The University of Georgia Press is pleased to announce Chelsea Dingman as winner of the 2018 Georgia Poetry Prize. In partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, and the University of Georgia, the University of Georgia Press established the Georgia Poetry Prize in 2015 as a national competition that celebrates excellence in poetry.
The winner of the annual contest receives a cash award of $1,000, a publication contract with the University of Georgia Press, and invitations to read excerpts from the work at the three sponsoring institutions. The prize was established through the generous support of the Georgia and Bruce McEver Fund for the Arts and Environment at the University of Georgia Press. Dingman’s collection Through a Small Ghost is scheduled for publication by the University of Georgia Press in February 2020.
Chelsea Dingman is the author of Thaw (University of Georgia Press, 2017), which was selected by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series. She is also the author of the chapbook What Bodies Have I Moved (Madhouse Press, 2018). Dingman has served as a visiting instructor at the University of South Florida, teaching poetry and professional writing. She has won several prizes for her work, including the Southeast Review’s Gearhart Poetry Prize, the Sycamore Review’s Wabash Prize, Water-stone Review’s Jane Kenyon Poetry Prize, and the South Atlantic Modern Language Association’s Creative Writing Award for Poetry. Originally from British Columbia, Canada, Dingman currently resides in Tampa, Florida, with her husband and two young children.
“In Through a Small Ghost, Chelsea Dingman gives voice to the unspeakable—the fact of a stillborn child. These poems are fierce yet tender; in-your-face real yet full with imagination and wonder. Dingman checks all sentimentality at the door and approaches her subject with the grit of one intent on undoing damage and guilt, or at the very least finding a still point in the unfathomable.
The body. Forget the sound
She made leaving you. The folds
In her skin. You are a magician,
But every trick has its flaws. You are
Too young to make room for this
Grief. It’s summer again. . . .
The truth is, Dingman is a magician, and the trick? With these precise poems—stitched together with such a grand alchemy of word and image—she shows us in this landscape where ‘blame is the sparrow that thrusts itself [. . .] until it crushes its own skull’ that beauty is possible,” said Travis Denton, this year’s judge and author of My Stunt Double and When Pianos Fall from the Sky.
This year’s runner-up is Andrew Hemmert for Sawgrass Sky.
The finalists are Tracy Youngblom of Coon Rapids, Minnesota; Shannon Winston of Princeton, New Jersey; Desirée Alvarez of New York, New York; Diamond Forde of Tallahassee, Florida; Laura Kolbe of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts; Benjamin Dombroski of Savannah, Georgia; Amie Whittemore of Murfreesboro, Tennessee; and Pantea Tofangchi of Ellicott City, Maryland.
Interested parties for next year’s prize may consult the guidelines and submit their manuscripts online through Submittable between October 1 and November 30, 2020.