Allison Benis White's Please Bury Me in This, published by Four Way Books, has won the 2018 UNT Rilke Prize. The $10,000 prize recognizes a book written by a mid-career poet and published in the preceding year that demonstrates exceptional artistry and vision. A Q&A and reception for White will be held on Wednesday, April 11, at UNT on the Square and a campus reading will take place on Thursday, April 12, 2018.
In her moving book-length meditation on language and bereavement, Please Bury Me in This, the poet Allison Benis White writes, "In the museum of sadness, in the museum of light-- // I would climb so carefully inside the glass coffin and lower the lid." The book enacts just such an attempt, to enter the space of the unspeakable--the suffering of those lost to suicide--and to speak there, but the gestures of longing remain fraught, haunted by hopelessness, destined to begin and begin again. The suicide note, the letter to the dead, the message scrawled by a death camp victim and buried in a jar--they resonate as modes of singing, of reaching toward the inaccessible, whose radical mystery remains, and therein resides a measure of the music's beauty, its power to hold us, if only briefly, in its glass. Out of the mouth, a ring of gray against a wall. Out of emptiness, a listening, an inconsolable compulsion to "assemble the soul."
Wednesday, April 11, 2018: 6:30 p.m.
Q&A / Reception
UNT on the Square
Thursday, April 12, 2018: 8:00 p.m.
Reading & Book Signing
UNT Business Leadership Building, Room 180
Allison Benis White is the author of Please Bury Me in This and Small Porcelain Head, selected by Claudia Rankine for the Levis Prize in Poetry and named a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award and the California Book Award. Her first book, Self-Portrait with Crayon, received the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Book Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, 2017 Pushcart Prize XLI: Best of the Small Presses, and elsewhere. She has received honors and awards from the San Francisco Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, and Poets & Writers magazine. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside.
The judges also selected three finalists for this year's Rilke Prize: Christopher Howell's Love's Last Number (Milkweed Editions), Alessandra Lynch's Daylily Called it a Dangerous Moment (Alice James Books), and Maurice Manning's One Man's Dark (Copper Canyon Press).
The UNT Rilke Prize is offered by Creative Writing, Department of English and was founded in 2012. For more information about the prize and our previous winners visit: english.unt.edu/creative-writing/unt-rilke-prize.
Press release and photo courtesy of the Department of English