The 2014 Uppercut Chapbook Award Results

Phew! What a contest. So much work, fun and heartbreak all rolled into one. But, as is the case with every contest, entries were narrowed down. For the Uppercut Awards, we trimmed 110 entries down to 12 finalists. Below, we are pleased to announce our winners with a selection from their winning book followed by a list of the additional finalists. So, without further ado, here are the results. 

 

FIRST PLACE:

The Bear Who Ate the Stars by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach

Carpenter - Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach
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CARPENTER

 

Sometimes I worry

about resilience – the body’s

 

or even just the hands’. Yours,

which press wood

 

between heavy palms, are coarser

than the firmest working man’s.

 

Do they make hands

strong enough to bear the weight

 

of human nature, of the hours

in the longest day?

 

And if your lungs

are so laden with saw dust

 

that each exhale smells of cedar

and echoes its breaking and mending,

 

what are your hands made of then

that they can keep the weighted body

 

coming home, day after day, the snap

of a trunk still fixed

 

to your breath?

The same crack and fracture

 

hidden in your sturdy fingers,

that faint resilience

 

you are so sure of –

until I lean on your shoulder

 

and it breaks: an ageless tree

left armless

 

by a summer swallow’s soft landing.

RUNNER UP:

Ice Children by Ed Harkness

Ash - Ed Harkness
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ASH

 

That small word came to you by some odd

synaptic path. A meteoroid skipped off

your atmosphere, some bit of stellar shrapnel

from so far away “far away” means nothing.

 

It might have been the thread of fire

just over the ridge, caught in the corner

of your jaded eye, extinguished

by the time you grabbed its tail.

 

That led to other kinds of flare-ups:

a conflagration of roses out back,

bursting overnight, gaudy and heartbreaking

for reasons reasonable to you alone.

 

You were there. By Wednesday

they had fallen, one brown petal after another,

like burnt potato chips on the lawn.

Like ash. Then there was the heat you felt

 

at thirteen, lying on the dock,

nettles of lake water pricking your back.

You still see, under your splayed elbow,

through wet lashes, a prismatic world. 

 

You still see the down on her arm, small

swellings through her thin green suit

pressed against the boards.

That’s when, as night fell, you understood

 

the ache of life. She grabbed your wrist. Wow,

she said. Shooting star. You missed it. Years travel

quicker than tonight's grain of iron sparking

off the ridge. Her name – Meredith – streaks back

 

with the plash of ducks paddling in the dark.

She’s that half-second flash of fire returned

from space deep in your aging brain, rendered,

as she has surely ended, as you will end, as ash.

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach came to the United States as a Jewish refugee in 1993, from Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon and is currently a Benjamin Franklin Fellow in the University of Pennsylvania’s Comparative Literature Ph.D. program. For her poetry, Julia has been awarded Lilith Magazine’s 2013 Charlotte A. Newberger Poetry Prize and the 2014 William Carlos Williams prize from the Academy of American Poets. Her poetry is forthcoming from Tupelo Quarterly and has most recently appeared Nashville Review, Guernica, and JMMW, among other journals, and Julia is the Editor of Construction Magazine

Ed Harkness is the author of two full-length collections of poems, Saying the Necessary, 2000, and Beautiful Passing Lives, 2010, both from Pleasure Boat Studio press. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana, where he studied with poets Richard Hugo and Madeline DeFrees. His poems have appeared in print and online journals, including Fine Madness, Great River Review, The Humanist, The Louisville Review, Midwest Quarterly, Mudlark, Switched-On Gutenberg, and The Salt River Review. He lives with his wife, Linda, in Shoreline, Washington.

FINALISTS

 

County Fair Grab Bag by Scott Silsbe

 

Rhizoma by Erica Hoffmeister

 

Timberland by Jim Davis

 

The Skinned Bird by Chelsea Biondolillo

 

A Small Pressure by Kara Vernor

 

Love and Sundries by Nicholas Reading

 

The Cube and Other Flashlings by Robin Thorne

 

Pretty Names for Prison by Kevin McGowan

 

His Winter Beast by Andrew Gottlieb

 

Desert Sacrament by Cody Deitz