This year, former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins selected Childress’ manuscript from among 930 others as the winner.
2005 Brittingham Prize in Poetry
Susanna Childress, a second-year PhD student in English, was recently awarded the Brittingham Prize in Poetry, an annual award given by the University of Wisconsin Press which offers $1000 and publication of the winning manuscript. This year, former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins selected Childress’ manuscript from among 930 others as the winner. He commented that Childress writes “at the cutting edge of the long tradition of love poetry….she unfailingly delivers rhythmic and linguistic pleasures to her lucky readers as they follow the course of these inquisitive, unpredictable poems.”
Hailing from Madison, Indiana, Childress first knew she wanted to pursue creative writing during a freshman course at Indiana Wesleyan University with Dr. Mary Brown, who mentored her for many years in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction writing. After completing an English and Writing double major at IWU, Childress then received her Master’s degree in English at University of Texas at Austin, where she received a thesis fellowship from the prestigious Michener Center for Writers. Shortly before coming to Florida State University, Childress won a literary competition held only once every twenty years by the National Society of Arts and Letters.
Though the subject matter of Childress’ poetry is familiar—spurned love, abuse, infertility, dealing with cancer and the abduction of a young girl—by portraying these issues with care, she provokes the reader to consider the complexity of human love: how selfishness, fear, lust and even brutality might coincide with tenderness and loyalty.During her time at Florida State, Childress co-chaired Writers Harvest, a reading and auction that raises funds for Second Harvest; she also co-hosted the Warehouse Reading Series sponsored by the English Department. Childress has studied with Dr. David Kirby, Dr. James Kimbrell, Dr. Andrew Epstein, Dr. Nancy Warren, Dr. R.M. Berry, and has received generous help from Florida State’s Writer-In-Residence, Barbara Hamby. It was Hamby who helped Childress compile her manuscript, Jagged with Love, and said of Childress’ writing, “No matter where her eye falls—the mirror, those closest to her, or God—she is passionate, doubtful, ecstatic all in the same glance, as she gazes at the tsunami that bears down on us every minute we are alive.”
University of Wisconsin Press will publish Jagged with Love in October of this year.