Call for 2022 Balocating Prize Announced

January 25, 2022

The call for entries for the Balocating Undergraduate Prize for Poetry is now open with entries due February 28. The final judge is Jonah Mixon-Webster, who will announce the winner at his April 6 Center for Poetry reading.

The Balocating Undergraduate Prize for Poetry was established in 2011 by Annie Balocating (1979-2018), an MSU/Residential Option in Arts and Letters (ROIAL) alumna. It awards $500 to an MSU undergraduate in any major for a single poem.

This year's Balocating Prize reflects the Center for Poetry's 2021-2022 programming theme, Poetry of Witness, Poetry of Resistance.

About this year's theme, Center for Poetry director Lauren Russell writes:

We understand the theme of "poetry of witness, poetry of resistance" broadly, to include all the ways that poetry might document or bear witness to current events, ask hard questions, recenter marginalized voices, uncover secrets and buried histories, demand justice, and catalyze change. What issues or questions do you want to raise awareness about? What histories do you want to reckon with? Whose lives do you want to center? What dominant narratives do you want to disrupt, complicate, or challenge? Rather than thinking of personal and political poetry as fundamentally separate, poet (and MSU alum) Carolyn Forché calls for a third term, the "social," to suggest a  "place of resistance and struggle, where books are published, poems read, protests disseminated. It is the sphere in which claims against the political order are made in the name of justice."*

With the broad theme of "poetry of witness, poetry of resistance," we look forward to seeing a range of approaches to poetry as a social practice—that is, poetry doing work in the world.

We pay homage to Annie Balocating and her passion for bearing witness, catalyzing change, and working for social justice.

*Carolyn Forché. Introduction. Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1993): 31.


About the judge: Jonah Mixon-Webster is a poet-educator, scholar, and conceptual/sound artist from Flint, MI. His debut poetry collection, Stereo(TYPE), won the PEN America/Joyce Osterweil Award and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. He is an alumnus of Eastern Michigan University and Illinois State University. He is the recipient of the Windham Campbell Prize for Poetry and fellowships from Vermont Studio Center, Center for African American Poetry and Poetics, Images & Voices of Hope, The Conversation Literary Festival, and the PEN Writing for Justice Program. His poetry and hybrid works are featured in various publications including ObsidianHarper’sThe Yale ReviewThe RumpusCallalooPennsoundBest New Poets, and Best American Experimental Writing. 


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