The Honickman Foundation

2010 APR / Honickman First Book Prize Winner

Melissa Stein, Rough Honey

"This is a great gift that my poems now have a chance to be more widely read and seen. I am looking forward to more readings and the opportunity to connect with a larger community of poets and people who love poetry."

Melissa Stein, 2010 Book Prize winner, has already connected quite a bit with the poetry community. She has had more than 70 poems published in journals and anthologies, was the recipient of numerous residency fellowships, and has won many poetry prizes and competitions. But for Melissa, publishing her work as a book is a welcome opportunity for readers to gain a fuller sense of what she has to say.

"A lot of my poems are different from each other so publishing a book is a chance for my readers to see the range of my writing. I play around a lot with form, voice, narration, and lyric so my book is a hybrid – it's kind of like saying 'here is what I do.'"

Want Me

Lemons crystallized in sugar, glistening
on a blue-glazed plate. The rarest volume
bound in blood leather. A silk carpet
woven so finely you can't push a needle through,
that from one edge is the silver of a leaf
underwater, and from the other bleu lumière,
first frost on the cornflowers. A duet for cello
and woodsmoke, violin and icicle. Tangle of
black hair steeped in sandalwood, jasmine,
bergamot and vetiver and jewelled
with pomegranate seeds. Panther's broad tongue
soothing hunt-bruised paws. Eyelids of ribbonsnakes.
Taut skin of a lavender crème brûlée. Split
vanilla pods swollen with bourbon. A luna
moth's wings, enormous, celadon, trembling.

Melissa had the opportunity to work one-on-one with Mark Doty, a poet she feels has great insight and exquisite language.

"Mark Doty's work had already affected me in my formative years, so one of the greatest things about winning this award was the chance to meet with him and discuss my book. He was very generous with his time, and he looked at the rhythm of the book and how it fit together."

Melissa grew up near Philadelphia and has been aware of the APR/Honickman First Book Prize for a long time. She considers APR one of the best poetry journals so for her there was no question that she would apply.

"It means a lot to know that the Honickman Foundation believes in poetry so strongly. They saw a need and filled it very successfully. I am incredibly grateful that this opportunity exists for first books."


Watch Melissa Stein read from Rough Honey on YouTube.

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