The University of Georgia Press is pleased to announce Leah Nieboer as the winner of the
2021 Georgia Poetry Prize. In partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology 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. This year’s runner-up is
Matthew Minicucci’s “American Etymologies.”
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 two 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. Nieboer’s
collection Soft Apocalypse will be published by the University of Georgia Press in March 2023.
Leah Nieboer (she/her) grew up in Iowa and is a graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program
for Writers. She is now a PhD candidate in English at the University of Denver. She is also the
recipient of a Virginia Center for Creative Arts Fellowship and a mixed-genre finalist for the
2020 Barbara Deming / Money for Women Grants.
Nieboer’s first manuscript, “Sunshot Runaway,” was recently long-listed for the Idaho Prize for
Poetry and was named a semifinalist for the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry. Her work
has appeared in Interim, American Poetry Journal, Ghost Proposal, and other publications.
“Dancing inside ‘the discoed light’ of our late, lurid century, Leah Nieboer adroitly imbricates
the private and political, minor events with macro catastrophe. At once ascetic and raptured by
excess, Soft Apocalypse auditions social, civic, and erotic relationships that aspire to redress the
alienations inflicted by capitalism. Set somewhere between Oklahoma and Ophiuchus, this
‘triple-X rock opera’ is scored to an ultraviolet dream stream and an ‘EKG going off.’ Its frayed-
wire lyrics, neo-noir prose, and exquisite sequencing are cut with an X-Acto knife fused with
acetylene. Conversing with Lispector, Weil, and other intimate strangers, Nieboer accompanies
us toward a future where, if we’re unlikely lucky, ‘a wreck becomes an opening,’” said this
year’s judge Andrew Zawacki, author of Unsun: f/11 and Videotape.
This year’s finalists are Diego Báez, of Chicago, Illinois; Jared Hayley, of Long Island, New
York; Kelly Hoffer, of Ithaca, New York; Dana Jaye, of Brooklyn, New York; Jordan
Windholtz, of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania; and Angelique Zobitz, of Chicago, Illinois.