The Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at Fresno State has announced Florida author Christine Poreba as winner of the 2014 Philip Levine Prize in Poetry, which includes a $2,000 award and publication of her first book, “Rough Knowledge.”
The Master of Fine Arts program sponsors the national prize, which honors poet and professor emeritus Philip Levine, a founder of Fresno State’s poetry writing program who won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize in poetry and was named 2011-2012 Poet Laureate of the United States.
Levine Prize final judge Peter Everwine, an award-winning poet and Fresno State professor emeritus, chose Poreba’s manuscript as the winner from among nearly 700 manuscripts. Everwine wrote of the winning entry:
“In ‘Rough Knowledge,’ Christine Poreba has a poem in which she says, ‘I want them both:/ the space, the containment.’ That desire is familiar, I think, to most of us. Not accidently, however, it also is at the heart of making poems, certainly Poreba’s poems, which begin in some common event or scene — flying a model plane, watching someone familiar walk down a street at night — only to lead into a restless questioning of what appeared as common. Hers is a beautifully sustained and often surprising art of connections that takes nothing for granted. Even a butterfly’s sudden smear across a windshield ‘could/ look a bit like/ any human sorrow…’ I don’t mean to suggest that her poems move toward abstraction or conclude in comforting generalities. She has an eye for exact particulars and doesn’t stray from them, but her poems are so transparent, so quiet and intimate with the daily ambiguities and revelations of experience, that if you listen carefully you can almost believe the movement within her poems is like breathing: inward-containment, outward-space. I want such poetry close at hand.”
Poreba’s poems have appeared in journals including “The Sun Magazine,” “The Southern Review,” “The Pinch” and “Subtropics,” and her writing for children is featured in an anthology entitled “Let in the Stars.” Her awards include a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize, a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship and residencies from the Ragdale Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts.
Poreba holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Florida, as well as a Master of Science in Education degree from Bank Street College in New York. Originally from New York City, she currently lives in Tallahassee, Florida with her husband and young son.
The Philip Levine Prize in Poetry is an annual national book contest open to all poets, except current or former students or faculty of Fresno State. It is coordinated by Dr. Corrinne Clegg Hales. The contest offers a $2,000 prize plus publication and distribution by Anhinga Press, which also co-sponsors the prize.