22nd Annual Hamilton Literary Awards: Poetry Finalists
Stephen Near

This is the first in a four part blog series showcasing the finalists of this year's 22nd Annual Hamilton Literary Awards. Find out which authors will take home the prizes by attending the gala celebration on Dec. 08, 2015 at Theatre Aquarius.

Hamilton is a city that abounds in poets, and this year's finalists speak to the diversity and strength of the poetry being written in our city. From Skinny-Dipping with the Muse by Ellen S. Jaffe, Moon Baboon Canoe by Gary Barwin, and Steeltown for Mary by Martin Durkin, these books move from the conversational to the surreal and blur the boundaries between genres.

Ellen S. Jaffe’s four-part collection Skinny-Dipping with the Muse is a remarkable exploration of the vulnerability and power of poetry. In an undeniably feminine voice, she tracks the pain and triumphs of childhood, family, and writing itself, inviting the reader to reconsider the intimacies and wonders of everyday life and creativity. Jaffe’s lines are both fluid and sharp, warm and jarring, but always insightful as she delves into the complex relationship between language and experience. 

In Moon Baboon Canoe we once again see the razor wit, innovation, and sensitivity characteristic of Gary Barwin. His newest collection will challenge and entertain readers, bringing equal depth to topics as universal as time and those as intimate as the life of a squirrel. His quirky, minimalist lines are refreshing, attentive, and all the more powerful for their sparseness. In them, Barwin questions the very way we see ourselves and our world, giving readers a new set of glasses from beginning to end. 

SteelTown for Mary, Memoirs From a Dick by Martin Durkin is an entirely unique work following the life and memories of a Hamilton detective. With a gritty yet endearing tone, Durkin combines the best of poetry, narrative, mystery, and romance to paint a detailed portrait of both character and setting. It is a tale of grief, discovery, and moving forward, but ultimately a tale of the heart and the home.

This year's Award for Poetry is sponsored by:

Next: the finalists for Non-Fiction