Thank you to these fine poets, to our selection committee and guest
judge, and to everyone who nominated poems or made a donation to
make this award possible. Due to your generosity and desire to
celebrate poets, we were able to award $1,000 this year, in memory
of Nina Riggs.

here to learn more about this award.
Congratulations to
winner of the 2021 Nina Riggs Poetry Award for
is poem "Blood History."

George David Clark
for "Ultrasound," published in The Hopkins Review

Camille Dungy
for "One to Watch, and One to Pray," published in Trophic Cascade
(Wesleyan University Press)

Benjamin S. Grossberg
for "As Are Right Fit," published in The Yale Review)
"Blood History" was published in a 2019 issue of The Paris Review
and appears in Felon (Norton, 2020).

here to read the poem and learn more about the winner.
A special thank you to our GUEST JUDGE, Maggie Smith, author
several books, including Keep Moving and the forthcoming poetry
collection, Goldenrod (both Simon & Schuster) writes:

"Family—starting one, or losing an integral part of one, or just being
in one—is dynamic, complicated, charged. “Domestic life” isn’t
synonymous with “quiet life.” “Blood History” is as much about
being a father of sons as it is about being a son who longed for a
father, and Betts makes language itself a place of inquiry in the
poem: longed and wanted, father and listen. Once you read this
poem, you’ll read it again, then three times. Before you know it, it’s
in you, part of you. And isn’t that just like family?"

2020 Winner:
Rachel Eliza Griffiths --"Good Mother" , published in Tin House, 2018.

Guest Judge, Maria Hummel, writes: "To read Rachel Eliza Griffiths'
"Good Mother" is to touch the live wire of a daughter's grief, as she
walks into a drugstore before Mother's Day, looking for a card to give
her lost mother. But Griffiths' real electric miracle is how she passes
on the maternal moment of grace that follows--wrapping the reader in
her dazzling imagery and long, hymn-like lines. Both an elegy and a
praise song to mothers everywhere, the ones who give birth to us and
the ones who step in to shepherd us through dark times, "Good
Mother" is a stunning, complex, and deeply moving poem."

2020 Honorable Mention:
Melissa Crowe -- "Dear Terror, Dear Splendor"

Guest Judge, Maria Hummel, writes: "Melissa Crowe's "Dear Terror,
Dear Splendor" is structurally brilliant: a letter composed directly to
the pain and joy of motherhood, on the eve of her daughter's learning
to drive. There's a devastating precision to Crowe's lines, in the
repetition of the sound "or" in her title words and her slow, tense
advance into a night shadowed by future partings. Even among the
many skillfully crafted finalist poems, "Dear Terror, Dear Splendor"
was a standout."

2020 Finalists:

Traci Brimhall, "Oh, Wonder"
Tiana Clark, "A Louder Thing"
Carrie Fountain, "Will You?"
Keetje Kuipers, "Still Life with Small Objects of Perfect Choking Size"
Megan Peak, "What I Don't Tell My Mother about Ohio"
Thomas Reiter, "Companions"
Anna Ross, "One Time"
Molly Spencer, "A Wooing, Outright, of My Beloved Ones"

Arao Ameny, "Home Is a Woman"
Dorothy Chan, "So Chinese Girl"
Beth Gordon, "In Which I Compare My Children to the Apocalypse on a
Friday Night
reer Gurland, "Why Am I Pacing the Kitchen Now?"
onald Levering, "My Only Son--Relapse"
kwudili Nebeolisa, "After Living with Him"
ynne Thompson, "She talk like this 'cause me Mum born elsewhere, say"
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