Poet Holly Karapetkova, chair of Marymount University’s Literature & Languages Department, will give a preview reading of her second collection, Towline, at 6:30 p.m on Monday, Feb. 27. at Kramerbooks in Washington, D.C.
The book won the 2016 Vern Rutsala Poetry Prize from Cloudbank Books. This is the first year the prize, named after a beloved Oregon poet who died in 2014, has been awarded. Towline will formally launch with a reception and reading at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon on March 12.
“The event will also be a celebration of Vern’s last book, which was never really formally launched,” Karaptekova said. “It’s an honor to win this award and be part of this event in memory of such a beautiful poet and human being.”
Many of the poems in Karapetkova’s collection grapple with the untimely death to cancer of a close childhood friend.
“When you’re constructing things in words and language there’s a sense that you can somehow bring some of the complication and messiness into focus, which allows you to feel like you can grow and learn from them, and potentially be helpful to others,” she said.
Another section of the book deals with themes of immigration, exile and displacement.
“My husband is a Bulgarian immigrant,” she said. “I’ve adopted that culture, speak the language, and spend a lot of time there. When you live between two places, you have the sense of never being able to feel truly at home anywhere.”
Dr. Karapetkova’s poems and translations from Bulgarian have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Alaska Quarterly Review, North American Review, Huffington Post, Poetry Northwest and many other publications. Her first book, Words We Might One Day Say (WWPH Press), won the Washington Writers’ Publishing House Prize for Poetry. She has been nominated for six Pushcart Prizes and is the author of more than 20 books and graphic stories for children and young adults.
She holds a bachelor of arts degree from Rice University, an MFA in Poetry from Georgia State University and a Ph.D. in English and comparative literature from the University of Cincinnati.
At the upcoming preview reading, David Ebenbach will also read from his collection of short stories, “The Guy We Didn’t Invite to the Orgy.” Kramerbooks is located at 1517 Connecticut Ave NW.
David Algergotti, author of Millennial Teeth, praised Karapetkova’s new collection.
“The poems are expansive, ranging in structure from the freest verse to the elegantly formal, in theme from the broadly universal to the most intensely personal,” he said. “They all return, though, to that same inexorable human conundrum: how to carry grief, to carry on. They give no easy answer, but they help the traveler along the way.”
The cover of Holly Karapetkova’s new collection of poetry, Towline, which won the 2016 Vern Rutsala Poetry Prize.