Howling Bird Press has awarded the 2018 poetry prize to Simples by KateLynn Hibbard of St. Paul, Minnesota. The press will publish the book in November 2018, and Hibbard receives a $1,000 prize. Hibbard’s work was chosen in a national competition among more than one-hundred submissions.
Hibbard based Simples on extensive research into the history of women’s experiences on the American prairie during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Simples uses free verse and poetic form and persona to examine the lives of settlers and indigenous women against the backdrop of the Great Plains, with close attention to flora and fauna as well as the goods and materials of daily life. This unblinking look at a historical moment examines hardships both endured and inflicted.
“I started to get in touch with the fact that women’s voices and women’s experiences in this period of history and really in all periods of history have not been voiced as much as I think they should be,” Hibbard says. In Simples, she invites readers to experience the historical struggles of women in a way that is much more accessible than a textbook account.
KateLynn Hibbard’s first book of poems, Sleeping Upside Down, won the Gerald Cable Book Award and was published by Silverfish Review Press in March 2006. Her second book, Sweet Weight, came from Tiger Bark Press in 2012. She edited the anthology When We Become Weavers: Queer Female Poets on the Midwestern Experience for Squares and Rebels Press. Hibbard is a professor at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, where she teaches creative writing, composition, and women’s studies. She earned her MFA from the University of Oregon and her MA in Women’s History from the University of Madison. Her awards include the Gerald Cable Book Award, the Astraea Foundation’s Lesbian Writing Finalist Award, a McKnight Artist Fellowship in Poetry, two Minnesota State Arts Board Initiative Grants, a Jerome Foundation Travel Grant, and residencies at Hedgebrook and the Cornucopia Arts Council.
Augsburg University’s student-run Howling Bird Press issues a nationwide call for submissions on an annual basis. Prior to awarding the 2018 Howling Bird Prize to Hibbard, Howling Bird’s editorial board reviewed over 130 manuscripts submitted by writers at all levels of expertise, from beginning poets to well-established authors. Each manuscript was fully read and carefully considered, and the editorial board engaged in extensive discussion about the submissions with Creative Writing faculty members who are also published authors before selecting the winner. Simples was one of five finalists, and the others are:
- The Window, Which Cannot Help But Take Sides, by Jeanne Wagner, of Kensington, California
- A Quarrel of Atoms, by Kathy Ackerman, of Rutherfordton, North Carolina
- Bone Loss, by Kathryn Gullickson, of Northridge, California
- Weather and Other Important Topics, by Carolyn Schueller, of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota
Howling Bird Press publisher Jim Cihlar said, “We had more than 130 manuscripts submitted to our contest, from writers all over the country, many with previously published books and journal credits. With so much impressive material, it was challenging to narrow down our selection to the five finalists, and then choose a winner. We were honored that so many writers entrusted us with their work, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to read and consider it.”