The University of Nebraska Press is proud to announce the winner of the Backwaters Press Prize in Poetry for 2022: Laura Reece Hogan of Los Angeles, California, and her manuscript Butterfly Nebula.
Hogan will be awarded $2,000 for her winning collection and it will be published in the fall of 2023. Hogan is the author of Litany of Flights (Paraclete Press, 2020), winner of the Paraclete Poetry Prize, the chapbook O Garden-Dweller (Finishing Line Press, 2017), and the nonfiction book I Live, No Longer I (Wipf & Stock, 2017).
“I’m over the moon that Butterfly Nebula won the prize! The journey of this book has been an astonishment, and fittingly, since the poems contemplate the startling intersections all around us of the physical universe, the individual person, and the divine—and the constantly unfolding experience of being ‘one thing in the act of becoming another,’” said Hogan. “My deepest thanks to Christine Stewart-Nuñez for selecting the book and to all those who contributed to the process. I look forward to working with Backwaters Press and to the emergence of the book into the world.”
The honorable mention is Henrietta Goodman of Billings, Montana. She will be awarded $1,000 and her manuscript, Antillia, will be published in the spring of 2024. Goodman is the author of three books of poetry: All That Held Us, Hungry Moon, and Take What You Want. She teaches at Rocky Mountain College.
“Years ago, as I was flying from Montana to North Carolina, my flight landed briefly in Nebraska—I don’t remember the reason for the stop, but I remember my strange conviction that an ocean lay somewhere beyond the trees and deep gray clouds,” said Goodman. “In Nebraska! Something about the quality of the air gave a sense of expectation—something unexpected and vast just out of sight. I’m absolutely delighted that my book will be published by Backwaters Press, and I hope it will carry its readers to improbable oceans—one of the goals of all poetry, I believe.”
The judge this year was Christine Stewart-Nuñez, the 2019-2021 Poet Laureate of South Dakota.
“I felt deeply honored to read the manuscripts for the final round of judging in this year’s Backwaters Press contest,” said Stewart-Nuñez. “Reading so many strong manuscripts reminded me that the state of our art is robust. The winning and honorable mention manuscripts exemplified the best of this vitality: excellence in craft at the line, poem, and structural levels. Their images and narratives fascinated me days after reading them, and they continued to offer their gifts with every successive re-reading.”
The 2021 Backwaters Prize winner was Laura Bylenok from Fredericksburg, Virginia. Her winning collection Living Room will publish in October 2022. The University of Nebraska Press acquired Backwaters Press in 2018 and continues its yearly poetry prize. For more information, visit nebraskapress.unl.edu.