The Center for Book Arts Presents the Winners of the
 2020 Chapbook Contest

The Center for Book Arts Chapbook Contest awards the winning manuscript with the publication of a beautifully designed, letterpress-printed, limited-edition chapbook printed and bound by artists at the Center for Book Arts. The edition is limited to 100 signed and numbered copies, which will be offered for sale through the Center. The winning poet will also receive a cash award, as well as an exclusive opportunity for a week-long stay at the Millay Colony for the Arts in Austerlitz, New York as one of their Winter Shakers. The runners up are awarded with a limited edition broadside print of a poem from their manuscript.
The judge for the 2020 Chapbook Contest was Raquel Salas Rivera , a Puerto Rican poet, translator, and editor. In 2010, he won First and Second Place for Poetry in the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico’s Sixteenth Literary Contest, as well as First Place in the University of Puerto Rico’s Queer Literature Contest. From 2016-2018, he coedited the literary journal The Wanderer . In 2017, he coedited a series of bilingual broadsides of contemporary Puerto Rican poets, which were later collected in the Puerto Rico en mi corazón anthology (Anomalous Press, 2019). In 2018, he was named the Poet Laureate of Philadelphia for a two-year term. The following year he became the inaugural recipient of the Laureate Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets and won the New Voices Award from Puerto Rico’s Festival de la Palabra. He has also received fellowships and residencies from the Sundance Institute, the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, the Arizona Poetry Center, the MacDowell Colony, and CantoMundo. He is the author of seven chapbooks and five full-length poetry books. His first two books, Caneca de anhelos turbios (Editora Educación Emergente, 2011) and tierra intermitente/intermittent land (Ediciones Alayubia, 2017), were published in Puerto Rico. His third book, lo terciario/the tertiary (2nd ed., Noemi Press, 2019), was on the 2018 National Book Award Longlist and won the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry. His fourth book, while they sleep (under the bed is another country) , was published by Birds, LLC in 2019 and was on the 2020 Pen America Open Book Award Longlist. His fifth book, x/ex/exis: poemas para la nación/ poems for the nation was the first recipient of the Ambroggio Prize (Editorial Bilingüe/ Bilingual Press, 2020). Alongside Claire Jiménez and Ricardo Maldonado, and with the help of a 2020 University of Houston and Arte Publico Press USLDH Grant-In-Aid, he is currently working on creating a digital archive of Puerto Rican poetry. He received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory from the University of Pennsylvania and now lives, writes, and teaches in Puerto Rico.
His manuscript entitled ceniza cañaveral y otros productos (reedbed ash and other products) will be designed and produced by book artist Aurora De Armendi.

We’re grateful to the round 1 screeners for the 2020 Chapbook Contest:
Ariel Francisco Henriquez, Ryah Aqel, and Madeleine Mori .
The winner of the chapbook contest is Katerina Isabel Ramos-Jordán , a cross-disciplinary poet, born and raised in San Juan, P.R. She uses verse, dance, and media to explore the intersections between colonialism, ecology, and embodiment. She has been published in the poetic anthology Puerto Rico en mi corazón (Anomalous Press 2019). Ramos-Jordán is currently a Mellon Undergraduate Fellow and a Beinecke Scholar at Wesleyan University, where she is finishing her undergrad degree in English and Dance with a concentration in Caribbean Studies. Her chapbook is entitled ECHOESISTEMAS /lentos cerramientos .

Note from the judge: ECHOESISTEMAS /lentos cerramientos embraces Édouard Glissant's invitation that we conceptualize Caribbean affect through the rhizomatic mangrove and expands it by creating a poetic eco/e/sistema. The "e" is the echo that both ends and begins the sign. Its silence at the end of "echo" prefaces "sistemas," echoing the tendency in Caribbean diasporic Spanish to add an "e" to English words that begin with "s." This is the slowness or lentitud that characterizes linguistic disclosure and seeps into the other's language as reverberation. To learn oneself through another's reading is to answer back differently, forming "duplications/ within." The poems "keep/ reaching" in ways that are both generative and burdensome. The root becomes mangrove, mediated by sea and land with the porosity of port/puerto/porto "propio de países tropicales/ own of Tropical topics." This collection is dense in its tenderness, adding tildes (accent marks) to words in English, harboring dialect, and embracing blank space as cavernous. Its rootless branches continue to sound off long after and before origin.

Ramos-Jordán’s chapbook will be designed and produced by book artist Erika Morillo.
The 2020 Chapbook Contest is also pleased to honor two runners up:
Emily Bludworth de Barrios & Rushi Vyas
Emily Bludworth de Barrios is the author of Splendor, a book of poems. She's also published two chapbooks: Women, Money, Children, Ghosts (Sixth Finch 2016), and Extraordinary Power (Factory Hollow Press 2014). Her poems have appeared in publications such as jubilat, The Poetry Review, The Harvard Review, Columbia Journal, Gulf Coast, Sixth Finch, and Tender. Emily was born in Houston and raised in Egypt, the United States, and Venezuela; she currently lives in Houston with her husband and three children, with impending plans to relocate to Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Note from the judge : In Block Letters Emblazoning Poster Board with Their Thoughts maps the topography of violence. Its language is a site of both spectacularization and luminosity. Its "nuestro" is nuestra guerra diaria, survival as world-making. The poet writes, "There could be war, all of a sudden/ In a country/ far away/ Where the people I love are moving/ in smalls streams through their houses." The collection also moves in smalls streams despite and against war, not in its specificity, but in its incremental constancy. The poem offers a radical intimacy that allows itself and sometimes allows us more than just existence.

Bludworth de Barrios’ broadside will be designed and produced by Claudia Kaatziza Cortínez .
Rushi Vyas is an American poet of Indian origin living in Aotearoa/New Zealand. His first manuscript, When I Reach For Your Pulse, is a two-time Finalist for the National Poetry Series. His first chapbook, Physics from the Scaffold, was named Runner-Up for the 2020 Center for Book Arts Chapbook Contest. Recent poems have featured in Adroit, The Offing, Tin House, 32 Poems, Redivider, Waxwing, Boulevard, AQR, Landfall (NZ), and elsewhere. He is currently a PhD student in Literature at Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo where he is writing a creative/critical project on bewilderment, relationality, and ecstasy in the poetics of walking.

Note from the judge : PHYSICS FROM THE SCAFFOLD refuses to beautify the seemingly private act of suicide and renames it execution. The history of the scaffold is simultaneously the history of enclosure, of the silencing that scaffolds family, class, and nation. The poet seeks to "excise the tongues that strangle a family," to create a call, which cuts through the rigidity of a pained structure. He repeatedly asks the same questions, each iteration slightly different, as if breathing backwards in order to reimagine the present. 

Vyas’ broadside will be designed and produced by Amber McMillan Braverman .
The accompanying reading for the 2020 Chapbook Contest will take place on October 22nd, 2020 at The Center For Book Arts.
Registration link to come.

The 2021 Chapbook Contest will be judged by Cecilia Vicuña, and applications will be open September 1st through December 15th, 2020.
The Center for Book Arts promotes active explorations of both contemporary and traditional artistic practices related to the book as an art object. The Center seeks to facilitate communication between the book arts community and the larger spheres of contemporary visual and literary arts, while being a model organization locally, nationally, and internationally within the field.
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