SPARTANBUG, S.C. (courtesy converse.edu and Hub City Writers Project) — Converse MFA poetry student Marlanda Dekine is the winner of the 2021 New Southern Voices Poetry Prize. The prize, sponsored by Spartanburg’s Hub City Press, is offered biennially. Dekine’s unpublished manuscript, Thresh & Hold, was selected by award-winning poet Gabrielle Calvocoressi.
Dekine is a third-year MFA candidate at Converse University and is the recipient of the Tin House Own Path Scholarship. She earned a B.A. in psychology at Furman University and an MSW from the University of South Carolina.
Dekine’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Southern Humanities Review, POETRY Magazine, Emergence Magazine, Juke Joint Magazine, OROBORO, Screen Door Review, Root Work Journal, and elsewhere. Dekine is the founder and former executive director of Speaking Down Barriers, Spoken Word Spartanburg, and other organizations.
Of the collection, Calvocoressi writes, “I cannot and will not put Marlanda Dekine’s Thresh & Hold down. The world it builds, celebrates, and reclaims is a reckoning and a symphony. From the brutality of the rice plantations of South Carolina to the specific privacy found inside one’s Saturn Vue, the breadth of human experience that unfold in these poems cover histories that we too often forget are all intimate stories. Dekine reminds us that every moment we read about is a moment some body has fought or celebrated or been unable to live through. The effect of this is that we are brought into the vast music of a world that is endlessly unfolding, It’s fairly common to read poems that speak about community but there are only a handful of poets alive; Nikky Finney, Destiny Hemphill, CA Conrad come to mind, whose poems truly make community as the work blooms before us. This is a poet of that order and ability. I am so blown away by the gift and the challenge of this book. A book that not for one moment looks away from the brutality and beauty of this world. A book that says, “I am listening to Spirit. I am not dying today.”
The biennial New Southern Voices Prize is sponsored by Hub City Press of Spartanburg, S.C. It is open to all poets who have either never published a full-length collection of poetry, or who have only published one full-length collection, and who currently reside in and have had residency in one or more of the following states for a minimum of 24 consecutive months: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, or West Virginia.