Emilie Menzel’s record rabbit count for a single day is 51. Their gently haunted poetry hybridities appear in such journals as Passages North, Bennington Review, The Offing, and Copper Nickel, and are the recipient of the 2019 Deborah Slosberg Memorial Award in Poetry (selected by Diana Khoi Nguyen) and Cara Parravani Memorial Award in Fiction (selected by Leigh Newman). Emilie is currently the senior poetry editor and librarian for The Seventh Wave, curator of the creative library guide The Gretel, and a collections librarian at Duke University. She holds an MFA from UMass Amherst and an MSLS from UNC Chapel Hill. Emilie lives at the wood skirts of Durham, North Carolina and online at emiliemenzel.com.
Of the collection, Brown writes: "The world of The Girl Who Became a Rabbit is at once fabular and unflinchingly ours. And, in it, the body is at once a wilderness and a refuge, a site of grief and violence and a territory of fantastic transformation: “Within the forest, I real all desire as assault, all flocks of birds as /leaping hands, all hands: the creation of hands.” Recursive, ambitious, strange and beautiful, this book-length lyric explores the way trauma and abuse make a creature of us, and asks what it’s possible to become in their aftermath. “The history of a / child is the history of a body” Menzel writes. And, as if in recognition of this fact, the poem balances the registers of fairytale and scientific text. It is telling you a story. It is also probing—again and again—what telling a story does. I fell into this world of this book—its rabbits, and soft deer, sliced cow-eyes and wolves— the way you wade into a cold body of water, slowly and then all at once. I couldn’t put it down. And, when I finished, I was changed."
Molly McCully Brown is the author of the essay collection Places I’ve Taken my Body— which was published in the United States in June 2020 by Persea Books, and released in the United Kingdom in March of 2021 by Faber & Faber— and the poetry collection The Virginia State Colony For Epileptics and Feebleminded (Persea Books, 2017), which won the 2016 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize and was named a New York Times Critics’ Top Book of 2017. With Susannah Nevison, she is also the coauthor of the poetry collection In The Field Between Us (Persea Books, 2020). Brown has been the recipient of the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship, a United States Artists Fellowship, a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship and the Jeff Baskin Writers Fellowship from the Oxford American magazine. Her poems and essays have appeared in The Paris Review, Tin House, The Guardian, Virginia Quarterly Review, The New York Times, The Yale Review and elsewhere. Raised in rural Virginia, she is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Stanford University, and the University of Mississippi, where she received her MFA.
The runner up for the prize this year is Chelsea Krieg for Everything is Water.
The biennial New Southern Voices Prize is sponsored by Hub City Press of Spartanburg, S.C. It is open to all poets who have either never published a full-length collection of poetry, or who have only published one full-length collection, and who currently reside in and have had residency in one or more of the following states for a minimum of 24 consecutive months: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia.
The previous winner of this prize was Marlanda Dekine for their collection Thresh & Hold which was released by Hub City Press in March 2022.