July 29, 2019

Associate professor wins $5,000 prize for poetry

University of Wisconsin-Superior associate professor Jayson Iwen was recently awarded the $5,000 Miller Williams Poetry Prize.

University of Wisconsin-Superior associate professor Jayson Iwen was recently awarded the $5,000 Miller Williams Poetry Prize.

University of Wisconsin-Superior associate professor Dr. Jayson Iwen was recently awarded the $5,000 Miller Williams Poetry Prize.

“The former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins called to inform me,” said Iwen . “He wanted to let me know that I’d won the award. He said my manuscript was the one he kept going back to the most. This manuscript was a finalist for the National Poetry Series last year. I knew it had potential. This one in particular seemed to be catching people’s attention.”

For Iwen , this is the result of hard work and redefining his subject matter.

“The subjects of my poetry and non-fiction have been becoming more topics of public concern,” he said. “For this book, I adopted two different personas [for the poems]. Half of the book is written in the voice of a teenage girl growing up in a trailer park in Proctor, addressing concerns that are not given much attention in media these days – like the lives of young people growing up in America, the lives of people living in poverty, and particularly Midwesterners.

“The other character is a retired Vietnam veteran who’s barely getting by on Social Security,” Iwen said. “He lives in an apartment he shares with an Afghan refugee sponsored by a local church. The kinds of stories I’m familiar with just from having lots of friends from different socio-economic classes. These are familiar stories, but you don’t hear about them in the media much.”

The book, currently titled Disposable Beauties, will be published late winter or early spring.

Every year, the University of Arkansas Press accepts submissions for the Miller Williams Poetry Series and from the books selected awards the $5,000 Miller Williams Poetry Prize in the following summer. For almost a quarter century, the press has made this series the cornerstone of its work as a publisher of some of the country’s best new poetry. The series and prize are named for and operated to honor the cofounder and longtime director of the press, Miller Williams. The series is edited by Collins.

University of Wisconsin-Superior associate professor Jayson Iwen was recently awarded the $5,000 Miller Williams Poetry Prize.

University of Wisconsin-Superior associate professor Jayson Iwen was recently awarded the $5,000 Miller Williams Poetry Prize.

UW-Superior Faculty/Staff

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