Alumnus Wins Inaugural Poetry Prize
He composed some pieces of forthcoming book while at Syracuse University
Poet Grady Chambers G’15 has won the inaugural Max Ritvo Poetry Prize. The award comes with $10,000 and the publication of Chambers’ book “North American Stadiums” by Milkweed Editions, a Minneapolis-based publisher of literary works.
“This powerful, absorbing first book has the sound and feel of a younger generation,” acclaimed poet Henri Cole, who judged the contest, says in Milkweed’s announcement. He praises the “brilliant language, intelligence and feeling” of “North American Stadiums,” adding “the solitary poet is always scrutinizing the world with the eyes of a lover.”[RKG1]
Chambers, a graduate of Syracuse University’s M.F.A. program in creative writing, was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. He has received fellowships from the Norman Mailer Center and the New York State Summer Writers Institute. He has published poems in outlets including Diode Poetry; Forklift, Ohio; Ninth Letter; New Ohio Review and The Cortland Review. “North American Stadiums,” his first poetry collection, will be published in June.
Riva Ariella Ritvo-Slifka and the Alan B. Slifka Foundation established the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize to reward outstanding emerging poets. It is named for Max Ritvo, whose first poetry collection, “Four Reincarnations” (Milkweed, 2016), chronicled his battle with cancer at 16. Ritvo died in 2016 at age 25.
Chambers, who recently moved to Philadelphia, is finishing revisions to “North American Stadiums,” teaching writing to middle and high school students, and continues to write. “I hope that each year will yield a handful of new poems that have some spark to them, something compelling at their center,” he says.
The Max Rivito Award was “exciting and unexpected,” he says. “A number of the poems in the manuscript were written while I was a student at Syracuse, and the book bears the influence of each of the incredible poets I had the opportunity to study with while there.” Some of the poems “reflect changes and insights they suggested,” he says. “The work of each of the poets on faculty influenced and inspired my work before I even attended Syracuse. It was their books that made me apply to the program in the first place, and it was the tight-knit and supportive community they work so hard to create that made my time there such a light.”