“Fat Jersey Blues,” a book of poetry by John Repp, professor in Edinboro University’s Department of English & Theatre Arts, has been selected as the winner of the prestigious 2013 Akron Poetry Prize.
“Winning the Akron Poetry Prize gratifies me no end. The competition is national in scope and has made the University of Akron Press over the past 20 years one of the most respected poetry publishers in the United States,” Repp said. “‘Fat Jersey Blues’ will soon exist between covers, which means utter strangers will read and, I hope, enjoy it. Still, making individual poems — and reading others' poems — in sweet solitude over a long period of time is for me the abiding pleasure.”
“Fat Jersey Blues” was selected for the Akron Poetry Prize from a total of 385 entries.
The Akron Poetry Prize is awarded annually by The University of Akron Press. The competition is open to all poets writing in English. The winning poet receives $1,500 and publication of his or her book. The final selection is made by a nationally prominent poet, with this year’s prize awarded by David Kirby.
Kirby is the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English at Florida State University. He has published more than 20 books, including collections of poetry and literary criticism. His poems frequently appear in The Southern Review, and his poetry collection “The House on Boulevard St.” was nominated for the 2007 National Book Award in poetry.
Kirby was effusive in his praise of Repp’s work, saying, “I know I’m holding a good book in my hand when I use the other to call my friends and read poems to them. How generous John Repp is. He zooms in on the moment, but he’s always glancing at everything that surrounds it. His funny poems have dark hearts, just as the sad ones are clearly written by someone capable of belly-shaking laughter. They tell wonderful stories, yet they contain chewy little nuggets that are often indifferent and even hostile to story.
“I’ve said elsewhere that a poem either writes you a check or sends you a bill, and ‘Fat Jersey Blues’ writes me checks faster than I can cash them,” Kirby continued. “Oh, and these poems make me do something else that the good ones always do: When I hung up after reading ‘Bob Johnson’ or ‘The Maltese Falcon’ or ‘Balcony’ to a friend, I sat down to write myself.”
A widely published poet, fiction writer, essayist and critic, Repp is the author of “No Away,” winner of the 2006 Give 'em Shelter Chapbook Competition; “Thirst Like This,” which won the Devins Award in Poetry; “The Fertile Crescent,” winner of the 2003 Lyre Prize from Cherry Grove Collections; “Gratitude”; and six limited-edition chapbooks. He lives in Erie with his wife, visual artist Katherine Knupp, and their son, Dylan.