Balcones Poetry Prize 2011

The $1,500 Balcones Poetry Prize for 2010 has been awarded to
Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been by Chase Twichell.

The Balcones Center for Creative Writing at Austin Community College is pleased to announce the 2010 Balcones Poetry Prize. The prize of $1,500 recognizes an outstanding book of poetry published during the year.


Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New and Selected Poems, published by Copper Canyon Press, gathers the best of Twichell’s previous six books (since 1981) with a generous selection of new poems. The title is not only a clever turn of phrase, but also a serious reflection of her poetics. She gives voice to a Zen sensibility that, rather than offering all the answers to life’s problems, raises insistent questions. In poems of lyrical grace and stark reality, she goes looking for answers that have a mathematical certainty, and instead finds horses. In the midst of a witticism, we are made to contemplate the irreducible, irreplaceable, vanishing forms of nature. The 2010 judges praised her “honest and exquisite poems,” her “naked awareness” and “confident articulation” which are “never presumptuous or arrogant or rash.” “She has a gift for making the ephemeral concrete; thought wears the emblem of language but silent consciousness inhabits senses and intuitions beyond the realm of ideas.” The new poems in particular reflect “the second innocence of an adult mind open to the fearless vulnerability of childlike discovery—and resonating with images of childhood that counterpoint the insights of late middle age. This alternation of imagery infuses the lines with a vital dynamism…between the free animal nature of children and the adult resignation before death.” Twichell was editor of Ausable press from 1999 to 2009, and has won awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Twichell will visit Austin Community College to read from her book October 20, 2011.

Four finalists were also named:

  • Preliminary Report, by Jon Davis (Copper Canyon Press)
  • Winter’s Journey, by Stephen Dobyns (Copper Canyon Press)
  • Suck on the Marrow, by Camille T. Dungy (Red Hen Press)
  • Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty, by Tony Hoagland (Graywolf Press)

The judges for the 2010 prize were Robert Bonazzi, a San Antonio poet, critic and biographer; Elizabeth Scanlon, a poet and professor at Austin Community College; and John Herndon, poet, professor and associate director of the Balcones Center for Creative Writing.

Former winners:

  • 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