Poet Emily Tuszynska Wins Grayson Books Poetry Contest

MFA Alum, English Adjunct Faculty's Collection "Surfacing" To Be Published in 2024

Poet Emily Tuszynska Wins Grayson Books Poetry Contest

Emily Tuszynska's new collection "Surfacing" won the Grayson Books Poetry Contest, which includes a cash prize and publication by the Grayson Books imprint.

"Most of the poems were written during the decade of my life when my kids were being born and the years were going by in a turbulent rush," said Tuszynska (MFA, '02). "I think the attempt to get some of it down on paper was my response to the feeling that life was slipping through my fingers while I was too busy to pay attention."

The poet found every opportunity she could to write, such as on Saturday mornings and during occasional short stints at residencies. At these times she was able to slow down and make sense of what she was experiencing during the "enormous upheaval of early motherhood."

Tuszynska also displayed enormous patience and tenacity when finding a home for individual poems and the full-length manuscript. Poems in the manuscript have been published in journals such as The Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Mom Egg Review, and elsewhere, and have received numerous recognitions, including a Pushcart special mention, PRISM International's Earle Birney award, and a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg prize. The manuscript for "Surfacing" has been a finalist in poetry contests more than a dozen times since she started sending it out more than five years ago.

Contest judge Brad Davis said, "'Surfacing' is a steady, undivided run of poems, in the tradition of Anne Bradstreet, honoring a life lived—'the one I chose'—a life that got away from the speaker and welcomed three children—'a wilderness… // a taste I hadn’t known / I craved'—who, 'when / I no longer knew myself, they knew me.'"

"These are praise poems," he continued, "familiar with lament that revel in Whitman’s
miracle of touch—feet on 'wave-patterned sand,' the touch of sound on the inner ear, the
'weightless' touch of light 'on the seven receptive layers of the retina.'" 

Tuszynska holds BS in Biology, a BA in English, and an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University. Her poetry has appeared in many journals, including The Georgia Review, Indiana Review, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, and The Southern Review. In 2020 she served as the Artist-in-Residence in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

Publication is expected in early 2024.