The Honickman Foundation

2002 APR / Honickman First Book Prize Winner

Kathleen Ossip, The Search Engine

"I wanted to have a voice in the opera, or play flute in the symphony of contemporary poetry. For me, writing poetry is a deep need, a compulsion. Before winning the book prize I was writing furiously, honing my craft, and trying to perfect my poems."

Kathleen Ossip clearly perfected her poems enough to be chosen as the 2002 Book Prize recipient.

The Simp
Cuando en el train, en el ghost train,
con los guns y los wallets, you drip
ice sweats. Cuando en la booth, you talk
long time. Some dumb hoodoo man dagnabbed
you for your sins! You ain't no psychic.
You ain't no shopper. Cuando en la
deli, you get a ham omelet

"When you accumulate enough works you start seeing shapes, forms, arcs, and a bigger picture in what you've written. They start to coalesce, and each individual poem benefits from being in juxtaposition with other works."

She also felt an affinity with that year's judge, Derek Walcott, in their shared musical style of writing.

"I noticed a very musical style to his writing, which I enjoyed. That 'music of verse' is also present in my poetry. And in his earlierworks he did some interesting things with diction, which I also do, so perhaps that's what appealed to him in my writing."

Kathleen Ossip reads "Rants"


One of the best things that Kathleen feels happened to her as a result of winning the prize was that she now had a voice, and was part of an ongoing conversation.

"This book prize was a fabulous opportunity because it's so visible. APR is such a respected journal, it has a consistently high standard, and has excellent judges. The respect that people have for it in the field of poetry is beyond compare."

Following publication, Kathleen's book The Search Engine was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She also published a chapbook of movie poems in 2006 and her second book, The Cold War, will be published by Sarabande in 2011. In addition to receiving numerous fellowships and grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Ragdale Foundation and Yaddo, Kathleen is the Poetry Editor of Women's Studies Quarterly and teachers at The New School in New York where she serves as an Editor at Large for LIT .

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