Erica Trabold’s Five Plots is the winner of the inaugural Seneca Review Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Book Prize.
“What I admire about Five Plots is the complexity with which it grapples with nostalgia — both its open celebration of how comforting nostalgia can make us feel as well as its acknowledgement that nostalgia can also mislead us into believing in dangerous fictions,” says John D’Agata ’95, the 2017-18 Trias Writer-in-Residence and judge of this year’s book prize. “And it does all of this through a discussion of the landscape, which is a unique lens through which to examine nostalgia.”
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.
Five Plots will be published by Hobart and William Smith Colleges Press in the fall of 2018, when Trabold will deliver a reading on campus.
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.”
Named for the late poet and HWS professor of English, the biennial book series was founded in 2017 to support innovative work in the essay form, including cross-genre and hybrid work, verse forms, text and image, connected or related pieces, and/or “beyond category” projects.
Tall, who taught literature and writing at HWS, was an innovative poet and essayist, and edited Seneca Review, the Colleges’ national literary journal, from 1982 to 2006. She authored four books of poems and several nonfiction works, and was co-editor 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 created what is now known as the lyric essay.
Founded in 1970 by Professor Emeritus of English James Crenner and Ira Sadoff, Seneca Review is published twice yearly, spring and fall, by Hobart and William Smith Colleges Press. The magazine’s emphasis is poetry and experimental nonfiction, and the editors have a special interest in translations of contemporary poetry from around the world. Publisher of numerous laureates and award-winning poets, including Seamus Heaney, Rita Dove, Jorie Graham, Yusef Komunyakaa, Lisel Mueller, Wislawa Szymborska, Charles Simic, W.S. Merwin, Eavan Boland, and Nathaniel Mackey, Seneca Review also consistently publishes emerging writers and is always open to new, innovative work.
In 1997, Seneca Review began publishing the “lyric essay,” creative nonfiction that borders on poetry, under the associate editorship of D’Agata. In that genre, Seneca Review has featured work by Anne Carson, Bernard Cooper, Fanny Howe, Wayne Koestenbaum, Eula Biss, Ander Monson, Honor Moore, Mary Reufle, David Shields, Joe Wenderoth, Terry Tempest Williams, Jenny Boully, and many others.
Individual issues and subscriptions can be purchased online through the College Store.
The submissions period for the next Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Book Prize will begin in the summer of 2019.