CAVE WALL PRESS, LLC
Thank you to these fine poets, to our selection committee and guest
judge, and to everyone who nominated poems or made a donation to
make this award possible. Due to your generosity and desire to
celebrate poets, we were able to award $1,000 this year, in memory
of Nina Riggs.
Click here to learn more about this award.
winner of the 2022 Nina Riggs Poetry Award for
her poem "At Five I Burned Down My
|HONORABLE MENTION goes to:
for "Miss you. Would like to grab that chilled tofu we love."
published in Poetry Magazine
A special thank you to our GUEST JUDGE, Carrie Fountain,
author of the poetry collections The Life, Instant Winner, and Burn
Lake (all from Penguin). Of the winning poem, she writes:
"I'm happy to choose "At Five I Burned Down My Grandmother's
Bathroom" by Jessica Cuello as the winner of the Nina Riggs Poetry
Award. There are many things to praise here, but it's the masterful
way this poem moves that leaves me in awe: it starts with a clear,
imagistic narrative, but soon is moving with such lyric force
(disguised as ease). It picks up speed and weight until the end,
which suddenly transcends. In my experience, the poem stops but
my mind continues traveling. I am transported. This is above all a
poem about family and relationships, legacy and love. And I adore it."
PAST WINNERS & FINALISTS
REGINALD DWAYNE BETTS --"Blood History" , published in The
Paris Review, 2019.
Guest Judge, Maggie Smith, writes: "Family—starting one, or losing
an integral part of one, or just being in one—is dynamic, complicated,
charged. “Domestic life” isn’t synonymous with “quiet life.” “Blood
History” is as much about being a father of sons as it is about being a
son who longed for a father, and Betts makes language itself a place of
inquiry in the poem: longed and wanted, father and listen. Once you
read this poem, you’ll read it again, then three times. Before you
know it, it’s in you, part of you. And isn’t that just like family?"
2021 Honorable Mentions:
George David Clark -- "Ultrasound"
Camille Dungy -- "One to Watch, and One to Pray"
Benjamin S. Grossberg -- "As Are Right Fit"
Arao Ameny, "Home Is a Woman"
Dorothy Chan, "So Chinese Girl"
Beth Gordon, "In Which I Compare My Children to the Apocalypse on
a Friday Night"
Greer Gurland, "Why Am I Pacing the Kitchen Now?"
Donald Levering, "My Only Son--Relapse"
Okwudili Nebeolisa, "After Living with Him"
Lynne Thompson, "She talk like this 'cause me Mum born elsewhere,
RACHEL ELIZA GRIFFITHS --"Good Mother" , published in Tin
Guest Judge, Maria Hummel, writes: "To read Rachel Eliza Griffiths'
"Good Mother" is to touch the live wire of a daughter's grief, as she
walks into a drugstore before Mother's Day, looking for a card to give
her lost mother. But Griffiths' real electric miracle is how she passes
on the maternal moment of grace that follows--wrapping the reader in
her dazzling imagery and long, hymn-like lines. Both an elegy and a
praise song to mothers everywhere, the ones who give birth to us and
the ones who step in to shepherd us through dark times, "Good
Mother" is a stunning, complex, and deeply moving poem."
2020 Honorable Mention:
Melissa Crowe -- "Dear Terror, Dear Splendor"
Guest Judge, Maria Hummel, writes: "Melissa Crowe's "Dear Terror,
Dear Splendor" is structurally brilliant: a letter composed directly to
the pain and joy of motherhood, on the eve of her daughter's learning
to drive. There's a devastating precision to Crowe's lines, in the
repetition of the sound "or" in her title words and her slow, tense
advance into a night shadowed by future partings. Even among the
many skillfully crafted finalist poems, "Dear Terror, Dear Splendor"
was a standout."
Traci Brimhall, "Oh, Wonder"
Tiana Clark, "A Louder Thing"
Carrie Fountain, "Will You?"
Keetje Kuipers, "Still Life with Small Objects of Perfect Choking Size"
Megan Peak, "What I Don't Tell My Mother about Ohio"
Thomas Reiter, "Companions"
Anna Ross, "One Time"
Molly Spencer, "A Wooing, Outright, of My Beloved Ones"
Ellen Bass, "Getting Into Bed on a December Night"
Ellen Bass, "Ode to Zeke"
Blas Falconer, "Apology to My Son Who Asks to Live with Us Forever"
Leah Naomi Green, "Field Guide to the Chaparral"
Benjamin S. Grossberg, "My Mother's Dying"
Danusha Lameris, "Threshold"
Leslea Newman, "The First Time We Visit"
Sunni Brown Wilkinson, "Ghost"