2016 Lois Cranston Memorial Poetry Prize



Yiscah asks a question about horses

A retired Cambridge academic and expert in the origins of horse husbandry refused to help a 13-year-old Israeli girl with a school project “until there is peace in Palestine”


and is given a trial. Her age on one scale,
her name and country on another. Yiscah
is thirteen and already scarring like a mare

ridden too hard. Outside her window, purple
olives fall. Stone-fruit, she has learned to call
them. Inedible unless cured as her ancestors

cured these fruit, this garden, a century ago.
She picks a raw olive and swallows it
like a bolus. Bitterness is contrast, she tells

herself, tells the wild horses she wrangles
across closed eyelids at night. Lately Yiscah
dreams of open plains and solitude. She used

to long for communion. As she grows, Yiscah
is learning the meaning of breaking. How
to bear the weight of every fruit, the whole land.


Michal Leibowitz was born and raised in White Plains, NY. Her poetry has recently been published or is forthcoming in Bone Bouquet, Boxcar Poetry Review, and Spry Literary Journal. Michal’s work has been recognized by the Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose, the iYeats Poetry Competition, and the Lex Ann Literary Festival. She is a sophomore at Stanford University.



Click here for Morgan Grayce Willow's poem, "Tributary"

Click here for Rebecca Ellis' poem, "An Art"

Click here for Olga Livshin's poem, "To Russia, with You"


Judge Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita, has six full-length books of poetry: The Wild Awake, Blood-Silk, A Bride of Narrow Escape, Kindle, The Voluptuary, and most recently Understory, from Lost Horse Press in 2013. Her poems have been published in many journals and anthologies, including Poetry, The New Republic, Prairie Schooner, Notre Dame Review, Wilderness Magazine, the Internet’s Poetry Daily, and POETRY IN MOTION, which places poems on the Tri-Met buses and lightrail cars in the Portland area. The Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds chose a poem from her book The Voluptuaryas the lyric for a new choral composition that’s now part of the repertoire of the Choir at Trinity College Cambridge.

She was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and the recipient of the 2006 Holbrook Award from Oregon Literary Arts. In 2013 she received Willamette Writers’ Distinguished Northwest Writer Award.



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