WMU News

New issues poet wins prestigious national prize

May 7, 1998

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University's New Issues Press Poetry Series is emerging as a leading scout of new talent in the world of poetry, with one of its newly published writers winning a major award from the Poetry Society of America.

Rebecca Reynolds, author of "Daughter of the Hangnail," has won the 1998 Norma Farber First Book Award. Reynolds' book was one of four first books of poetry published by New Issues Press in 1997.

"I'm delighted," says Herbert S. Scott, editor of the series and the Gwen Frostic Professor of Creative Writing at WMU. "Rebecca's poetry uses language beautifully, it respects language and it's somewhat difficult. This recognition will open things up for her in a way that they wouldn't have been opened before."

Scott says the award is also a major feat for the New Issues Press Poetry Series, since it is highly unusual for a press in its first year of national competition to win what is considered the only post publication first book prize in the country.

Reynolds' book was selected from a field of 82 books submitted by 60 different publishers. In addition to awarding her a $1,000 prize, the Poetry Society of America purchased 100 copies of Reynolds' book and distributed them to its patrons. Reynolds received her award at the Poetry Society of America's annual awards ceremony at the New York Public Library April 24.

As part of the honor, New Issues Press also was invited to display the books from its poetry series at the ceremony.

The New Issues Press Poetry Series was established in 1996 by the WMU College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of English to publish the first books of promising new poets from Michigan and the United States.

Reynolds is the assistant director of the undergraduate honors program at Rutgers University's Douglass College, and is currently teaching in the women's studies program at Rutgers.

Media contact: Julie Paavola; julie.paavola@wmich.edu

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