2018 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry winner

Mark Irwin for his book Shimmer

2018 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry winnerCalifornia author Mark Irwin is the winner of the 2018 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry book contest, which includes a $2,000 award and publication of his tenth book, Shimmer.

Irwin teaches graduate and undergraduate poetry workshops in the Creative Writing & Literature Program at the University of Southern California, and he lives in Los Angeles and Colorado. He earned his Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and his Master of Fine Arts degree from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. His poetry has been described as a “descendent of William Carlos Williams and Hart Crane” and has been translated into several languages.

Irwin’s nine collections of poetry include A Passion According to Green (2017), American Urn: New & Selected Poems (1987- 2014), Tall If (2009), Bright Hunger (2004), and White City (2000). His collection of essays, Monster: Distortion, Abstraction, and Originality in Contemporary American Poetry, was published in 2017.

Recognition for Irwin’s work includes four Pushcart Prizes, two Colorado Book Awards, The Nation/Discovery Award, the James Wright Poetry Award, and fellowships from the Fulbright, Lilly, NEA, and Wurlitzer foundations.

C. G. Hanzlicek, the Levine Prize final judge and award-winning poet and Fresno State professor emeritus, chose Irwin’s manuscript as the winner. There were 809 manuscript submissions. Hanzlicek wrote of the winning entry:

“Reading a poem by Mark Irwin is like watching time-lapse photography of an iris coming into bloom: Interesting and beautiful things unfold very quickly. His imagery is as varied as the twin towers, the ‘digital haze’ on our device screens, or sunlight passing through a jar of marmalade. Many of the poems have the urgency of incantations to summon what has been lost. Through all of his work runs a quiet, restless probing, a shimmer, where ‘the seconds fill us like a lake with rain.’ ”

2018 Finalists

Hanzlicek also noted two manuscripts as contest finalists: The Midwestern Book of the Dead by Regina DiPerna of New York, New York; and The Fox Has Risen by J.P. White of Excelsior, Minnesota.