Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award

2020 Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award Winner

Joe Jiménez for Rattlesnake Allegory
from Red Hen Press

Judge: Leslie Heywood

“The gorgeous music that inhabits the poems in Rattlesnake Allegory is just the first thing that makes you catch your breath. Then there is the rough-edged compassion that renders love, rejection, acceptance, and longing in the guise of burning couches, tattooed fists: "when the whole world inside him is a fingernail, / or quiet like a small bucket of snails." Jiménez grabs you by the throat, then sets you down: moved, seen, changed. I am ever so grateful to have been shaken by these poems, by this language, by this heart.”

Kessler Award Finalists for 2020 (in alphabetical order):

Dolefully, A Rampart Stands, Paige Ackerson-Kiely (Penguin)
Running to Stand Still, Kimberly Reyes (Omnidawn)
Lima : : Limón, Natalie Scenters-Zapico (Copper Canyon)
Brute, Emily Skaja (Graywolf)
Unmanly Grief, Jess Williard (The University of Arkansas Press)