Alaska Pacific University faculty member Chaun Ballard has won joint first prize for his poem My Father and I drive back to St. Louis for his Mother’s funeral in the prestigious Bridport Prize international creative writing competition.
The competition’s Poetry judge, Inua Ellams describes “how the poem comments on abuses of power by police officers, deftly conjuring the uncomfortable yet familiar scene with: ‘I am asked to exit my vehicle/as if I had a choice/So there is a point in the journey when the frame holds.’ “
Chaun is a poetry faculty member in Alaska Pacific University’s Low-Residency MFA Program and a doctoral student of poetry at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He’s also an affiliate editor for Alaska Quarterly Review and a graduate of the MFA Program at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
He commends the poem’s halting startling imagery: ‘the hill stills/more or less/its green/& the dandelions become a haven/for the bees to stuff their pockets with gold.’ Chaun shares the prize with County Mayo writer Roberta Beary.
APU’s MFA degree, is a 36-credit program that takes just over two years to complete, with three summer residencies on campus in Anchorage. Students can complete the program from anywhere in the world, as long as they commit to two weeks on campus in late July each summer.