Jason Rapp

Marlanda Dekine wins 2021 New Southern Voices Poetry Prize

SCAC earns publication, cash prize


Hub City Press just announced that Marlanda Dekine is the winner of the fifth New Southern Voices Poetry Prize.

Marlanda Dekine (she/they) is a poet obsessed with ancestry, memory, and the process of staying within one’s own body. Their work manifest as books, audio projects, and workshops, leaving spells and incantations for others to follow for themselves.

The prize for Dekine’s unpublished manuscript, Thresh & Hold, is $1,000 and publication by Hub City Press in spring 2022. Their manuscript was selected as the winner of the prize by award-winning poet Gabrielle Calvocoressi.

Dekine’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Southern Humanities Review, POETRY Magazine, Emergence Magazine, Juke Joint Magazine, OROBORO, Screen Door Review, Root Work Journal, and elsewhere. They are the founder and former executive director of Speaking Down Barriers, Spoken Word Spartanburg, and other organizations that make space for all beings. Currently, she serves as a Healing Justice Fellow with Gender Benders and the 2021/2022 creative-in-residence with Castle of our Skins.

Dekine is the recipient of many awards, including a Tin House Own Path Scholarship (2021), an SC Humanities Award for Fresh Voices in Humanities (2019), Emrys’ Keller Cushing Freeman Fellowship (2019), and grants from the S.C. Arts Commission, Alternate Roots, The Map Fund, and other organizations. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Furman University, University of South Carolina, and is a third-year master of fine arts candidate (Poetry) at Converse College.

Of the collection, Calvocoressi wrote,

“I cannot and will not put Marlanda Dekine’s, Thresh & Hold down. The world it builds, celebrates, and reclaims is a reckoning and a symphony. From the brutality of the rice plantations of South Carolina to the specific privacy found inside one’s Saturn Vue, the breadth of human experience that unfold in these poems cover histories that, we too often forget, are all intimate stories. Dekine reminds us that every moment we read about is a moment some body has fought or celebrated or been unable to live through. The effect of this is that we are brought into the vast music of a world that is endlessly unfolding, It’s fairly common to read poems that speak about community but there are only a handful of poets alive; Nikky Finney, Destiny Hemphill, CA Conrad come to mind, whose poems truly make community as the work blooms before us. This is a poet of that order and ability. I am so blown away by the gift and the challenge of this book. A book that not for one moment looks away from the brutality and beauty of this world. A book that says, ‘I am listening to Spirit. I am not dying today.'”

Calvocoressi is the author of the poetry collections Rocket Fantastic; Apocalyptic Swing, which was a finalist for the 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart, which was shortlisted for the Northern California Book Award and winner of the Connecticut Book Award in Poetry. They are the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including a Stegner Fellowship and Jones Lectureship from Stanford University, a Rona Jaffe Woman Writer’s Award, a Lannan Foundation residency in Marfa, Texas, the Bernard F. Conners Prize from The Paris Review, and a residency from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation. Calvocoressi teaches at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and lives in Carrboro, North Carolina.

The other finalists are Reyes Ramirez for Answers Without Questions and Andy Young for Museum of the Soon Departed.

The biennial New Southern Voices Prize is sponsored by Hub City Press of Spartanburg. It is open to all poets who have either never published a full-length collection of poetry, or who have only published one full-length collection, and who currently reside in and have had residency in one or more of the following states for a minimum of 24 consecutive months: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The previous winner of this prize was Megan Denton Ray for her collection, Mustard, Milk and Gin which was released by Hub City Press in March 2020.


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