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Winner Named in 2013 Sandy Crimmins National Poetry Contest

Philadelphia, PA (March 2013) Philadelphia Stories, a non-profit literary magazine featuring the work of writers and artists from the Delaware Valley, has named a local poet as the winner of its 2013 Sandy Crimmins National Prize for Poetry.

Deborah Fries of Elkins Park was selected by judge and noted poet, Dorothea Lasky. Philadelphia Stories' Poetry Editor Courtney Bambrick calls the winning poem "an evocative and transformative piece that exemplifies a commitment to storytelling through image and momentum." Ms. Fries wins a cash prize of $1,000 and an invitation to the PARTY LIKE A POET celebration on April 19, 2013 at the Center for Architecture in Philadelphia.

Out of the hundreds of poems Philadelphia Stories received, the poetry board selected twenty-four poems, from which Poetry Editor Courtney Bambrick selected ten to send to the judge. Ms. Lasky chose Deborah Fries’ “Marie in America” for first place. The second place prize goes to another local poet, Kelly Andrews, who wins a $250 cash prize and publication. Honorable mentions go to Debora Gossett Rivers, Amy Small-McKinney, and Nissa Lee.

"It was an honor to judge The 2013 Sandy Crimmins National Prize for Poetry, read all of the amazing poetry that is being written today, and view so widely the exciting landscape for contemporary American poetry," says judge Dorothea Lasky. "I selected the poem, 'Marie in America' by Deborah Fries for the first prize for its springing lyrical quality, its sharp use of imagery, and voracious momentum. As the great poet Eileen Myles famously said in her poem, 'An American Poem, the message of Western Civilization' is 'I am alone.' 'Marie in America' gives us this message, in beautiful verse:  as the poet puts it, 'everything in America,' is 'softly glowing' in profound loneliness. I love this poem and I can't wait to read what Deborah Fries will write next." 

"This prize reflects the vibrancy of the Philadelphia literary community, and the serious support it provides to poets," says winner Deborah Fries. "I am very honored to be a recipient."

Philadelphia Stories celebrates April’s Poetry Month by recognizing these winners at the Party Like a Poet Happy Hour on April 19, 5-8, at the Center for Architecture at 1218 Arch Street. Entertainment will include rock cabaret selections by Brat Productions and readings from our winners. $25 admission ($20 in advance) includes food and beverages, entertainment, and more.

For more information about the prize or the awards ceremony, please contact

Dottie LaskyDottie LaskyAbout the 2013 Judge: 
Dorothea Lasky is the author of three full-length collections of poetry: Thunderbird (Wave Books, 2012), Black Life (Wave Books, 2010), and AWE (Wave Books, 2007). She is also the author of six chapbooks. Born in St. Louis, her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Columbia Poetry Review, among other places. She is a graduate of the MFA program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and also has been educated at Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, and Washington University. She has taught poetry at New York University, Wesleyan University, Columbia University, Fashion Institute of Technology, Heath Elementary School, and Munroe Center for the Arts. 

Sandy CrimminsSandy CrimminsAbout Sandy Crimmins: Sandy Crimmins served on the Philadelphia Stories board from 2005 to 2007. Sandy was a poet who performed with musicians, dancers and fire-eaters at bars, bookstores and festivals.  After earning a master’s in fine arts from the University of Ohio, Sandy moved to New York and became a stage manager for several theaters, and, in 1985, married Joseph Sullivan. Four years later, she earned a master's in nonprofit management from the University of Detroit. She, her husband and their two sons moved to West Mount Airy in 1989, and she began to write poetry and fiction focused on family issues. Her short stories and poems were published in a variety of journals, and her book, String Theory, was published by Plan B Press.


Deborah Fries
began writing poetry in earnest in 1994, when she moved to the Delaware Valley from the Midwest. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Powder: Writing by Women in the Ranks, from Vietnam to Iraq -- work nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is the author of Various Modes of Departure (Kore Press, 2004) and anticipates publication of a second book of poetry, The Bright Field of Everything, in 2013.

Kelly Andrews
is a 9-5 stiff living and working in Pittsburgh, PA. Her work has appeared in* Pear Noir! *and *Weave Magazine*. She will be pursuing her MFA this fall at the University of Pittsburgh."As a poet still getting her feet wet in the publishing world,” Kelly says, “this is truly a great honor to be recognized as part of the Sandy Crimmins National Prize in Poetry. I can only hope that my contribution will speak to Philadelphia Stories' readers as so many of the previous works have spoken to me. Thank you again for this wonderful opportunity."

Amy Small-McKinney
has discovered that being a late bloomer is quite wonderful.  She was the 2011 Montgomery County Poet Laureate, selected by poet, Christopher Bursk. Her new book of poems, Life is Perfect, is forthcoming from BookArts Press (April 16, 2013). 

Debora Gossett Rivers
is a Philadelphia native and the author of “The Working Mind of a Working Woman”. She completed her 2nd book of poetry titled “Running Into Myself Coming and Going, released in 2010. Created MALL SCIENCE proram for girls ages 9+ in 2008.  She is a 1981 graduate of Simon Gratz High School and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1985 from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been an Income Maintenance Caseworker with the Department of Public Welfare in Philadelphia since 1988. She is married and has two children.

Nissa Lee lives and teaches in southern New Jersey.  She holds an MFA in poetry from Rutgers University in Camden, and her work has been published in Raleigh Review, Requited, and Wicked Alice.

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