09/20/2023 Mary Tasillo and Dan Rosenberg run the type that they previously set through the press in preparation of Daniela Naomi Molnar's Wild Pigments workshop

Wells College Press announces 2024 Chapbook Contest winner

The winning manuscript will be published as a custom-designed, hand-sewn chapbook, and the author will be invited to read at Wells College.
April 9, 2024

The Wells College Press is pleased to announce that the winner of its 2024 Chapbook Contest is K. Avvirin Berlin for her manuscript “Obsidian.” Her prize includes 10 copies of a custom-designed chapbook, plus a digital version, and $1,000, including room and board, to come to Wells College for a reading from her new chapbook in the fall of 2024.

The Wells College Press will also print and sell 50 special-edition, signed, and numbered copies of the chapbook. In the Wells College Press tradition, Berlin’s chapbook will be crafted individually and obsessively with a design that responds directly to the poems. Since 2014, prior winning chapbooks have included type and ornaments cast in metal at the Bixler Letterfoundry in Skaneateles, commissioned engravings, and tactile cover materials enclosing the hand-sewn bindings.

K. Avvirin Berlin

Berlin’s debut poetry collection, “Leda’s Daughters,” won the 2023 Jean Feldman Poetry Award from Washington Writers’ Publishing House and was published in October of last year. Her poems have been published in The Iowa Review, The Georgia Review, Boston Review online, Women’s Studies Quarterly, and Beloit Poetry Journal. Her scholarship on Sojourner Truth and Black feminism was published in the September 2023 issue of Nineteenth-Century Literature, and reviews have appeared in Women’s Review of Books. She is an Assistant Professor of English at Washington and Lee University and lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

With more than 300 manuscripts submitted this year, the readers on the panel and final judge of the Chapbook Contest, Wells College English Department Chair Dan Rosenberg, were overwhelmed by the beautiful range and ambition of submissions. Rosenberg said he singled out this collection for its expansive sense of self, its ability to lay claim to inheritances from multiple traditions and speak with one complex voice to the present and the past.

“Ultimately, Berlin’s ‘Obsidian’ won us over with its impressive field of allusions and references, deep historical and personal engagement, and commitment to the potential of language to wake us,” Rosenberg said. “One reader responded by praising its ‘roving engagement with feminism, race, icons and touchpoints in history, art, and myth,’ and another celebrated the attention to “rich, musical sound” that shaped the poems.’ We would like to thank everyone who submitted, and to express our regret that we can’t publish more than one of the many worthy collections we considered this year.”

The Wells College Press opened submissions to its annual Chapbook Contest in October and closed them in January. The contest is a collaboration between the English Department and the Wells Book Arts Center, where the WCP operates. The WCP was founded in 1939 by Victor Hammer, active until 1948, and re-established with the founding of the Center in 1993.

This year’s Chapbook Contest finalists are:

  • “Twenty-Four Covers of a House on Fire” by Christopher Smith
  • “De/Generation: A Vision Quest” by Gail Griffin
  • “24 Frames” by Eric Pankey
  • “Duties: New Minister of Loneliness” by Beth Dufford
  • “Delta” by Michael Prior

This year’s Chapbook Contest semifinalists are:

  • “My Martyr / My Mother” by BE Thompson
  • “Doctor of the World” by Fleda Brown
  • “A/Sunder” by Sandra Fees
  • “Miss Expanding Universe” by Morgan Eklund
  • “How Prey Thinks” by Erica Reid

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