MQR Announces 2017 Literary Prizes

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Lawrence Foundation Prize

Hananah Zaheer has won the $1,000 Lawrence Foundation Prize for 2017. The prize is awarded annually by the Editorial Board of MQR to the author of the best short story published that year in the journal. Zaheer’s story, “In the Days of Old Things,” appeared in the Spring 2017 issue. MQR’s Prose Editor Polly Rosenwaike writes:

Hananah Zaheer’s “In the Days of Old Things” drops us right into the world of the central character: an elderly Pakistani woman, a retired teacher. We learn what she eats for dinner, where she stashes her cash, and how much she resents the government’s increasing intrusions into people’s lives. She resides in an old apartment building that the “Make Lahore Great Again project” intends to tear down. This is a quiet story—eloquently, chillingly quiet. In its close attention to one humble existence, it captures the dignity—and helplessness—of a private individual confronted by the sweep of power that doesn’t care about individual lives. It makes us afraid, and we should be. 

Hananah Zaheer

Zaheer is the fortieth winner of the prize, joining, among other authors, Charles Baxter, Paul Bowles, Susan Dodd, Clark Blaise, Sena Jeter Naslund, Rebecca Makkai, Alice Mattison, and Lynne Sharon Schwartz. The prize is endowed by the Lawrence Foundation and its director, Leonard S. Bernstein, an alumnus of the University of Michigan and himself a fiction writer.

Zaheer lives, writes, and improvises (life and theatre) in Dubai. She is currently working on a collection of short stories. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Gargoyle, Willow Review, Concho River Review, Westview, Word Riot, Moon City Review, Knee-Jerk, and Bartleby Snopes, among others. She earned an MFA from the University of Maryland, and is a co-founder of #MTGcollective as well as a founder of the Dubai Literary Salon. She also serves as a Fiction Editor for Four Way Review. Find out more about her work at hananahzaheer.com, or follow her on Twitter @hananahzaheer.

Laurence Goldstein Poetry Prize

Bruce Bond has won the 2017 Laurence Goldstein Poetry Prize, which is awarded annually to the author of the best poem or group of poems appearing that year in MQR. His poem “Lorca” appeared in the Spring 2017 issue. This year’s judge, A. Van Jordan, writes:

Bruce Bond

From the poem’s point of entry, we’re met both with the command of the line and with the style of the syntax, creating a tension that sustains to the last line. “Lorca” manages to conjure the spirit of the poet along with the duende he worked to harness in his poems. I’m struck here not only by the voice that is clearly singular to this poet, Bruce Bond, but also by the ability to maintain his own voice while extending the tradition of another.

Bond is the author of eighteen books including, most recently, Immanent Distance: Poetry and the Metaphysics of the Near at Hand (University of Michigan Press, 2015), Black Anthem (Tampa Review Prize, University of Tampa Press, 2016), Gold Bee (Southern Illinois University Press, 2016), Sacrum (Four Way Books, 2017), and Blackout Starlight: New and Selected Poems, 1997-2015 (LSU Press, 2017). Three of his books are forthcoming: Rise and Fall of the Lesser Sun Gods (Elixir Press), Frankenstein’s Children (Lost Horse Press), and Dear Reader (Free Verse Editions). Presently he is a Regents Professor of English at University of North Texas.

The Laurence Goldstein Prize was established in 2002 by a generous gift from the Office of the President of the University of Michigan and is awarded in the amount of $500. A different judge is selected each year by the university.

Page Davidson Clayton Prize for Emerging Poets

Michael Lavers

Michael Lavers has won the 2017 Page Davidson Clayton Prize for Emerging Poets, which is awarded annually to the best poet appearing in MQR who has not yet published a book. The award, which is determined by the MQR editors, is in the amount of $500. MQR’s Poetry Editor Katie Willingham writes about “How to Die, and When,” which appeared in the Spring 2017 issue:

The audacity in the title alone keeps me returning to this one. It reminds me of the special alchemy that allows poetry to peer into the abyss and live to tell about it. From there, this short poem issues its instructions on the matter with uncannily lilting ease. Held to the end, I am left wrestling with the knowledge I have swallowed these imperatives on dying and now fully intend to go on living. I wonder, too, if this is a trap Lavers first devised to spring on himself, to reach a thought he couldn’t reach any other way, or if he was wise to it from the start, and it’s only his readers who are ensnared by the end, astonished to find the audacity of their continuance sharply reflected back.

The Page Davidson Clayton Prize was established in 2009 by a gift from Meg and Mac Clayton in honor of Mac Clayton’s mother and in support of poetry and the development of new poets.

Lavers’s poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2015, Arts & Letters, 32 Poems, Georgia Review, Hudson Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, New Ohio Review, Tampa Review, and elsewhere. He is the winner of the 2016 University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize. He teaches poetry at Brigham Young University.

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