Prof. Steven Leyva Wins 2020 Jean Feldman Poetry Prize
February 10, 2020
Contact: Office of Government and Public Affairs
Steven Leyva, assistant professor in the University of Baltimore’s Klein Family School of Communications Design, has been named the winner of the 2020 Jean Feldman Poetry Prize for his debut collection of poems, The Understudy's Handbook, which will be published by Washington Writers' Publishing House (WWPH) this coming October. The award carries a cash prize of $1,000 and a book launch event at Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C.
The Jean Feldman Poetry Prize contest is open to writers who live within a 75-mile radius of the U.S. Capitol in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. Staffed by previous winners who volunteer their time and skills, WWPH, established in 1973, is a non-profit cooperative press reflecting the cultural and racial diversity of the greater Washington, Baltimore and Northern Virginia areas. The prize committee comprises WWPH members who read the anonymous manuscripts and decide on the winner.
The committee was highly impressed with Leyva's manuscript, stating that they "admired the language and rhythms of the poems throughout." The committee also noted that "there's an expansive, Whitman-esque impetus here.... The richness of the idiom and the almost tactile quality of the writing work well with the book's themes."
This is Prof. Leyva's first full collection of poems, following years as an accomplished poet whose work has appeared in 2 Bridges Review, Fledgling Rag, Vinyl, The Nashville Review, and Prairie Schooner.
"Steven's colleagues in the MFA program are thrilled—but not a bit surprised—by this win," said Marion Winik, associate professor in the Klein Family School of Communications Design and a board member of the National Book Critics Circle. "His poems have been in my head ever since I read the manuscript—their music, their intelligence, their humor and elegance as well as their sharp edges and darker moments. The work is founded in a strong sense of place: New Orleans, Houston, and Baltimore all come vividly to life. There is an upbeat energy to the collection that is rare in contemporary poetry, and I can't wait to see the critical and public reception of the book."
Leyva is a Cave Canem Fellow, the winner of the 2012 Cobalt Review Poetry Prize, and author of the chapbook Low Parish. He has also completed several writers' residency programs, including the Vermont Studio Center and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass. Leyva has served as Little Patuxent Review's head editor for the past six years, publishing creative writing and visual art from the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond. Leyva is an alumnus of the MFA program in which he now teaches.
The University of Baltimore is a member of the University System of Maryland and comprises the College of Public Affairs, the Merrick School of Business, the UB School of Law and the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences.