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STEVENS MANUSCRIPT COMPETITION WINNERS 

Each year NFSPS sponsors a manuscript competition for collections of poetry.  The deadline is October 1.  For additional details see Manuscript Contest.  These prize-winning collections from the past may be ordered from for the prices listed.  Add to the price of the book/s mailing costs of $2.00 for the first book and $.50 for each additional book.  Make checks payable to NFSPS.

Polly Opsahl
7316 Huntington
Oscoda, MI 48750

Here are the books that are available;
you can download and print the order form here.
 

A Landscape of Loss, by Erin Rodoni
(NFSPS, 2017)
$15 plus postage if ordered from Polly Opsahl at the address above. Questions may be directed to Polly Opsahl

 Rodoni's husband had an internship in Vietnam, so Rodoni wrote most of the poems in Ho Chi Minh City while her three-year-old napped. Judge Tony Barnstone, Professor of English at Whittier College and author of 18 books, says the book "is filled with exhibits and atrocities and elegies, but also . . . grace . . . that swells, pregnant, with hope. It I an amazing book, one that shows us how much can still be gained from a landscape of loss."

Rodoni holds a BA from UC Berkeley and an MFA from San Diego State. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two young daughters.


      

MIDNIGHT RIVER, by Laura Hansen
(NFSPS, 2016)
$15 plus postage if ordered from Polly Opsahl at the address above. Questions may be directed to Polly Opsahl

Laura Hansen has worked as an Administrative Manager, Export Control Officer, Bookseller, Small Business Owner, Retail Sales Associate, and Librarian. Hansen owned and operated Bookin' It, an Independent Bookstore, for over twenty years. She is a 1979 Summa Cum Laude graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. Laura grew up on the banks of the Mississippi River in Central Minnesota where she developed a love of water, water sports, and boating. From an early age Ms. Hansen displayed a fascination with words and an affinity for reading. In her thirties, Hansen began a correspondence with poet and mentor Tom McKeown which lasted many years and led to her self-publishing a series of poetry chapbooks. Laura's writing has also appeared in regional literary journals and magazines as well as in the anthologies What the Heart Knows (Holy Cow Press) and Fog and Woodsmoke (Lost Hills Books). In addition, her poems have aired on The Story with Dick Gordon (National Public Radio), The Beat (Northland Community Radio) and Lakeland Public Television. Laura Hansen has twice been awarded Individual Arts Grants from the Five Wings Arts Council and is the Winner of the 2015 Stevens Poetry Manuscript Competition.


      

BEAST, by Mara Adamitz Scrupe
(NFSPS, 2015)
$15 plus postage if ordered from Polly Opsahl at the address above. Questions may be directed to Polly Opsahl

This is the first book of poetry by a poet who is also an accomplished visual artist. Mara Adamitz Scrupe holds the position of Professor of Interdisciplinary Fine Arts at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. In selecting BEAST for the Stevens Award, 2014 Judge John Witte noted that it contains poems in which we recognize "the halting and swerving of our lives," "the incongruous clutter of our days." Jacquelyn Mitchard similarly describes Scrupe's poetry as "fierce, fragile, reticent, and unrelenting." Enda Coyle-Greene notes that "poem after poem turns a questioning, lively, and emotionally honest eye on how we 'pass our days,'" and describes the sequencing of poems in BEAST is "both intelligent and instinctive."

 


      

Breaking Weather, by Betsy Hughes
(NFSPS Press, 2014)
$15 plus postage if ordered from Polly Opsahl at the address above. Questions may be directed to Polly Opsahl

This book is a collection of sonnets by a poet whom the 2013 Stevens Competition judge, Glenna Holloway, describes as "a master sonneteer." However, as Holloway indicates, their interest lies as much in their content as in the handling of the form. "Here," says David Lee .Garrison, "are sonnets on the seasons of the year, emotions, mythological figures, the arts, the end of life, and much more. ... Breaking Weather bears witness to a life lived deeply, to the poet's keen eye for detail and her joyful embrace of the world." Retired from 30 years of teaching at the Miami Valley School in Ohio, Betsy Hughes has continued to convey her passion for poetry through moderating courses in literature and creative writing for the University of Dayton Lifelong Learning Institute. Her poems have appeared in various Ohio Poetry Association publications and in literary journals.


      

 
Full Cry by, Lisa Ampleman
(Rochester Hills, MI: NFSPS Press, 2013).
$15 plus postage if ordered from Polly Opsahl at the address above. Questions may be directed to Polly Opsahl

This is the second prize-winning poetry collection by Ohio poet Lisa Ampleman. She is also the author of I've Been Collecting This to Tell You (Kent State 2012), winner of the 2010 Wick Poetry Chapbook Award. Her poems also appear in Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Cave Wall, Cimarron Review, Court Green, and Notre Dame Review, among other periodicals. She holds an MFA from George Mason University and, since winning the Stevens Competition, has received her Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati. In selecting Full Cry for the 2012 Stevens Award, the judge, Maggie Anderson, notes that it "is primarily the story of a love relationship that didn't work out as planned." While that story "is a familiar one," Anderson comments, "the language---a canny mix of high and low diction---and the intricate rhythms that emerge from the narrative give this tale a compelling particularity."


      

Good Reason, by Jennifer Habel
(Rochester Hills, MI: NFSPS Press, 2012).
$10 plus postage if ordered from Polly Opsahl at the address above. Questions may be directed to Polly Opsahl

This is Habel's first full-length book of poetry. Good Reason centers on the life of a young mother through a series of tightly wrought, emotionally restless lyrics. There is a compelling arc to the whole collection, but each lyric also stands on its own for its poignancy and freshness. Habel's earlier work has appeared in numerous journals, and her chapbook, In the Little House, was the winner of the 2008 Copperdome Prize. A graduate of the Writing Program at UNC Greensboro, she has taught at American University, Colorado College, Radford University, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She now makes her home in Cincinnati, where she is serving as Coordinator of Fiction Writing at the University of Cincinnati.

 


      

Lines from the Surgeon's Children, 1862-1865, by Rawdon Tomlinson
(Rochester Hills, MI: NFSPS Press, 2011).
$10.00 plus postage if ordered from Polly Opsahl at the address above. Questions may be directed to Polly Opsahl

This book, Tomlinson's third full-length collection, joins his distinguished work in Geronimo After Kas-ki-yeh (LSU Press 2007) and Deep Red, which won the Colorado Book Award for Poetry in 1995. The judge for the 2010 Stevens Competition, Lola Haskins, author of Desire Lines, Not Feathers Yet, and a dozen other volumes, says of her choice for the award, "Lines presents the experiences of the Civil War via the letters and journals of a Texas regiment . . . Tomlinson has observed his world in such convincing detail that when we close the book, we feel that . . . we must have been there." R. T. Smith, long-time editor of Shenandoah, has this praise for the book: "Not since Andrew Hudgins's After the Lost War has a poet given us such a sustained, disturbing and dynamic portrait of men snarled in the horrors of the American Civil War. Rawdon Tomlinson renders the pandemonium of war and its strident silences as they echo from Red River and Atlanta to Fallujah, and his soldier narrators resound with authenticity. Like musket fire, these poems will leave your ears ringing."


      

Come In, We Open, by Sara Ries
(Rochester Hills, MI: NFSPS Press, 2010).
$10 plus postage if ordered from Polly Opsahl at the address above.
Questions may be directed to Polly Opsahl

This first book by an exciting young poet draws us into the world of a diner in a working-class neighborhood and tenderly evokes its regulars--blue-collar workers, doing long hours or laid off--and its owners, the poet's grill-scraping father and manically chattering mother, who, as we learn in the first poem, bought it in 1984 partly because it was red. "Once across the threshold," writes poet Ralph Burns, "we sit down to strong coffee and such panorama that we stay and stay." Burns, former longtime editor of the literary magazine Crazyhorse, selected Ries's manuscript as winner of the 2009 Stevens Competition. "This collection," he says in his foreword, "demands that we value differently what seems quotidian, remain curious, suspend disbelief a few moments longer." Jim Daniels, famed for his own working class poems gathered in many volumes, praises Sara Ries: "She writes with a complete lack of pretense, with a straightforward, authoritative voice that reveals the truth in the small daily details and exchanges of the diner."


      

Bear Country by Dana Soonnenschein
(Rochester Hills, MI: NFSPS Press, 2009).
$10 plus postage if ordered from Polly Opsahl at the address above. Questions may be directed to Polly Opsahl

The poems in this book work together as a sequence, exploring the difficult relations of humans and wild nature through a focus on bears of all kinds. As  2008 Stevens competition judge Carolyne Wright notes in her foreword, they do so in a great variety of poetic forms, including "narrative free verse, slant-rhyming couplets, prose poems, a pantoum, and even a bear-shaped concrete poem." As Wright also notes, "This is poetry freed from a dependence upon autobiography," focused outward on its subject. That subject, Wright elucidates, "is Ursa, and the literal and figurative territory in which it dwells, a numinous and compelling force in human mythology, and a genus whose every species is endangered because of human encroachment and predation throughout its range." "One must bear up in Bear Country," writes Iowa Review editor David Hamilton, "bear with, bear down as in giving birth, and bear witness, first to our shameful rule over the wild but also to our longing for that wild."
 

 
Capturing the Dead by Daniel Nathan Terry
(Rochester Hills, MI: NFSPS Press, 2008).
$10.00 plus postage if ordered from Polly Opsahl at the address above. Questions may be directed to Polly Opsahl

This book is a sequence of dramatic lyrics in the imagined voices of Civil War soldiers and photographers, primarily that of a fictional war photographer named Noah Williams. "Although its subject matter is familiar," comments Jeff Gundy, "the treatment is always fresh and sometimes dazzling. . . . Common soldiers and famous figures--from Matthew Brady to John Wilkes Booth to Lincoln himself--take on weight and solidity, captured in words that emulate the precision of film." Gundy places Capturing the Dead among "other great sets of war poems from the last two centuries," from Whitman's Drum-Taps to Andrew Hudgins' After the Lost War. Terry's poems, Gundy sums up, "offer both fidelity to history and relevance to our own predicament. They have much to teach us."
 

 
The Meager Life and Modest Times of Pop Thorndale by W. T. Pfefferle
(Rochester Hills, MI: NFSPS Press, 2007).
$5.00 plus postage if ordered from Polly Opsahl at the address above. Questions may be directed to Polly Opsahl


Patricia Fargnoli describes this book as "a novel in poetry" and its title character, Pop Thorndale, as "our contemporary American Everyman--ironic, mid-life, overweight, suburban, trying, as he ages, to find some meaning in what he knows has been an unremarkable and unheroic life." The book is made up of poems written in his voice, as his "memoir." It is, says Fargnoli, "a book that finally suggests that every life, no matter how imperfectly lived, has value."
 


Harvest by Budd Powell Mahan
(Rochester Hills, MI: NFSPS Press, 2006) $5.00 plus  postage if ordered from Polly Opsahl at the address above.  Questions may be directed to Polly Opsahl

Lawson Fusao Inada said of this book, "Harvest is a compelling volume of authentic verse.  Each poem is rooted in the land. . . . The harvest is a blessing and a revelation."
 

Aqua Curves by Karen Braucher
(Rochester Hills, MI: NFSPS Press, 2005), $5.00 plus  postage if ordered from Polly Opsahl at the address above. Questions may be directed to Polly Opsahl

Peter Meinke calls this book "more than a collection of poems. This is a complete book with a mature vision expressed with passion, wit, and lyrical intensity." He adds that the poems in the book are "clear-eyed and generous."
 

THE ZEN PIANO-MOVER by Jeanne Wagner
(Rochester Hills, MI: NFSPS Press, 2004), $5.00 plus postage
 
In her poetry Jeanne Wagner explores universal questions about spaces and connections in human relationships.  She r.eminds her readers of demands made upon us despite "how frail the body's wiring is."  Mary Jo Firth Gillett calls this book "a collection to savor."
A THOUSAND BONDS:Marie Curie and the Discovery of Radium by Eleanor Swanson
(Rochester Hills, MI: NFSPS Press, 2003), $5.00 plus postage

Although Eleanor Swanson's book centers on the life and work of Madame Curie, the relevance of this cycle of poems to issues of our time is clear. Ellen Bass finds Swanson's graceful poems urgently applicable to us because of Curie's "fierce devotion to science" regardless of "unforseeable consequences." Roald Hoffman calls this collection "touching," capable of moving readers to feel for and with Curie, who comes alive in these poems.
 

THE FINE ART OF POSTPONEMENT by Jane Bailey 
(Rochester Hills, MI: NFSPS Press, 2002), $3.00 plus postage

Poems by Jane Bailey, a registered nurse, have been accepted for publication in many journals. She has also won several awards, including the Richard Hugo Prize, the C. Hamilton Bailey Fellowship, and the Stevens Manuscript Competition for 2001. She lives in Salem, Oregon. Christopher Howell calls Bailey's The Fine Art of Postponement "a wonderful debut volume" marked by "a freshness of voice and a penetrating honesty." He adds that "our daily routines, affection, sexuality, loss, memory, and absurdity are observed and rendered . . . with a skill that lets us feel it is our own."

THE STONES FOR A PILLOW by Diane Glancy
(Rochester Hills, MI: NFSPS Press, 2001),  $3.00 plus postage

This "moving and remarkable book," as Peter Meinke calls it, won the Stevens Manuscript Competition for 2001. Michael Dennis Brown wrote of it, "Freshness and subtlety are everywhere." Glancy, a professor at Macalester College, has published several novels and collections of essays as well as poetry. She has also received many awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. These poems add substantively to her already impressive body of work.

 

BINOCULARS by Douglas Lawder  
(Rochester Hills, MI: NFSPS Press, 2000),  $3.00 plus postage

Winner of the Stevens Manuscript Competition for 2000, this collection by Douglas Lawder matches the promise of his early work, of which Richard Eberhart wrote, "Lawder's poems invite repeated readings.  He has a new combination of the sensuous and the surreal,"  and James Wright cited the "dark and strange precision" of Lawder's poetry.
 
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SINGING IN THE KEY OF L by Barbara Nightingale
(Rochester Hills, MI: NFSPS Press, 1999), $3.00 plus postage

Of this book which won the Stevens Manuscript Competition for 1999, Lola Haskins wrote, "In this stunning collection, Nightingale succeeds in doing what poets are supposed to do.  She assimilates the data of the physical world and transmits it into higher realms of awareness. . . . We recognize her truth, and it illuminates our own experience."
 

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WEIGHED IN THE BALANCES by Alan Birkelbach 
(Austin, TX: Plainview Press), NO LONGER AVAILABLE FROM NFSPS, SOLD OUT
 Margo LaGattuta said of this poet, winner of the Stevens Manuscript Competition for 1998: "A unique and original voice, Birkelbach invites us into his wor.ld of surprises.  He balances the unexpected with the everyday, questioning with revelation.  His wit and wisdom shine through these poems."  

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SHADOWLESS FLIGHT by Todd Palmer 
(Deerfield, IL: Lake Shore Publishing,1997), $3.00 plus postage

 Todd Palmer, whose poems won the Stevens Manuscript Competition for 1997, was called by Anne Marx "a contemporary voice dealing with ageless themes," and Marx went on to say, "His virtue, in contrast to authors of similar settings, is clearness rather than obscurity, a steady illumination rather than fireworks. He knows what is real and his poetry is nourished by such knowledge."
 

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I HAVE LEARNED FIVE THINGS by Elaine Christensen 
(Deerfield, IL: Lake Shore Publishing, 1996), $3.00 plus postage

 Of Elaine Christensen, poet whose work won the Stevens Manuscript Competition for 1996, Michael Dennis Browne wrote, "This poet speaks to us, with natural fluency and sureness of tone, from the center of a vigorously lived life full humanity, her frailties and strengths inextricably combined.  It's a joy to discover these stirring poems."
 

 

A COMMON LANGUAGE by Kathryn Clement
(Deerfield, IL: Lake Shore Publishing, 1995), $3.00 plus postage

David Baker says of Kathryn Clement's A Common Language, "The craft of these poems--their tight lines and right stanzas--seems unforced and natural . . . . Kathryn has woven for us a delicate but durable cloth for the cold days ahead."