The Nina Riggs Poetry Award



Memorials are a mixed blessing, obviously – the object of the dedication is always missing. The memorial only exists because we feel bereft, we need to fill a void. But memorializing is also a way of leveraging grief to create new things in the space bereavement leaves behind, which is why I’m really excited to announce that Cave Wall, a literary journal in Greensboro that was near & dear to Nina’s heart, has started an annual literary prize named in her honor.

I’m posting about it here for two specific reasons (beyond the obvious): 1. the prize is going to be based on nominations received throughout the year (you can view the prize info here so anyone can nominate a poem and I want to encourage anyone who might support a poet for the award to do so; and 2. I’m trying to help Cave Wall raise funds to support the prize.

There’s a FundRazr crowdfunding page set up to accept (tax deductible) donations to support prizes for poets who write in the same general milieu as Nina: highlighting the beauty and fragility of the everyday things in our lives, the stuff that makes our everyday lives magical.

I think Nina would really love this project. She had drifted away from writing poetry in the last years of her life. It didn’t suit her project after her diagnosis — for whatever reason she found a better vehicle in prose/memoir writing. But all her writing was steeped in the same basic love of imagery and storytelling. Nina wanted to illuminate the corners of her life that made it most vital and most vulnerable. Her only collection of poems (Lucky, Lucky, pictured above) is a good representation of her esthetic. The Bright Hour is, too. And this award was conceived in a spirit that fits neatly into her writer’s worldview.

The award will include a cash prize and also support travel and expenses for a reading held in Greensboro if enough funds are raised to support that. Our initial goal is $10,000, which is a lot of money, but would offer much-needed support to poetry/the arts at a time when that support is badly needed.

Thanks to Rhett Iseman Trull, Jeff Trull, and Adam Tarleton for coming together with all their sundry skills to make this happen. Right on the heels of the second anniversary of Nina’s death, it’s really nice to have such a beautiful testament to her love of writing and Nina’s appreciation of the beauty that surrounds us, which writers help illuminate.And thanks in advance to anyone who contributes.

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