CHICAGO HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER WINS LEADING UK POETRY BOOK PRIZE
THE SEXTON PRIZE, JUDGED THIS YEAR BY MAJOR POET KIMIKO HAHN, HAS BEEN WON BY Faisal Mohyuddin, for his debut poetry collection The Displaced Children of Displaced Children
Mohyuddin's work was selected from a remarkably diverse and competitive shortlist. His prize will be $1000 USD, and publication by British, London-based independent publishing house, Eyewear – and his book will be distributed across the USA by SPD and in the UK and Ireland by Central Books.
Final Judge Professor Hahn - Distinguished Professor, English Department MFA in Creative Writing & Literary Translation Queens College, The City University of New York - said of the winning book: “Mohyuddin's craft is composed of measurable touches that go hardly noticed. And the subject! Serious stuff , yes, but the collection contains a variety of tones and concerns. There is the jelly-fish in space (lament though the poem may be), a talking banana, binging on pumpkin pie. To be sure, the title refers to diaspora and the poems refer to families in and immigrants from Pakistan. There are a literal landscapes and clear memories to be enjoyed. And yet, because these poems are so well crafted and the emotion so well expressed, the subject matter is overtaken by such themes as boundary, legacy, loss, claim. Whether a long narrative poem, or shorter lyric poems, these are the works of a poet, mature in his concerns and thinking.”
Mohyuddin had this reaction to his win: “For years I have turned to Kimiko Hahn’s poetry to find beauty, inspiration, love, and, above all, a feeling of home. Few poets’ work moves me the way her work moves me. So when I learned Professor Hahn had selected my collection as the winner of the 2017 Sexton Prize, I was incredibly honored, elated, and quite honestly flabbergasted. This is undoubtedly an amazing honor, the depths of which I cannot fully grasp. For that, I am profoundly grateful to Professor Hahn and to everyone at Eyewear.”
Faisal Mohyuddin is the author of the chapbook The Riddle of Longing, forthcoming Fall 2017 from Backbone Press. He is the recipient of the 2014 Edward Stanley Award from Prairie Schooner, and his work has also appeared in Narrative, RHINO, Catamaran, Chicago Quarterly Review, Poet Lore, Crab Orchard Review, Atlanta Review, and elsewhere. New work is forthcoming in The Missouri Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and the anthology Misrepresented People: Poets Respond to Trump’s America. A graduate of Carleton College, Northwestern University, and Columbia College Chicago, and an alumnus of the U.S. Department of State’s Teachers for Global Classrooms fellowship, Faisal teaches English at Highland Park High School in Illinois and lives with his wife and son in Chicago. He is a proud American Muslim of Pakistani descent.
Eyewear books was founded in 2012 by Cambridge writer-in-residence Dr Todd Swift, and publishes works by leading poets, including Paul Muldoon, George Szirtes, Rebecca Gayle Howell, George Elliott Clarke, Hester Knibbe, Sumia Sukkar, Don Share, Keaton Henson, Jan Owen, Mark Ford and Elspeth Smith.
The runners- up are:
The Tilt Torn Away from the Seasons by Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers
Truce Country by Sue Hyon Bae
They will both be offered a publishing contract for Eyewear and a $200 USD advance as their prize. Of these Judge Hanh said: “In a very rich and complex grouping of brilliant collections, these still stood out for me.”
Mohyuddin’s book will be published in early 2018 in time for AWP, and will be formally launched in London sometime next year.
Last year's winner was American Purgatory, selected by Don Share, and written by Rebecca Gayle Howell. It was an indie best-seller this past year.