CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The poet Karen Skolfield was born in Delaware, and one gets the impression that she isn’t too happy about that.
“Born in Delaware, can you imagine?” she wrote recently on her blog, karenskolfield.blogspot.com. “No one would make that up.”
She also fancies herself having a rather unique name. No one else in the world, she believes, has the name “Karen Skolfield.”
“Just me,” she posted. “No others. Well, there was another Karen Skolfield, but she married and changed her last name. And maybe there’s some teeny tiny Karen Skolfield who was born last week, but I sort of doubt it since ‘Karen’ screams the ‘60s and ‘70s.”
These blog posts illustrate Skolfield’s wry sense of humor, but when reading her poetry, one notices the presence of something deeper than a few comical lines. The poet Nancy Eimers recently noted, after reading a manuscript of Skolfield’s poetry, that she “became aware of something darker, smarter, harder, sadder, truer even than the wit.”
The works so impressed her that Eimers named Skolfield’s poetry collection, “Frost in the Low Areas,” as the winner of the 2012 Zone 3 First Book Award for Poetry, an annual contest hosted by Austin Peay State University’s Zone 3 Press and the APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts.
“I was so engaged by the voice in ‘Frost in Low Areas,’” Eimers said. “My first impression was of its liveliness and energy.”
Every year, Zone 3 Press brings in an acclaimed poet, such as Eimers, to read through the finalists of hundreds of manuscripts submitted from across the country. Skolfield’s collection was selected as this year’s top work, with Sarah Blackman’s manuscript, “Fourthspace,” being named runner-up. Zone 3 Press will publish “Frost in Low Areas” in the fall, and Skolfield will visit campus to deliver a reading.
Thankfully, she has since moved away from Delaware, now residing in Massachusetts with her husband and two children. That is where she teaches travel writing and technical writing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she also earned her Master of Fine Arts. She is a contributing editor at the literary magazine Bateau and her poems have appeared in 2011 Best of the Net Anthology, Cave Wall, Memorious, Painted Bride Quarterly, Rattle, Tar River Poetry, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verse Daily, West Branch and others.
For more information on the annual Zone 3 First Book Award for Poetry, contact Susan Wallace, Zone 3 editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.