I want to congratulate my Via Negativa co-blogger Luisa A. Igoria for winning the 2014 May Swenson Poetry Award. Her manuscript Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser was chosen by Mark Doty, a poet I greatly admire, from among 25 finalists — which had in turn been winnowed by preliminary readers from a field of nearly 700 entries. It will be published in hardcover, paperback and ebook later this year, with a preface from Mr. Doty.
Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser will be Luisa’s 15th full-length book of poetry, and her third (with The Saints of Streets and Night Willow, forthcoming from Phoenicia Publishing) to include poems from this website. Luisa estimates that about 75 percent of the poems in the book first saw light of day at Via Negativa. That includes the title poem.
Needless to say, this is another huge vindication for Luisa’s daily poem-writing practice. I hope it might encourage other poets to be a bit more open about sharing poems on blogs, as well, and to stop worrying that A) writing every day might mean compromising quality, or that B) regular online self-publishing might preclude other opportunities. Personally, I know I wouldn’t be writing either as much or as well without Luisa’s daily example as a guide and inspiration. I hope she’ll continue to share her work on Via Negativa as long as she is able.
If you’d like to study writing with Luisa and her colleagues—John McManus, Michael Pearson, Janet Peery, Sheri Reynolds, and Tim Seibles—at Old Dominion University, their MFA Creative Writing Program is currently accepting applications for next fall (deadline: March 1).