Austin Community College announces the winner of the 2014 Balcones Poetry Prize: ONCE IN THE WEST (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux) by Christian Wiman

The Creative Writing Department and the Division of Arts and Humanities at Austin Community College are pleased to announce the 2014 Balcones Poetry Prize. The prize of $1,500 recognizes an outstanding book of poetry published during the year.

Once in the West, published by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, is the fourth collection of poetry by Christian Wiman, who is also the author of two books of prose. Born and rasied in West Texas, he earned a BA from Washington and Lee University and has taught at Northwestern University, Stanford University, Lynchburg College and the Prague School of Economics. From 2003 to 2013, he was editor of Poetry magazine. He currently teaches in the Yale Divinity School and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music.

Christian Wiman
Christian Wiman

Wiman’s poems are known for their musicality as well as their exploration of faith and doubt. The judges said, “The startling, revelatory poems…remind us that wisdom, like rhythm, is a necessary ingredient of poetry.” His “lines of arresting emotional accuracy” are “often edgy with recognition of human frailty, both spiritual and physical.” His “daringly spare, ceaselessly inventive music, his distinctive and heartening mix of earthiness and questing spiritualty” are “meant as a thrilling wake-up and usable courage-stone to spur us through “lordless mornings.” “I don’t know another contemporary poet who conjures such trill and song from our language…but I love this book equally for its fearless engagement with big ideas—faith, memory, illness, and amidst what is left, “days veined with grace.”

Four finalists were also named:

  •  Storm Toward Morning, Malachi Black (Copper Canyon Press)
  • A Woman Without a Country, Eavan Boland (W. W. Norton and Company)
  • The New Testament, Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press)
  • To the Bramble and the Briar, Steve Scafidi (The University of Arkansas Press)

The judges for the 2014 prize were Cyrus Cassells, a poet and professor at Texas State University; Vive Griffith, a poet, director of the Free Minds project at the Univeristy of Texas, and professor of creative writing at Austin Community College; and Chris Leche, a poet and professor of creative writing at Austin Community College.

Former winners of the Balcones Poetry Prize:

  • Jessica Piazza, Interrobang, 2013
  • Natalie Diaz, When My Brother Was an Aztec, 2012
  • Mark Jarmon, Bone Fires, 2011
  • Chase Twichell, Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been, 2010
  • Bill Berkson, Portrait and Dream, 2009
  • Michael McGriff, Dismantling the Hills, 2008
  • Aimee Nezhukumatahil, At the Drive–In Volcano, 2007
  • Lorna Dee Cervantes, Drive, 2006
  • Aaron Anstett, No Accident, 2005
  • Lorenzo Thomas, Dancing on Main Street, 2004
  • John Hogden, Bread Without Sorrow, 2002
  • Carol Potter, Short History of Pets, 2001
  • Dana Levin, In the Surgical Theatre, 2000
  • Arthur Sze, The Red-Shifting Web, 1999
  • Reginald Gibbons, Sparrow: New and Selected Poems, 1997
  • Lucia Perillo, The Body Mutinies, 1996
  • Kathleen Halme, Every Substance Clothed, 1995

Austin Community College awards the Balcones Poetry Prize annually for a book of poetry published during the year. Nominations for the 2015 prize will be accepted from September 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016.

For more information: John Herndon, Austin Community College, 1212 Rio Grande Street, Austin, Texas 78701, 512-828-9368,

One Reply to “Austin Community College announces the winner of the 2014 Balcones Poetry Prize: ONCE IN THE WEST (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux) by Christian Wiman”

  1. Dear Editors:
    My book has a copyright of 2015 (actually published in March 2015) but the book does not have that exact date published in it. Is that permissible for the Balcones Prize? Or do I need a letter from the press indicating the actual print date?


    David James

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