Erica Trabold, winner of the inaugural Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Book Prize, delivered a reading from her new book, Five Plots, on Thursday, Sept. 20 in the Hirshson Ballroom. Five Plots will be published by Seneca Review Books, a new imprint of Hobart and William Smith Colleges Press on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
“The late poet and essayist Deborah Tall revolutionized the literature of place by changing our understanding of how potently we can be impacted by the conflagrations of landscape, family and memory,” says John D’Agata ’95, the 2017-18 Trias Writer-in-Residence and judge of the inaugural book prize. “Now, Erica Trabold kick-starts a new book series named for Deborah Tall with a debut that imaginatively probes its own part of the word through humor, history, speculation and hurt. This is a pinprick of a book with a very generous heart.”
D’Agata notes that the book’s “combination of nostalgia and landscape makes me think it’ll be the perfect inaugural winner of this new Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Prize, since its namesake explored many of the same issues in her own extraordinary works of nonfiction, such as From Where We Stand, A Family of Strangers and The Island of the White Cow.”
Trabold is a Nebraska-born writer whose lyric essays have appeared in The Rumpus, Passages North, The Collagist, South Dakota Review, Seneca Review, Essay Daily and elsewhere. A graduate of Oregon State University’s MFA program and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, she writes and teaches in Portland, Oregon.
Named for the late poet and HWS professor of English, the biennial book series was founded by the editors of Seneca Review, the Colleges’ national literary journal, in 2017 to support innovative work in the essay form, including cross-genre and hybrid work, verse forms, text and image, connected or serial pieces, and/or “beyond category” projects.
Tall, who taught literature and writing at HWS edited Seneca Review from 1982 to 2006, authored four books of poems and several nonfiction works, and was coeditor with Stephen Kuusisto ’78 and Professor of English David Weiss of The Poet’s Notebook, which originated from a special issue of Seneca Review. In 1997, Tall and D’Agata promulgated the lyric essay and helped bring it into popular awareness.
The submissions period for the next Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Book Prize will begin in the summer of 2019.