When asked to say a few words of the winning piece, “The Gun Joke,” judge Nikky Finney writes:
This poem’s acuity has much to do with the human truth it reveals, in a new way, a determined, nuanced, beautiful, uncompromising way. THE GUN JOKE’S highly thoughtful word choice and graceful line decisions, the subtle but sacred repetition it evokes about the subject itself, all of this and more is built into this winning poem. Last but not least, it is often the courage of the poet who opens his mouth and boldly speaks into the dumbed-down news of last week, saying with each stroke of his pencil: Wait! Slow Down! This is not old news. This is now. Won’t you pay attention? Courage counts.
The winning poem will appear in Indiana Review 35.2, due out in Winter 2013.
Jamaal is the author of the poetry collection Hum (2013, Alice James Books).