Kurt Olsson’s book Burning Down Disneyland was selected by final judge Thomas Lux as the winner of the 2016 Barry Spacks Poetry Prize. Of this work, Thomas Lux said
I love the title of this book (though I read it as metaphor!) and I love the innovative mischief of its poems. Let it be known: a true poetic intelligence and imagination lives between its covers.
Ten finalists were recognized by the press, including the winning manuscript and:
- Nan Cohen, Unfinished City
- Jeff Ewing, The Wind Apples
- Andrew Gottlieb, His Winter Beast
- Adam Houle, Stray
- Kathleen McClung, The Typists Play Monopoly
- Emily Schulten, The Way a Wound Becomes a Scar
- Anna Scotti, Bewildered by All This Broken Sky
- James Scruton, Ordinary Plenty
- Erin Elizabeth Smith, Down: The Alice Poems
About Kurt Olsson: Kurt Olsson’s first book of poetry, What Kills What Kills Us, won the Gerald Cable Book Award and was published by Silverfish Review Press in 2007. In 2008, the book was awarded the Towson University Prize for Literature, given annually to the best book published the previous year by a Maryland writer, as well as named Best Poetry Book of 2008 by Peace Corps Writers.
Olsson’s poems have appeared in many journals, including Poetry, FIELD, The New Republic, Alaska Quarterly Review, Southern Review, Antioch Review, Poetry East, Quarterly West, Black Warrior Review, and The Threepenny Review. He also has three chapbooks to his credit: I Know Your Heart, Hieronymus Bosch; Autobiography of My; and Terra Incognita. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, he has received several grants from the Maryland State Arts Council.
Here’s a sample poem from Burning Down Disneyland:
How Many Angels
And afterwards where do they all go
spilling from the pin’s head like wildflowers
dried and forgotten in an unread book?
And what happens to their music?
Does it stop or do the notes still jig and echo
like tin horns in the cities of the damned?
What comes of the slippers and the tambours,
pan flutes and lyres, all the instruments
of their useless dancing?
And what of the angel,
last numbered, one metaphysical foot lifted
for his first and forever final dance step?
Burning Down Disneyland will be published by Gunpowder Press in late 2016 or early 2017. We congratulate all the finalists for the extraordinary work. Thank you, Thomas Lux, for this selection.