Ariana Reines’s A Sand Book has been selected as the winner of the 2020 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and Tiana Clark’s I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood has been chosen for the 2020 Kate Tufts Discovery Award.
The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award was created to both honor apoet and provide the resources that allow artists to continue working towards the pinnacle of their craft. Kate Tufts – widow of Kingsley Tufts, and creator of the award – had said she wanted to create a prize “that would enable a poet to work on his or her craft for awhile without paying bills.”
The Kate Tufts Discovery Award was created in 1994, a year after the inception of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. It is presented to a first book by a poet of genuine promise.
A Sand Book by Ariana Reines
A Sand Book is a poetry collection in nine parts, a travel guide that migrates from wildfires to hurricanes, tweety bird to the president, lust to aridity, desertification to prophecy, and mother to daughter. It explores the negative space of what is happening to language and to consciousness in our strange and desperate times. From Hurricane Sandy to the murder of Sandra Bland to the massacre at Sandy Hook, from the sand in the gizzards of birds to the desertified mountains of Haiti, from Attar’s “Conference of the Birds” to Chaucer’s “Parliament of Fowls” to Twitter, A Sand Book is about change and quantification, the relationship between catastrophe and cultural transmission. It moves among houses of worship and grocery stores, flitters between geological upheaval and the weird weather of the Internet. In her long-awaited follow-up to Mercury, Reines has written her most ambitious work to date, but also her most visceral and satisfying.
I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood by Tiana Clark
For prize-winning poet Tiana Clark, trees will never be just trees. They will also and always be a row of gallows from which Black bodies once swung. This is an image that she cannot escape, but one that she has learned to lean into as she delves into personal and public histories, explicating memories and muses around race, elegy, family, and faith by making and breaking forms as well as probing mythology, literary history, her own ancestry, and, yes, even Rihanna. I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood, because Tiana cannot engage with the physical and psychic landscape of the South without seeing the braided trauma of the broken past–she will always see blood on the leaves.