Peter Twal Named Winner of 2018 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize

Peter Twal, winner of the annual Etel Adnan Poetry Prize.
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Peter Twal, winner of the annual Etel Adnan Poetry Prize.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Peter Twal has been named the winner of the annual Etel Adnan Poetry Prize for his collection Our Earliest Tattoos. Twal will receive $1,000, and his collection will be published by the University of Arkansas Press in the fall of 2018.

Twal is a Jordanian-American electrical engineer from Baton Rouge. He currently lives in Lafayette, Indiana, and is an alumus of the University of Notre Dame and Louisiana State University. His work has appeared in Best New Poets, Kenyon Review Online, West Branch Wired, and elsewhere.

Our Earliest Tattoos challenges traditional notions about memory, forcing readers to confront the cruelty of how we blend collective and individual wounds to form constructed selves. The poems are written in sonnet form while at the same time bucking convention.

Our Earliest Tattoos was chosen by Etel Adnan series editors Hayan Charara and Fady Joudah.  Joudah said of the book, “Peter Twal's poetic energy combines the absurd with the grave, the hilarious with the profound, the wacky with the tragic. In driving lines filled with unrelenting rhythms, his concerns engage the gray zone where the injured, mortal self is also fraudulent. But he does this with kindness, with joy, and stark metaphors, through imaginative lexicon and constructed protagonists. In this wonderful debut collection, Peter Twal impersonates himself: the gifted American poet in his best suit in the gala of originality.”

Charara commented on the experience of choosing the winner of the prize. “Reading the manuscripts that have come to us, especially the winning books, makes evident the vitality and vibrancy of poetry produced by writers of Arab heritage.”

Hayan Charara is the author of three poetry books, and he is the editor of Inclined to Speak, an anthology of contemporary Arab American poetry published by the University of Arkansas Press. His honors include a National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship, and an Arab American Book Award. Fady Joudah is the author of four collections of poetry and five volumes of poetry translation from Arabic. His honors include The Yale Series for Younger Poets, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a PEN award, and the Griffin Poetry Prize, among others. 

Every year the University of Arkansas Press together with the Radius of Arab American Writers accepts submissions for the Etel Adnan Poetry Series and awards the $1,000 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize to a first or second book of poetry, in English, by a writer of Arab heritage. Since its founding in 1996 the Radius of Arab American Writers has celebrated and fostered the writings and writers that make up the vibrant and diverse Arab American community.

The Etel Adnan Poetry Prize is supported by the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Arkansas.

The 2017 winner was Jess Rizkallah for her collection the magic my body becomes, which was published by the UA Press in September.

About the University of Arkansas Press: The University of Arkansas Press was founded in 1980 as the book publishing division of the University of Arkansas. A member of the Association of American University Presses, it has as its central and continuing mission the publication of books that serve both the broader academic community and Arkansas and the region.

About the King Fahd Center: The King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies is an academic and research unit in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas, dedicated to the study of the modern Middle East and the geo-cultural area in which Islamic civilization prospered and continues to shape world history.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

Contacts

Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
University Relations
479-575-3583, voorhies@uark.edu

Melissa King, director of sales and marketing
University of Arkansas Press
479-575-7715, mak001@uark.edu

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