The Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, sponsored by Madwomen in the Attic, is an annual contest open to women writers over the age of 40 who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, currently living in the U.S., who have not published a full-length book of poetry, fiction, or non-fiction.

2020 Award Winner

Shirley Jones Luke

Title: Juxtaposing the Black Girl & the Abuse

Luke’s poem, “Juxtaposing the Black Girl & the Abuse,” with its singular, distinct voice and its willingness to risk, distinguished itself from a field of 1541 entries. As winner of the 2020 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, Luke will receive $2500 and publication of her winning poem in Voices from the Attic, a Madwomen in the Attic publication.

About the winner: Shirley Jones Luke is a poet and writer living in Boston, MA. She received an MA in English from the University of Massachusetts Boston and an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College. Her work focuses on Blackness and how it intersects with womanhood, culture and society. Luke’s work has appeared in Longleaf Review, MAYDAY, Barren Magazine, Adanna, BlazeVOX, Deluge, Vox Poetica, Boston Accent Lit, Porridge, Fire Poetry and Willawaw, and other journals. She was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize for the poem “Drumming Season,” published in WORDPEACE. A graduate of The Watering Hole Poetry Retreat, Luke has attended workshops across the country and around the world, including Bread Loaf, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Paris Writing Retreat, Tin House and VONA (Voices of Our Nations). She has also attended workshops on Martha’s Vineyard and at Open Mouth in Arkansas. Luke is currently working on her poetry manuscript.

Honorable mention

  • “How to Shield a Dark Body”, Lolita Stewart-White from Miami, Fl
  • “Billing Department”, Lolita Stewart-White from Miami, Fl
  • “Necklace (After Jericho Brown)”, Laura Joyce-Hubbard from Highland Park, Il


  • “Marianne”, Laura Paul Watson from Pine, Co
  • “Before Immersion”, Laurinda Lind from Redwood, Ny
  • “fugitive: fire lookout”, Lisa Roullard from Salt Lake City, Ut
  • “On Giving Yourself Permission at 52”, Laurie Rachkus Uttich from Oviedo, Fl

Past award winners

To view or download the poem and additional information about our winners [pdf], click on the title of the poem below.

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