The Fresno State Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing announced Alabama author Tina Mozelle Braziel as the winner of the 2017 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry book contest, which includes a $2,000 award and publication of her debut full-length book, “Known by Salt.”
The Creative Writing Program sponsors the national prize, which honors the late poet and professor emeritus Philip Levine, a founder of Fresno State’s poetry writing program, a 1995 Pulitzer Prize winner in poetry and the 2011 poet laureate of the United States.
C. G. Hanzlicek, the Levine Prize final judge and award-winning poet and Fresno State professor emeritus, chose Braziel’s manuscript as the winner. There were 867 manuscript submissions, the second-highest number of entries ever. Hanzlicek wrote of the winning entry:
“Tina Braziel’s ‘Known by Salt’ is very much a book of celebrations. One arc of the book is the move from a life in trailer parks to a house that Tina and her husband build with their own hands, stud by stud, window by window. It is also a celebration of Alabama, with its forests, its rivers and lakes, and its creatures: snakes, deer, birds, lizards. Her observations are so keen — ‘herons lift their backward knees’ — that they make me laugh out loud in my own celebration. This attention to detail is what Roethke called long looking, and it is everywhere in these well-wrought poems.”
Hanzlicek also noted one manuscript as a contest finalist: “A Pony Called Loneliness” by Sonia Greenfield of Los Angeles, California.
Braziel grew up on the Coosa River in Pell City, Alabama. She received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Oregon. Her poems have appeared in journals, including The Cincinnati Review, the Southern Humanities Review, the Tampa Review and Appalachian Heritage. Her poetry chapbook, “Rooted by Thirst,” was published in 2016 by Porkbelly Press.
In 2017, Braziel served as an artist-in-residence at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, and in 2013 she was awarded a scholarship to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. She currently directs the Ada Long Creative Writing Workshop at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, an intensive summer program for high school students interested in creative writing as a career or for personal enrichment.
She and her husband, novelist James Braziel, live and write in a glass cabin that they are building on Hydrangea Ridge in Remlap, Alabama.
The Philip Levine Prize for 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 Professor Corrinne Clegg Hales as part of the university’s English 242 graduate course, literary editing and publishing, which provides students with real-world experience in the field. The contest offers a $2,000 prize plus publication and distribution by Anhinga Press, which co-sponsors the prize.