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About the Prize

In collaboration with Louisiana State University Press and Winthrop University, Pleiades Press publishes a book of poetry a year, as determined through the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize. Judges are poets of national prominence; screeners are also well-published poets. The contest is co-directed by Susan Ludvigson (at Winthrop) and Wayne Miller (at the University of Central Missouri). Winning books are printed in a run of 1,000 copies and distributed through Louisiana State University Press.

The judge for the 2014 Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize will be Alicia Ostriker. The deadline is November 15, 2013. Guidelines for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize are available here.

To order these books, contact LSU Press at 800.861.3477 or visit their website.

 


Didden Cover

The Glacier's Wake by Katy Didden, 2013

Selected by Melissa Kwasny for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize

"With precision and craft reminiscent of Bishop’s Questions of Travel, these are field notes for an earth alive and on the move. . . . Didden has both a mathematician’s and a poet’s mind, gauging her life against the larger processes, imagining how, in the days before electricity, 'you could mark your place in the universe / by how you fit / among the stars.'"—Melissa Kwasny

"Katy Didden’s remarkable first book is distinguished by a wide range of styles poem-to-poem, a dense aural texture as well as masterful use of rhyme generally, and heart. To say the poems have heart might seem surprising considering the Moore-like preponderance of cold scientific diction and Buntingesque physicality—or is it Loy she’s channeling? But Didden humanizes the elemental by making this kind of language sing . . ."—Elizabeth Arnold

"Didden’s is a capacious voice, able at once to deliver both wit and wonder, canny insight and meditative mystery. this is the approach to poetic vocation—a lush and laden lyric vividly voiced—that keeps me reading, and keeps me smiling as I do so."—Scott Cairns


Abigail Cloud

The 2013 Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize-winner is Abigail Cloud, of Bowling Green, Ohio.

The winning book, Sylph, will be published in April of 2014. Originally from Bath, Michigan, Ms. Cloud has published poems in Black Warrior Review, The Cincinnati Review, Copper Nickel, The Gettysburg Review, Quarterly West, & elsewhere. She is on the faculty at Bowling Green State University, where she is Editor-in-Chief of Mid-American Review.

Snider Cover

Paradise, Indiana by Bruce Snider, 2012

Selected by Alice Friman for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize

"What Snider reminds us in these achingly beautiful poems is that we can neither love nor hate the place from which we come. These places divide us 'like one of those snowy Indiana towns / with names like Paradise or Liberty.' These places remind us we are divided things, all of us divided to the very core." —C. Dale Young


Bombardier Cover

What's This, Bombardier? by Ryan Flaherty, 2011

Selected by Alan Michael Parker for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize

"Beneath the wit of these poems—and wit there is in dizzying plenty—there are sobering concerns, skeptical and philosophical quandaries that, almost as if by mistake, make themselves felt. . . . Source is, no doubt, the stake—'source' . . . this adhesive thing that is Flaherty's, given to us in unsparing generosity, in serious play—not source exactly, but resource inexactly, in poems that are 'brilliant / without all the fuss of brilliance.'" —Dan Beachy-Quick


Self-Portrait with Expletives Cover

Self-Portrait with Expletives by Kevin Clark, 2010

Selected by Martha Collins for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize

"Moving seamlessly between the sixties-to-mid-seventies and the present, between a sensuously lived life and a deep sense of mortality, Kevin Cark's poems perform the magic his passion dictates and his intelligence won't quite allow: an "open / closure, the kind that improvs its own end- / lessness." Lush with detail, rich with wisdom, filled with unforgettable people and held together with masterful syntax, these poems raise narrative poetry to a breathtaking new level of pleasure." —Martha Collins

 


Pacific Shooter Cover

Pacific Shooter by Susan Parr, 2009

Selected by Susan Mitchell for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize

"Pacific Shooter is a book of transformations as insubordinate and subversive as Ovid’s Metamorphoses—and with all the taste and twang of a new language. The bourgeois reader will hate it: there’s too much magic, too much genius, too much linguistic bliss." —Susan Mitchell


It was a terrible cloud at twilight by Alessandra Lynch, 2008

Selected by James Richardson for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize

"Some books sit down and talk to you: Alessandra Lynch’s It was a terrible cloud at twilight is a vision. You find yourself immediately in some vivid, chill season near the end of the world, maybe in the dark wood where the hardest of the fairy tales took place. Everywhere are signs, the ruins and promises of something momentous you somehow just missed or are about to encounter, and line after line there is a sight or phrase you would linger over…except that there, just ahead, is another just as fascinating. I envy and love this work for all it shows us how to feel and say. It was a terrible cloud at twilight is just about the strangest book I know that still makes perfect sense." —James Richardson


Compulsions of Silkworms & Bees by Julianna Baggott, 2007

Selected by Linda Bierds for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize

"Compulsions of Silkworms and Bees hums with attention to the act of creation. These poems are like watches that show their inner workings. . . . We see Poetry and Fiction (cast as sisters) presenting their different versions of events; an author’s elegy for an orphan poem; poetry as mother and poetry as lover. When Baggott writes, 'Everything is talking, / even the rooted irises tonguing air,'’ we want to be able to hear it too." —Matthea Harvey


Snow House by Brian Swann, 2006

Selected by John Koethe for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize

"Brian Swann’s poems have been whittled from the tree of life and the acuity of his imagination into shapes and stories lovely and wise. They are full of 'blades of light,' affirming the visible beauty and the invisible mysteries of our world. He is, as he says himself, 'dazed by the everyday.' I have not read a book of poems so reverent and so delicious for a long time." —Mary Oliver


Motherhouse by Kathleen Jesme, 2005

Selected by Thylias Moss for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize

"This remarkable book-length meditation is part memoir, part spiritual diary, but first and foremost, pure poem. Set in and submitted to the rigors of convent life, these lyrics shine with winter light. Jesme writes: 'my flexible voice / my ecstasy / I learn that prayer / is either silence / or song.' Few writers are as adept as she is at listening to both."—Elaine Equi


Lure by Nils Michals, 2004

Selected by Judy Jordan for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize

"Nils Michals has a marvelous knack for putting unexpected words in unexpected places—and for composing whole poems of such surprises. In these dense, rich lyric poems, he touches a wide range from the mythical to the quotidian with the same gleamingly precise sensibility. This is a striking collection that's not afraid of beauty or emotion—nor of the difficulties they have always presented to poetry." —Cole Swensen


The Green Girls by John Blair, 2003

Selected by Cornelius Eady for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize

"While art is never a wholly adequate antidote to sorrow, its consolations can be enormous, as they are in John Blair'’s beautifully nuanced and perceptive poems. Even as he leads us back through our own disenchantments, his ‘minor ecstasies of will’ remind us of all there is in the world to love. The Green Girls is luminous in its language, a collection that rewards the reader, as in the title poem, with 'whispers soaked / with the rooted strumming of trees, as light / and as muted as bare green bodies breathing in.'" —Susan Ludvigson


A Sacrificial Zinc by Matthew Cooperman, 2001

Selected by Susan Ludvigson for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize

"Colloquial, cerebral, and deeply felt, the poems in A Sacrificial Zinc are an absolutely compelling mix of formal adventurousness, dazzling diction, and good story . . . Matthew Cooperman is a very funny poet who is chronically interested and interesting. When he risks straightforward sweetness, he can also break your heart."—Maggie Anderson


The Light in Our Houses by Al Maginnes, 2000

Selected by Betty Adcock for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize

"This book dares to forego the heavy-handed irony and satiric wink that are so often the chief characteristics of newer poetry . . . Al Maginnes can be dark indeed, but his gaze is finally steady and straight ahead. He is aware, awake, amazed, and alive—all the things we want from a poet—and in language that ultimately blesses with the old lyric joy." —Betty Adcock


Strange Wood by Kevin Prufer, 1997

Selected by Andrea Hollander Budy for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize

"In poems remarkable for their unflinching wisdom, for a maturity of vision too rarely seen in a first book, Kevin Prufer reminds us of that space beyond lullaby, of the fragility of life in a world where 'everything's / the chance for flying / failing somehow,' and of loss as inevitable, the hardest truth of all--how 'the body blooms, unfolding, / then is gone.'" —Carl Phillips