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John Sibley Williams wins 2019 Backwaters Prize in poetry for his collection 'Skin Memory.'

John Sibley WilliamsMilwaukie resident John Sibley Williams has won the 2019 Backwaters Prize in poetry for his collection, "Skin Memory."

Williams, who serves as editor of the Inflectionist Review and works as a literary agent, will receive a $2,500 cash prize and publication of his book by the University of Nebraska Press under its Backwaters Press imprint.

Williams' receipt of the Backwaters Prize, an international competition initiated in 1998, follows a series of other honors. He is the author of four poetry collections, including "As One Fire Consumes Another," which won a $1,500 publication honorarium through the 2018 Orison Poetry Prize.

When Williams read at Ledding Library in 2013 as part of the Milwaukie Poetry Series, he already had won the HEART Poetry Award, and was a finalist for the Pushcart, Rumi and Pinch poetry prizes.

Kwame Dawes, a University of Nebraska professor of English who judged the Backwaters Prize, picked Williams' manuscript out of a pool of applicants who submitted their work blindly, meaning the judge did not know anything about the authors.

Dawes identified Williams' work as "splendid" for "never seeking to pander," while expressing complex ideas in "plainspoken" ways.

Click here to read the rest of the story in the Clackamas Review.


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