry for 2019: Jennifer Sweeney of Redlands, California and her manuscript Foxlogic, Fireweed.

Her collection follows a sequence of five physical and emotional terrains—floodplain, coast, desert, suburbia, mesa—braiding themes of nature, domesticity, isolation and human relationships.

American poet Grace Bauer, who is an Aaron Douglas Professor of English, Creative Writing, Women’s Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, selected this year’s winning manuscripts.

“The poems in Jennifer K. Sweeney’s Foxlogic, Fireweed do the hard work of ‘remaining in the perhaps,’” said Bauer. “Sweeney walks the many fine lines between introspection and observation, speaking plainly and singing. She finds moments of awe in the everyday, urging us to ‘keep afraid what is fearful, hold what demands to be held.’”

Sweeney will be awarded $2,500 for her winning collection and it will be published in September 2020. The honorable mention is Indigo Moor of Sacramento, California and his manuscript, Everybody’s Jonesin’ for Something, will be published in March 2021. The collection is a headfirst plunge into national—and personal—laments and desires. From Emmett Till to the fall of the Towers to the Paradise fires, Moor weaves a thread through the hopes, cravings, passions, sacrifices, and Sisyphean yearnings that make this country the beautiful trap that it is.

The 2018 Backwaters Prize winner was John Sibley Williams from Portland, Oregon. His winning collection, Skin Memory, will be published this November.

UNP purchased the Backwaters Press in 2018 and continues its yearly poetry prize. For more information, visit



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