Dobler Poetry Award
The Patricia Dobler Poetry Award is an annual contest is 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.
Now accepting entries for the 2020 Dobler Poetry Award
Submit your poem by Thursday, October 1, 2020, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.
2019 Dobler Poetry Award Winner
Kathleen Kirk, a poet from Normal, IL, is the winner of the 2019 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, sponsored by Carlow University's Madwomen in the Attic Creative Writing Workshops.
Kirk’s poem, “Fox Collar,” with its singular, distinct voice and its willingness to risk, distinguished itself from a field of 335 entries.
Poet Denise Duhamel, the judge of the 2019 Dobler Award, wrote this about Kirk’s poem:
I chose “Fox Collar” from a group of truly amazing finalists. “Fox Collar” is a haunting exploration of a childhood story that has stayed with the speaker. She imagines her mother as a young woman, embellishing the family lore’s narrative and inventing a “what if” parallel life. The poem’s couplets mirror mother and daughter, then and now, glamour and peril. The child has inadequate tools (“a spatula or spoon”) to help the mother fix what is broken or regain what has been stolen. There is mystery “over the hill” (a pregnant belly?) and this poem distills the many ways children never truly know their mothers and all of their desires. Was the mother a fox/foxy? Was she clever and resourceful? Was the mother restrained by her collar? The exact imagery in “Fox Collar” opens to many interpretations and emotional tones. I could say more, but I don’t want to ruin the poem’s deft ending.
As winner of the Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, Kirk will receive $1000, publication of her winning poem in Voices from the Attic, and round-trip travel, lodging, and a reading with judge Denise Duhamel on Friday, April 3, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. in the Carlow University Gailliot Center. This reading is free and open to the public.
2019’s honorable mentions are Dr. Shari Crane Fox from Portland, OR, for “Desire” and “Break up;” and Margaret Stawowy from Novato, CA, for “Drugging My Mother.”
Kathleen Kirk is the author of eight poetry chapbooks, including ABCs of Women’s Work and Spiritual Midwifery (Red Bird Chapbooks) and The Towns (Unicorn Press). Her work appears in many print and online journals, including Confrontation, The Fourth River, Nimrod, Poetry East, Redheaded Stepchild, and Waccamaw, and she is the poetry editor for Escape Into Life. Her poems in the voice of French sculptor Camille Claudel were set to dance and published by dancing girl press as the chapbook Interior Sculpture. Her poems in the voice of Sarah Davis appear in Ken Kashian’s book of photographs, This Moment…in Sarah’s Garden.
Denise Duhamel’s most recent book of poetry is Scald (Pittsburgh, 2017). Blowout (Pittsburgh, 2013) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her other titles include Ka-Ching! (Pittsburgh, 2009), Two and Two (Pittsburgh, 2005), Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems (Pittsburgh, 2001), The Star-Spangled Banner (Southern Illinois University Press, 1999), and Kinky (Orhisis, 1997). Duhamel is a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts and served as the guest editor is for The Best American Poetry 2013. She is a Distinguished University Professor in the MFA program at Florida International University in Miami.
Past Dobler Poetry Award Winners
Donna M. Glass, a poet from Okmulgee, OK, is the winner of the
2018 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, sponsored by Carlow University's
Madwomen in the Attic Creative Writing Workshops.
Glass' poem, "The Grocery Store," with its singular, distinct voice
and its willingness to risk, distinguished itself from a field of
403 poems by 156 poets who entered the contest.
Poet Judith Vollmer, the judge of the 2018 Dobler Award, wrote this
about Glass' poem:
A haunting tribute-song, "The Grocery Store" constructs two
girls' long walk seeking home and safety inside fractured rural
America. Their companions are blackbirds, "walls of ragweed," and a
sacred friendship, intimate and delightful in its immediate palette
of "green" and "purple" paper-wrappings of candy. Dreams of
nourishment are shadowy and tantalizing, envisioned through
crevices of a rough-cut mosaic-a field, a world-only the girls are
capable of seeing. The girls' vision, glimpsed through a long-lens
of reportage built on sharp and relentless consonance, startles
with lack: "no garden," "side-yard," "half to share," and "always
falling back[.]" Simultaneously, the vision sings in steady flames
of open, chiming, slant, and eye-rhymes. That balancing act of
narrative-within-sound-stage reveals the poem's wonders.
Repetitions of "home" spit against "grown," in a landscape stunted
by familial heartbreak and a nation in which food is controlled
rows of iridescent Styrofoam
ordered like census data:
white hen/white egg, red hen/brown egg.
Real questions abound: Who among us counts? Who is shut out
or "stored?" Who depends on "dimes of kind passersby" (ghostly
strangers); and who, ultimately, writes the stories of girls-such
questions inhabit poetry's urgencies. "The Grocery Store" diverts
its lyrical pathways around mere didacticism, and gives us
tenderness, courage, space, and declaration alongside the simple
act of two friends setting "their shoes side-by
This is a stand-out in a group of excellent
As winner of the Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, Glass will receive
$1000; publication in Voices from the Attic; and
round-trip travel, lodging, and a reading with judge Judith Vollmer
on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at 4:00 p.m. in the Carlow University
Gailliot Center. This reading is free and open to the public.
2018's honorable mentions are Heidi Sheridan from Toms River, NJ
for "Dental Records;" Lillo Way from Seattle, WA for "child on the
delta shore;" and Lollie Butler from Tucson, AZ for "Woman of
Judith Vollmer is the author of five
full-length books of poetry including, most recently, The
Apollonia Poems (University of Wisconsin Press, 2017),
and The Water Books (Autumn House Press, 2012).
Her previous books are Reactor (University of
Wisconsin Press 2004), nominated for the National Book Critics
Circle Award and featured in the Los Angeles Times Book
Review; The Door Open to the Fire, awarded the
1997 Cleveland State University Press Poetry Prize and finalist
honors for the Paterson Prize; and Level Green,
Brittingham Prize, Wisconsin, 1990. She also is the author of
the limited-edition collection Black Butterfly,
winner of the 1997 Center for Book Arts prize. Vollmer has received
poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the
Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and residencies from The
Corporation of Yaddo, the American Academy in Rome, the Centrum
Foundation, and others. Her poems have appeared in Poetry
International, Agni, The Women's Review
of Books, Poet Lore, Cerise
Press, Prairie Schooner, The Fourth
River, The Great River Review, and many other
journals and anthologies. She has read her work nationally at
colleges, universities, museums and galleries, arts organizations,
and community centers. Her essay on Baudelaire, "The Stroll and
Preparation for Departure," is included in the Cambridge
Companion to Baudelaire (Cambridge University Press,
2006). Vollmer teaches in the Low Residency MFA Program in Poetry
& Poetry in Translation at Drew University. She is a recipient
of the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award of the University
of Pittsburgh and is a founding editor of the literary
journal 5 AM. She lives in Pittsburgh in the Nine
Mile Run Watershed.
Donna Glass was born in Dunoon, Scotland, where
her father was stationed for military service. She grew up in rural
Oklahoma. Having worked in law offices most of her adult life,
Glass considered a career path involving legal studies when she
returned to college at age twenty-nine but decided to pursue
English, for she dearly loved literary arts. After earning her BA
and MA in English (concentration in literature), Glass began her
career as a college instructor. For about nine years, she commuted
230 miles (round-trip) once or twice each week, pursuing a doctoral
degree in English/creative writing/poetry. She currently teaches
English and humanities courses as faculty at Oklahoma State
University Institute of Technology.
Deborah Allbritain, a poet from San Diego, CA, is the winner of the 2017 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, sponsored by Carlow University's Madwomen in the Attic Creative Writing Workshops.
Allbritain's poem, “Sorrow I Will Lead You Out Somewhere,” with its singular, distinct voice and its willingness to risk, distinguished itself from a field of 389 poems by 166 poets who entered the contest.
Poet Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, the judge of the 2017 Dobler Award, wrote this about Allbritain’s poem:
“I am always taken with forms refusing—turning against fixed: the villanelle that misbehaves. The title ‘Sorrow I Will Lead You Out Somewhere’ suggests threat, a reprisal, abandonment or worse to come. But the poem never fully abandons the fixed form. Instead, it twists the title’s threat, again and again predicting the ways sorrow will not be ghosted. (Indeed, the word sorrow appears 15 times in the 19-line villanelle.) Sorrow becomes an animated excess, haunting the poem, not quite held at bay by form. That is: this ballading—guided measures through which the speaker moves us, leading us out—cannot arrest shape-shifting sorrow’s progress, or our knowledge of its being, despite declarations meant to counter its personification. Rather, the poem acknowledges the speaker’s (and our own) likely engagement with sorrow, delineating here a life bound by heaviness and consumption that lists from sustenance to surfeit. ‘Sorrow/remembers that you ate an entire man in one year….’ The poem locates us ‘on the edge of the disturbed,’ while insisting, ‘Nothing says you must lie down’ here. This central tension—the possibility that a banal desire ‘for dim sum,’ ‘for a bucket of chicken after work,’ might veer towards sorrow’s barking madness dragging the chef home at gunpoint, ‘kicking the flimsy out of your screen door’—strains the initial (A1) refrain to an adynaton of ‘sorrow flattened across your bed like a zillion pressed violets.’ Here the poem delivers on the wildering its title promises! Though via the second (A2) refrain we are returned to familiar repetition of ‘your front door,’ by the time we reach it, sorrow’s been converted again, to a figure no one could have anticipated: a ‘mungo sun rutted on the steps.’ It will not give us break from its strange, transmogrifying beauty. I am transfixed by the transformation.”
As winner of the Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, Allbritain will receive $1000; publication in Voices from the Attic; and round-trip travel, lodging, and a reading with judge Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon in April 2018.
Honorable mentions are Linda Cheryl Bryant from Nashville, TN for “Pale Grass Blue,” Rachelle M. Parker from Montclair, NJ for “As I Recollect,” and Heidi Seaborn from Seattle, WA for “Escaping Loss in Inverness.”
Deborah Allbritain holds a master’s degree in speech pathology from University of the Pacific. She hopes to begin study next fall at San Diego State University’s MFA program in poetry. Publications and awards include: The Antioch Review, The Cortland Review, B O D Y Literature, Front Porch, Verse Daily, One, Michigan Review, Connecticut River Review, Cimarron Review, Eclectica, and others. Her poetry has been anthologized in Stand Up Poetry: The Anthology, The Unmade Bed, Harper Collins, The Book of Birth Poetry, and In the Palm of Your Hand (Tilbury House). She received two Pushcart Prize nominations in 2015. Her poem, “The Fire,” was a finalist for the Wabash Poetry Prize.
Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon is the author of Open Interval, a 2009 National Book Award finalist, and Black Swan, winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, as well as Poems in Conversation and a Conversation, a chapbook collaboration with Elizabeth Alexander. She is currently at work on The Coal Tar Colors, her third poetry collection, and Purchase, a collection of essays. She has written plays and lyrics for The Cherry, an Ithaca arts collective. She was one of ten celebrated poets commissioned to write poems inspired by Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series in conjunction with the 2015 exhibit One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Works for MoMA.
Dana Salvador, a poet from Albuquerque, NM, is the winner of the 2016 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, sponsored by Carlow University's Madwomen in the Attic Creative Writing Workshops.
Salvador's poem, “After the Accident,” distinguished itself with its singular, distinct voice and its willingness to take a risk from a field of more than 365 poems by 148 poets who entered the contest.
Poet Allison Hedge Coke, the judge of the 2016 Dobler Award, wrote this about Salvador’s poem: “‘After the Accident’ is a stunningly beautiful poem of death and transference. Its content offers unexpected departure a realm of continuance. It is an exceptional juncture of split-second fatality and comfort. Deft pacing brings the reader into awareness just as the subject lands in the confusion of disaster. This is tough to pull off and yet, here, it is seamless. The narrative is told in ten couplets. Each set is rich with effective imagery and compels the reader by unfolding the details of scene; the aftermath of wreck suffered by a cousin. A mechanic, in life, the cousin surmises the situation, thinking he ‘can fix almost anything, even this wreck.’ By the time we witness him reaching out to touch the vehicle, we suddenly know his hand will pass through it. Just as we share the breath of demise, the poet surprises us again, with an appearance of the shared ancestor, ‘Our grandfather’ who ‘puts an arm over his shoulder’ and leads him into horizon, ‘as light distills them each to dust.’ The certain beauty here is well-rendered, providing minimization of the material world, of embodiment, and significant reprieve. There is no mourning, no grief, no sentimentality, only a beautiful gathering of souls on the edge of day. I love the fullness of the piece, the immediate familiarity and relevance it offers, the succinctness. This poem is memorable, one for the books. The turn carried out so beautifully, it stills reckoning just as reason breaks. Fascinating. ‘After the Accident’ is truly remarkable.”
As winner of the Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, Salvador will receive $1000; publication in Voices from the Attic; and round-trip travel, lodging, and a reading with judge Allison Hedge Coke on April 1, 2017.
Honorable mentions are Larisa W. Harriger from Duvall, WA for “Bones (fear cooked),” Cindy Snow from Shelburne Falls, MA for “Ruby-Topaz Hummingbird with Pinktoe Tarantula,” and Katy E. Ellis from Seattle, WA for “Deciduous.”
Allison Hedge Coke’s authored books include: The Year of the Rat (chapbook), Dog Road Woman, Off-Season City Pipe, Streaming, Blood Run (poetry/verse-play); and a memoir, Rock Ghost, Willow, Deer. Hedge Coke has edited eight additional collections, including: Sing: Poetry of the Indigenous Americas, Effigies (Pacific Rim), Effigies II (US Continent), and Ahani (ToTopos). Current projects include Burn (MadHat Press 2016), Effigies III (Pacific Island) (2017), and the Red Dust film-media-lit-music project (in production). Hedge Coke directs the Literary Sandhill Crane Retreat & Festival and has been awarded fellowships/residencies with Lannan Foundation, Weymouth Center for the Arts, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, MacDowell Colony, Hawthornden Castle, Great Plains Center, and her honors include an American Book Award, Library of Congress Witter Bynner Fellowship, a Lifetime Achievement Award, a Mentor of the Year Award, an IPPY Medal, a Pen Southwest Book Award, three distinguished positions, and numerous literary and arts grants. She is a poet, writer, performer, editor, and literary activist. She came of age cropping tobacco and working fields, waters, and working in factories.
Dana Salvador’s work has been featured in the North American Review, Fourth Genre, Water~Stone Review, Cold Mountain Review, Red Rock Review, and North Dakota Quarterly, among others. Additionally, she is the recipient of a Vogelstein Foundation Grant.
Amanda Newell, a poet from Henderson, MD, is the winner of the 2015 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, sponsored by Carlow University's Madwomen in the Attic Creative Writing Workshops.
Newell's poem, "A Woman from the Infant Mortality Review Board Calls,” distinguished itself with its singular, distinct voice and its willingness to take a risk from a field of more than 665 poems written by 286 poets who entered the contest.
Poet Lynn Emanuel, the judge of the 2015 Dobler Award, wrote this about Newell’s poem: “Poetry faces the problem of making itself distinct from the common, everyday uses of language. Music has to make itself distinct from noise, and poetry has to take back language from the clutches of the internet, the W9 form, the committee, and the TV. It is this taking back of language that is at the heart of Amanda Newell’s powerful and brave poem, ‘A Woman from the Infant Mortality Review Board Calls.’ The title points to the poem’s struggle. The ‘Infant Mortality Review Board,’ invades the narrator’s world with ever more ridiculous and intrusive questions, and after those questions, (are you an addict, a smoker, did you have a doctor) asks to be let into the narrator’s home. Brutal language is present throughout this fierce poem: ‘the resident/shoved his gloved/fist into me/to ripen my cervix’. Against its awfulness the narrator tenderly asserts herself. Unlike the ‘specialist’ who describes what is on the sonogram as ‘club-/foot and cleft palate’ the narrator/mother offers her own language ‘fingers like vines,’ ‘a shiny bruised/doll, small enough/ to fit into a wicker/Easter basket.’ The narrator brings into the poem the language of childhood, the language of a growing, green world, the language of divine birth. Beyond even this effort, however, the poet offers her stunning ending (‘and whose silence/was welcome’) in which she asserts that, perhaps, the only possibility of escaping the naming world may be the escape into death’s silence.”
As winner of the Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, Newell will receive $1000; publication in Voices from the Attic; and round-trip travel, lodging, and a reading with judge Lynn Emanuel on April 8, 2016.
Honorable mentions include Linda Blaskey, from Lincoln, DE, for "Pulling Through;" Yolanda Franklin, from Tallahassee, FL, for "White Room Syndrome;" and Jill Osier, from Fairbanks, AK, for "Ursus."
Lynn Emanuel is the judge of the 2015 Patricia Dobler Award. Emanuel is the author of five books of poetry: The Nerve of It, Poems New and Selected; Noose and Hook; Then Suddenly—; The Dig; and Hotel Fiesta. Her work has been featured in the Pushcart Prize Anthology and The Best American Poetry numerous times and is included in The Oxford Book of American Poetry. She is the recipient of two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Poetry Series Award, the Eric Matthieu King Award from the Academy of American Poets, and, most recently, a fellowship from the Ranieri Foundation.
Amanda Newell’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in such publications as Bellevue Literary Review, Gargoyle, Pearl, Pembroke Magazine, Poet Lore, Tar River Poetry, The Summerset Review, and War, Literature & the Arts. She has been the recipient of scholarships by both the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and The Frost Place. In addition, she has also been the recipient of a fellowship by the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She chairs the English Department at The Gunston School in Centreville, MD, and is pursuing her MFA at Warren Wilson College.
Th Patricia Dobler Poetry Award is sponsored by the Madwomen in the Attic Creative Writing Workshops at Carlow University.
The 2014 winning poem is "Float," by Wendy Miles from Lynchburg, VA. Her poem distinguished itself from a field of 560 poems by 219 poets with its singular, distinct voice and its willingness to risk. As winner of the Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, Miles will receive $1000; a public reading in Pittsburgh with judge Yona Harvey in spring 2015; round-trip travel and lodging for her public reading; and publication of her winning poem in Voices from the Attic.
The honorable mentions are Donna Steiner, from Oswego, NY for "Landscape with Ghost Train, Circa 1969;" Rosa Lane from El Cerrito, CA for "Down I-5;" and Dee Matthews from Brookfield, MA for "Wash."
The entries were read by poet Yona Harvey. Of Miles' poem, Harvey wrote:
Among the compelling finalists, "Float" is the poem to which I kept returning. The reasons to return were many: the deceptively simple and suspenseful opening stanza; the blues-tinged flashes of repetition; the cinematic unfolding of the poem's action; and the curious relationship between a child and her mother. This is a poem that details and charts its surroundings: "open door," "low sink," "open window," but whose destination is not predetermined. Like a curious child, the poem comfortably follows its nose. When the poem asserts, for instance, "[a] child is a breath," that assertion has been preceded by a joyful deliberation. And what to make of the mother in the second half of the poem? She animates the objects she touches, graces them with awe, and sparks the daughter's delight. And what of delight? The poem is filled with it.
Wendy Miles, a finalist for the 2013 Perugia Press Prize, has published multi-genre work in places such as Tupelo Quarterly, Arts & Letters, Southern Poetry Review, Hunger Mountain, storySouth, The Pedestal Magazine, The Chattahoochee Review, Caesura, The Dos Passos Review, Yalobusha Review, The Comstock Review, Hawaii Review, Richmond Magazine, and the Anthology of Appalachian Writers Ron Rash Volume IV. Nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize, Miles lives and teaches in Lynchburg, Virginia. New work is forthcoming in Alabama Literary Review.