I recently heard that I have won the Philip Levine Book Prize for my manuscript Mexican Jenny and Other Poems. The book will be published this year by Anhinga Press, a respected independent literary publisher.
I have been overwhelmed by this good news. I deeply respect and admire the work of both Philip Levine, in whose honor the contest was established, and of Cornelius Eady, the contest judge, so this recognition is especially meaningful to me.
The title poem of this collection is a biographical poem about a woman who, legend has it, made a crazy quilt while she was incarcerated for murdering her violent partner, a man who was also her pimp. Although "Mexican Jenny" is based on the slim outline of the story of a real woman, I have filled in the gaps of history with my own fiction making. Since Jenny was a quilter, what I have learned over the last 13 years as a quilt maker myself, showed me the way to tell her story.
The pen and the needle are powerful tools that allow us to speak about human experience.