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About Pushcart Prize Nominations

The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses series, published every year since 1976, is the most honored literary project in America. Since 1976, hundreds of presses and thousands of writers of short stories, poetry and essays have been represented in their annual collections. Winners of the Prize have included the likes of Charles Simic, Robert Pinsky, Joyce Carol Oates, Raymond Carver, Andre Dubus, Margaret Atwood, Richard Ford and John Updike, to name only a handful. No wonder simply being nominated for a Pushcart makes you feel as if you've won something.

Each fall, editors from small magazines and independent book presses worldwide are invited to submit up to six nominations. The nominations may be any combination of poetry, short stories, essays, memoirs or stand-alone excerpts from novels. Translations, reprints and both traditional and experimental writing are also welcome.

Announcing IPA's Pushcart Prize Nominations for 2021

The Iowa Poetry Association's Editor and Associate Editors have collaborated to select nominees from this year's Lyrical Iowa 2020 75th Anniversary Edition. The list of poems is presented in alphabetical order by author's last name. Please join us in congratulating and wishing these nominees success.

Allison Berryhill

SONNET TO MY STUDENTS ON THE FIRST DAY OF CLASS

Come in and make a mess with all your thoughts.
Here shake them loose and spill them on the page.
Then push them, pull them, tie them into knots.
Your words are laughter, questions, hopes, and rage.
The writing in this room will echo, pound
against our heads and hearts: cacophony.
Then, crash of who we are creates a sound
From which our hearts rise up: a symphony.
For mess and noise and joyful chaos reign
In space where all experiment and try.
To set you free, I loose you from the chains,
Release you to explore your inner eye.
So, welcome. I invite you to a year
Of messy, joyful learning without fear.


Heather Ann Clark

TURTLE SHELLS

My therapist asks what else is on my mind.

A pithy incident, too long ago to recount
without exposing more than I wish today.

Instead, I tell her it's turtles.
Turtle shells, actually.
And how a wildlife refuge
put out a call to women
asking for the hook and loop pieces
from discarded bras. How these

garbage items are being attached
to broken turtle shells. The victims
of menacing cars barreling down the road,
but saved by the strength of their shells

and a kindly person to take them to shelter,
where wire and patience guide
the broken shell back together,

until it fuses shut again on its own.


Jared Pearce

ILLNESS

It's like waiting for the elevator
doors to release me, letting this
virus run its course. Nothing
will rub it out or bribe it, just
the clicking of days; like sitting

through meetings or finding
the next politician, so many
minutes have to expire, then
life can resume its function
toward beauty, rather then

waiting for the clothes to dry
or the shower to open or food
to cook or cool or be available
or the child to walk to stop walking
or the girl to love and keep loving.


Shelly Reed Thieman

ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF ANOTHER WINTER

Tongue-tied with suet and peanut
butter, a quartet of nuthatches nimble
as eighth notes commune at the feeder.

Owl calls my secret name as dusk
raps his chapped knuckles
on the kitchen window.

Dog and I allow him in unshaven,
his face creased deeply
as an ancient blueprint.

A mirage of deer disappears
toward the pond while snow brushes
layers of white over lashes

of the pine bough. Tranquility
lands, light as a moth. I invite
it in for a snifter of brandy

and like the moon, learn
to harmonize with darkness.


Erik Trilk

DAZED AND CONFUSED

It won't be long until I'm with the moon
this summer. Bare feet whisper on midnight
grass. Drenched dazed and confused afternoons soon.
Flags furled high on the fourth. Ball caps slightly

Off-balance. Out of order. Life shut down.
Pebbles sprinkle high school bedrooms at night.
"I'll be right down," she smiles, fearful of sound.
Hands entwined; fingers sweat. Teenage forthright.

Midnight memories turn into dawning
suns. Iowa yawns her dawn's early sign.
Small towns reveal their majestic awnings.
Morning tiptoes through tall beams of sunshine.

A girl kisses a boy. Lips stay disposed,
smiling... until eyes are no longer closed.


Copyright © 2020 Lyrical Iowa Iowa Poetry Association

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