Oberlin College Press is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2017 FIELD Poetry Prize is James Haug of Northampton, Massachusetts. In addition to receiving the prize of $1000, his prize-winning manuscript, Riverain, will be published in the FIELD Poetry Series in the spring of 2018.

The FIELD Prize was judged by the editors of the Press, David Young and David Walker. "FIELD and OC Press have long championed the prose poem," Walker said, "and yet we know it’s a very difficult form to get right. Even harder is to sustain a reader’s interest through a whole volume of prose poems, which can easily start to seem flat and repetitive. We’ve been fortunate enough to publish some stellar books of prose poems over the years, including Russell Edson’s The Tunnel, Beckian Fritz Goldberg’s Egypt from Space, and the first and final sections of last year’s prize-winner, Jeffrey Skinner’s Chance Divine. We’re thrilled to award this year’s prize to a masterful addition to that list. James Haug’s Riverain is a delight from start to finish: from the deadpan pastoral of ‘Cows Are a Good Idea’ to quizzical fables like ‘Silent River,’ from dreamlike meditations such as ‘First It Didn’t Sound Like’ to tender parables like ‘Fraught with Sudden Appearances,’ this collection is mysterious, hilarious, and utterly unpredictable. We will be delighted to publish it."

James Haug’s previous poetry collections include Legend of the Recent Past, Walking Liberty, and The Stolen Car, as well as the chapbooks Scratch and Why I Like Chapbooks. He is a Visiting Lecturer in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts—Amherst, and serves as an editor for UMass Press’s Juniper Poetry Prize.

Previous Winners

(Click on covers for further information)

Chance Divine

Jeffrey Skinner
Winner of the 2016 FIELD Poetry Prize

"Jeffrey Skinner has a metaphysical thirst so large and fierce and energetic that it can only slake itself in the ocean of language. And that is what it does in these amazing poems, which are amazing both for their complexity and sophistication and their buoyant clarity and immediacy."
Vijay Seshadri

Blood Hyphen

Kenny Williams
Winner of the 2015 FIELD Poetry Prize

"The poems in Blood Hyphen may seem plainspoken and, in moments, surreal—but they are also deeply intelligent, rhetorically sophisticated, and imbued with theological anxiety and existential wit. This is a terrific first book."
Kevin Prufer

Some Slow Bees

Carol Potter
Winner of the 2014 FIELD Poetry Prize

"With what verve and formal acuity Carol Potter puts us right in the welter of the world. Her tales in Some Slow Bees are told with such speed everything unnecessary falls away and what's left is pure honey—with the sting of revelation. The language is exuberant and exacting at once, like a scalpel sprouting feathers."
Betsy Sholl



Deep Snow Country

Bern Mulvey
Winner of the 2013 FIELD Poetry Prize

"At times elegiac, at times bitterly funny, these poems are held together by Mulvey's rigorous technique, his moral vision, and a belief that art might help us assimilate loss and transform even the most dreadful experience into something valuable and lasting."
Steve Gehrke

My Life in Heaven

Mary Ann Samyn
Winner of the 2012 FIELD Poetry Prize

"Observation, insight, tenderness, and humor accompany the poet and her readers from heartbreak-unto-death to afterlife-on-earth in this book. I rejoice in its misery, its finery, its charm, and its wisdom." 
Kathy Fagan

Beasts of the Hill

Mark Neely
Winner of the 2011 FIELD Poetry Prize

"Mark Neely works in small spaces where the slightest moves have seismic consequences. The acoustics are sensational, and the modest and laconic gestures of the poems are also vehicles for the flights and fugues of a 'glorious attack.' Neely has the chops and the voice to sing the blues."
--Bruce Smith


The Goodbye Town

Timothy O'Keefe
Winner of the 2010 FIELD Poetry Prize

"O’Keefe’s poems are not Time, but another thing that flies—grace, soul, fleeting love, the furious imagination of a poet so attendant to his art as to be contemporary without simply resorting to novelty. Here are poems that vary the existing patterns without abandoning them, that engage sensation without being simply sensational, that elegize the province of what is foregone without being elegies."
--D. A. Powell


The Sleep Hotel

Amy Newlove Schroeder
Winner of the 2009 FIELD Poetry Prize

"Amy Schroeder's The Sleep Hotel is a breathtaking debut. Elliptical, elegant, and gestural, these poems exhibit an intellectual acuity and a passionate discretion that consistently surprise and delight. Always lyrically inventive, Amy Schroeder has done nothing less than provide us with a new, ultra-contemporary poetic music for the meditations of the imagination and the heart."
--David St. John

Kurosawa's Dog

Dennis Hinrichsen
Winner of the 2008 FIELD Poetry Prize

"The poems in this collection--born out of father and Iowa and desert, born out of the burning and visionary places--possess a gravitational pull so powerful I can feel the great bards of the language (Dickinson, Stevens, Bishop) craning over my shoulder to read."
--John Rybicki

Meaning a Cloud

J. W. Marshall
Winner of the 2007 FIELD Poetry Prize

"Watchful, ruefully comic, alight with playful lyric precision and a plainspoken rhetorical elegance, Meaning a Cloud is not only a record of one body's recovery from injury but a rendering of the mind's companion journey: pained, stubbornly amused, at last arriving at a state of visionary completion."
--Susan Hutton

Red Studio

Mary Cornish
Winner of the 2006 FIELD Poetry Prize

"As the painters once used the broken yolks of eggs, the rocks, and the earth itself to make their colors, so Mary Cornish has made these miraculous poems: so intelligently wrought the page disappears, so gorgeous I stand and stare. At the core of each is human life, fiercely known and loved and endured. These are the poems of a radiantly alive adult woman."
--Marie Howe



Jean Gallagher
Winner of the 2005 FIELD Poetry Prize

"Jean Gallagher majestically conducts a history of approaches to the sacred in Christian art, scripture, mysticism, theology. She rewrites the Bible as she re-sees the 'gravities, necessities, haphazard plots' behind the frozen sacramental moments of religious art. In a sequence here based on a Duccio altarpiece a bewildered apostle experiences the resurrected Christ 'like a language / I don't know ... and there's never been an alphabet for it, ever.' Now--because of Jean Gallagher's splendid experiment--there is."
--Bruce Beasley

Lie Awake Lake

Beckian Fritz Goldberg
Winner of the 2004 FIELD Poetry Prize

"Lie Awake Lake is made out of a brilliance of thought, of heart, and of language that we find only in the truest poetry. This fierce homage to the body and to the spirit reminds me of Ettie Hillesum's letters from the transit camp at Westerbork in the Netherlands in 1942-43; it is as relentless and unmediated as if it was letters or diaries, but it is song--come to give us human animals pleasure and to help us endure."
--Jean Valentine



Jonah Winter
Winner of the 2003 FIELD Poetry Prize

"Jonah Winter resides in the Hotel Amnesia, the Hotel of Stars--and though he's a comedian, his room is one along the corridor of the wistful, urbane dreamers: Joseph Cornell, Jean Cocteau. Anais Nin, Charles Simic. At the heart of his method is the list, almost verbless: his marvelous catalogues place unlikely things side by side, creating within the frame of the poem the tantalizing windows of the city of dream."
--Mark Doty



The Lightning Field

Carol Moldaw
Winner of the 2002 FIELD Poetry Prize

In her third collection, Carol Moldaw explores new territory in poems that are thematically far-reaching and technically superb. The book includes three long sequences based on art and artifact in various stages of completeness: preliminary pen-and-ink studies, Turkish ruins, and, at the center, the site-specific art installation that gives the book its title and impetus. Attracting charged material as a lightning field attracts lightning, the poems reference narrative but move beneath and beyond it through a restless and rewarding insistence on making and remaking, on seeing by degrees and seeing whole.




Angie Estes
Winner of the 2001 FIELD Poetry Prize

"Angie Estes' stunning new collection of poems is a brilliant and intellectually dazzling investigation of the often unstable relationship between language and experience. These heart-breaking and inventive poems negotiate the oscillations of event and memory in order to reveal the delicate and highly filigreed interweaving--in our lives--of action, meditation, and utterance. Beauty and insight spill off every page of this rich, compelling, and essential new book of poetry."
--David St. John



Ghost Notes

Ralph Burns
Winner of the 2000 FIELD Poetry Prize

In his deeply innovative and beautifully human Ghost Notes, Ralph Burns explores the vivid relation between American jazz and American poetry. His book embodies the movement of jazz. In the long title poem he plays wide open, without a mute, as Red Allen advises. The result is inclusive and exhilarating, a structure that keeps on opening and opening.





Timothy Kelly
Winner of the 1999 FIELD Poetry Prize

Timothy Kelly grew up in Cleveland and contemplated careers in medicine and rock music before settling on his double vocation as poet and physical therapist, based in Olympia, Washington. He writes about his work, his family, his memories of growing up, and the natural area in which he lives and often hikes. The human body, in all its manifestations and meanings, forms the natural center of his poetic vision.



A Saturday Night at the Flying Dog

Marcia Southwick
Winner of the 1998 FIELD Poetry Prize

High-spirited and unpredictable, Marcia Southwick's third collection is, among other things, a remarkable mirror of our place and time. With unrelenting curiosity and brio, she reflects our materialistic, shopping-obsessed, informationally-exploding, and deeply confused culture right back at us, showing us the world we live in with unflinching honesty and compassionate affection.


Vanitas Motel

Jon Loomis
Winner of the 1997 FIELD Poetry Prize

Things happen in Vanitas Motel: a funeral, a fistfight, an outburst at a poetry reading. Its poems are surreal parables, at once funny and dark, sensual and deeply serious. Their revealed subjects are loss, art, illness, and desire.

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FIELD Poetry Prize

Information about our annual poetry book contest.

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