The Fresno State Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing announced Georgia author Andrea Jurjević as the winner of the 2015 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry contest, which includes a $2,000 award and publication of her first book, “Small Crimes.”

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 Jurjević’s manuscript as the winner from a record 945 manuscript submissions. Hanzlicek wrote of the winning entry:

“Andrea Jurjević’s ‘Small Crimes’ begins during the Croatian war years of the early 1990s. In the midst of bombings, sniper shootings and firing squads, the speaker of the poems manages to live an almost normal adolescence, thanks to her grit, her attachment to family and her skepticism. The book then moves to the postwar years and onward into America, which is not without its own perils. This is a collection that is often dark but just as often beautiful. Jurjević’s language crackles with energy, and she lingers lovingly over the intimate details of a life that is lived with the eyes wide open.”

Jurjević’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals including Subtropics, TriQuarterly, Southern Humanities Review and The Missouri Review. A native of Croatia, her translations of contemporary Croatian poetry have appeared in Drunken Boat, Gulf Coast, Lunch Ticket and Berkeley Poetry Review. She is the recipient of the 2013 Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize, the 2015 RHINO Translation Prize, and a Tennessee Williams Scholarship in Poetry from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.

Jurjević received her Master of Fine Arts degree from Georgia State University in Atlanta where she currently teaches English. “Small Crimes” is her first book.

Hanzlicek also noted Timothy Geiger’s manuscript “Weatherbox” as a finalist.

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. The contest offers a $2,000 prize plus publication and distribution by Anhinga Press, which co-sponsors the prize.

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