Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry. 
- W.B. Yeats


Kerry Rawlinson has won the 2023 Princemere Poetry Prize.

kerry rawlinson

a brutish numbing

for a child who believed in rainbows        no clue
     came of atmospheric change so oppressive that it
         bent her forever. don't surmise any barometer
             took a moment       to prime her

for a climatic spectrum of phenomena        beyond
     the micro-crayola that inscribed her childhood.
         unprepared for such blatant disposal--
             abandoned        on a humid heap

of gestating little bitches with no        gentling hand,
     no guidance no air no run no dance no ease no
         pliancy, just rigid boarding school rules:
               shut up! fit in!--the me       in she

sheared. deprived of the rituals        of becoming,
     me petrified into numbness that scoffed at options
          of anything kind. bottled-in & shushed,
               she mortified       our philosophy;

changed our shades        like chameleons, hidden in
     plain sight; like zambian lilies bloomed only once,
          at christmas. she cursed curls, lace & frills
               & any sweetness        cupped in a girly

snatch. we stifled our feminine        twitch. for after
     lights-out in the dormitory, lots were drawn:
          the short straw had to perform her furtive
               role that night       as the boy. the boy:

secret protagonist of comfort;        soother of dis-
     tempered metal beds; partner in undercover rituals
          of belonging; spark of warmth igniting
               unloved,        cold-pimpled flesh.

(but did we secretly        hold onto the rainbow's
     arc of promise? if something bleaches into trans-
          parency, what's to see? or do prisms only show
               once the storm's been        released?)

Kerry Rawlinson has won this year's $300 Princemere Poetry Prize for "a brutish numbing."

Runners-up are Brian Billings' "A Feast in Five Courses for Kuwaiti Censors," Acie Clark's "Temperance (Tickfield)," Lorraine Jeffery's "Hoo-doo," and Victoria Melekian's "Field Notes from the Apocalypse." Each poet was awarded $50..

Finalists this year are Lindsay Adkins, Elizabeth Johnston Ambrose, Rachel Baum, Mary Buchinger, B. J. Buckley, Morgan Christie, Brad Davis, Khalil Elayan, Matt Gulley, Linda Flaherty Haltmaier, Judd Hess, Cindy Hill, Corinne Hughes, Michelle Lerner, Laurence Levey, Katharyn Howd Machan, Nate Maxson, Nathanael O'Reilly, Andrew Ranson, Stuti Pachisia, Hilary Sallick, David Sloan, Christopher Stewart, and Ellen Zhang.

We are grateful to everyone who submitted.

(Click the tabs above to see previous winners.)


Listed at Duotrope




Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.
- W.B. Yeats