2010 Gell Poetry Prize Winner Teresa Middleton
Writers & Books and Big Pencil Press are pleased to announce that the winner of the third annual Kenneth and Geraldine Gell Poetry Prize is Teresa Middleton, a poet from Greenwood, Indiana, for her full-length-book manuscript entitled Junk DNA: A Collection of Sonnets. Ms. Middleton’s book was selected by finalist judge Baron Wormser.
The Gell Poetry Prize is awarded annually for an as-yet-unpublished book of poems of exceptional quality. In addition to the fall, 2010 publication of her book by Big Pencil Press, the publishing imprint of Writers & Books, Ms. Middleton will receive an honorarium of $1000, and a residency at The Gell Center, W&B’s rural retreat center in New York’s Finger Lakes Region.
In his Foreword to the book, Mr. Wormser said, “The wonder of this book is how Teresa Middleton has taken a centuries-old form and made it her own, for what distinguishes these sonnets is their remarkable legerity. These poems dance. The rhymes are not impediments; they are spurs to continuous feats of fancy, insight, narrative and reflection.”
Teresa Middleton lives with her daughter and husband in Greenwood, IN, and has taught English and creative writing in Indiana Schools for over twenty years. Her first book of poems, Core and Seed, was published in 2001 by Magner Publishers. She was inspired to write Junk DNA after attending an Associated Writing Programs (AWP) workshop in Vancouver, B.C. The idea that 98% of human DNA is a mystery to scientists, and that the sequences in DNA function much like language, fascinated and motivated her to experiment with the sonnet form–to write a collection containing ten strands of ten connected sonnets.
Writers & Books Executive Director Joe Flaherty said, “An unprecedented high number of entries were received in the competition this year, with many of superb literary strengths. The decision-making process was not easy.”
Previous winners of the award have been Veronica Patterson in 2009, for her book Thresh & Hold, chosen by Lola Haskins; and Roz Spafford in 2008, for her book Requiem, chosen by Carl Dennis.