Final Judge Jessica Jacobs has selected Curriculum, by Meghan Dunn of Brooklyn, New York, as the winner of the 2020 Barry Spacks Poetry Prize. The editors of Gunpowder Press are excited to publish this collection of timely and carefully-crafted poems. Read the judge’s response:
In Meghan Dunn’s incisive debut, we encounter a speaker both student and teacher. These poems delve into the moments that forged her, while offering timely accounts of trying to shepherd students through America’s dark racial history, bearing witness to modern-day lynchings, active shooter drills, and the shock of classmates dead far too soon. Beautifully crafted, every lesson bears surprises: “Cartography” is a study in the landscape of bodies and drift of borders; “Foreign Language,” in the difficulty of holding another’s grief; “Grammar Lesson,” in the moments that reveal us as less than the person we’d most like to be. In Curriculum, all of life, with its many loves and losses, is on the syllabus, and like the best classes, these poems reintroduce us to wonder, making us students again of a world we thought we already knew.
The other finalists were:
- Luminous Body, Glittering Ash by C.W. Emerson
- Ishmael Mask by Charles Kell
- The Right Blue Dream Home by Claire McQuerry
- To Find Comfort in Others by Stephen Priest
- Mother Lode by Peg Quinn
- From the Gunroom by Keith Stahl
- Divination with a Human Heart Attached by Emily Stoddard
- The Public by Patrick Swaney
- Sum Ledger by Adam Tavel (manuscript withdrawn in the final stages of judging and forthcoming from Measure Press—congratulations, Adam!)
We appreciate the incredibly strong entries we received for this year’s contest and the careful consideration of our final judge. Thank you, Jessica! Read more here.