The Converse Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing and Clemson University Press announce the 2023 Converse MFA Alumni Book Prize winner, Lisa Hase-Jackson ‘15, author of Insomnia in Another Town. Zorina Frey ’23 was the runner-up for the book Redline U.S. A Story, and Hannah Marshall ’20 was a finalist for the book The Shape Good Can Take.
Lisa Hase-Jackson is the author of the poetry collection Flint & Fire (The Word Works, 2019), which was selected for the 2019 Hilary Tham Capital Collection Series. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including Cimarron Review, South Carolina Review, and Mom Egg Review. Awarded residencies at the Kimmel Harding-Nelson Center for the Arts and Vermont Studio Center, her work can also be found in Ice on a Hot Stove (Clemson University Press) and The Crafty Poet (Terrapin Press) anthologies. She has taught at universities and writing workshops across the country. Hase-Jackson is the Chief Managing Editor of South 85 Journal and founding editor of Zingara Poetry Review.
Claire Bateman, poet and author of nine books, served as this year’s judge. In selecting the winner, Bateman stated that all the manuscripts distinguished themselves and each writer possessed a “wonderfully distinct voice.”
Regarding selecting Jackson as the 2023 winner, Bateman said, “Insomnia in Another Town is a peripatetic exploration of place and displacement; animal life and strange weathers; the exigencies of race, class, and gender as childhood memories emit a dark radiance by which to navigate the present. These poems are quietly perceptive, and unflinching.”
From Hase-Jackson’s poem:
There is no small grief…/for all are/interconnected. One touch/sends tremors through our core/like the fly in the web/that wakes the spider at its center.
Bateman continued, “Nevertheless, there’s significant courage here with grace notes of buoyancy as readers are reawakened to joy in bird song along the power lines/and between the tunes/on the radio,/the interstices/of thoughts/no one thinks about.”
The Converse MFA Alumni Book Prize is part of a publishing partnership between the low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at Converse and Clemson University Press. The Clemson-Converse Literature Series publishes a diverse and distinguished body of contemporary poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction essay collections.
While the series will occasionally feature an outstanding anthology, the majority of the books are selected through two competitions, each of which runs biennially: a national poetry prize for a full-length book, an award open to all poets publishing in English, and the Converse MFA Alumni Book Award Series, open to alumni of the Converse Low-Residency MFA.
Converse’s MFA in Creative Writing is a two-year, co-educational low residency program for serious, independent writers seeking advanced instruction in poetry, fiction, young adult fiction, and creative nonfiction. Converse’s unique MFA program also offers a second genre option, which allows students to minor in a second genre for a semester alongside their major writing genre during their studies.
The Converse MFA Alumni Book Prize is awarded every two years to a Converse MFA graduate who has entered an original book-length manuscript into its contest. All submitted manuscripts are judged anonymously by a writer of national distinction, and the author of the winning manuscript(s) is awarded a standard royalty book contract with publication by Clemson University Press.
Clemson University Press edits, publishes, and distributes each prize-winning book, plus the winner is invited, all expenses paid, to give a public reading from the winning manuscript at the Converse MFA program’s residency session.