Saturday, November 23, 2019

Keith Kopka Wins Tampa Review Prize for Poetry

Poet Keith Kopka

Keith Kopka, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has won the 2019 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry for his first book of poems, Count Four. In addition to a $2,000 check, the award includes hardback and paperback book publication in 2020 by the University of Tampa Press. 

Kopka’s poetry and criticism have recently appeared in Best New Poets, Mid-American Review, New Ohio Review, Berfrois, Ninth Letter, The International Journal of the Book, and many other journals. He is the author of the critical text Asking a Shadow to Dance: An Introduction to the Practice of Poetry and the recipient of the 2017 International Award for Excellence from the Books, Publishing & Libraries Research Network. 

Tampa Review judges praised his manuscript for its clarity of voice and surprising textures of metaphor that elevate his appealing, informal language: 

Count Four starts by winning us over to a close relationship with the author. We are sharing experiences with a confiding friend, who tells us, ‘I've always wanted to climb behind the wheel of a Zamboni’ and boasts, ‘If I wanted to, I could lift this poem above my head, and hold it there like a cartoon dumbbell.’ Before we know it, we’re caught up in the real power of a poet driving a vehicle that can smooth and restore the surfaces, leaving them ready to accept fresh scars as the next virtuoso performance or power play begins. We brace ourselves to witness the approaching crashes. We cheer at each passionate shot.”

Kopka is also the co-founder and the Director of Operations for Writers Resist, an international coalition of writers resisting the erosion of diverse expression and humane values, and a Senior Editor at Narrative Magazine. He’s currently an assistant professor at Holy Family University in Philadelphia.

Count Four is a highly personal collection of poems,” Kopka says. “It’s a book about trying to reconcile the more toxic aspects of masculine identity and understand the forces that shape that identity.” 

Despite the hockey metaphors of the opening poem, Kopka explains that much of the book draws from a somewhat similarly rough, edgy, and dangerous musical environment. 

“Many of the poems in the collection were written over years I spent in and around the East Coast punk scene,” Kopka says. “Writing this collection was my attempt to make sense of how the things and people that I loved the most in this environment were also what was most likely to destroy me. It was an attempt to reconcile the fact that the reason I loved and desired them was because of their destructive capacity.” 

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This year the judges also announced twelve finalists:

Craig Beaven, of Tallahassee, Florida, for "Teaching the Baby to Say I Love You”;

Sigman Byrd, of Westminster, Colorado, for “The Unlearning”;

Richard Cecil, of Bloomington, Indiana, for “Fantastic Voyage”;

Bill Christophersen, of New York, New York, for “Where Truth Lies”;

Andrew Collard, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, for “How to Be Held”;

Craig Cotter, of Pasadena, California, for “Alex”;

Jon Davis, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, for “The Many-Body Problem”;

Karen Kovacik, of Indianapolis, Indiana, for “Portable City”;

Nicholas Molbert, of Urbana, Illinois, for “Playing in Long Shadows”;

William Notter, of Richmond, Virginia, for “Buying the Farm”;

Martin Ott, of Los Angeles, California, for “The Stars Beneath Our Feet”; and

Mike Schneider, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for “Festive Purple Inner Glow.”

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The Tampa Review Prize for Poetry is given annually for a previously unpublished booklength manuscript. Judging is by the editors of Tampa Review, who are members of the faculty at the University of Tampa. Submissions are now being accepted for 2020. Entries should follow the published guidelines and must be received online by December 31, 2019.

Complete guidelines are available at

or by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to The Tampa Review Prize for Poetry, University of Tampa Press, 401 West Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33606.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

A Memorial Tribute to Dr. Duane Locke (1921-2019)

Julius Duane Locke, 1921-2019

Duane Locke was one of the three founding editors of the Poetry Review at the University of Tampa in 1964 (with R. Morris Newton and W. T. Cuddihy), and while others came and went, Duane continued to edit the literary journal on his own until his retirement in 1986. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 1958, and he joined the faculty at the University of Tampa that same year.

Duane devoted his teaching and writing career to the University of Tampa, where he became Professor of English and poet-in-residence. His many years of professional service established commitments to poetry and to nonprofit literary and artistic innovation, outreach, and publication that have been carried forward to the direct descendant of Duane’s UT Poetry Review: today’s Tampa Review, now the oldest continuously published literary journal in the state. He inspired many of his students to devote themselves to poetry, teaching, and literary pursuits, and he left a literary legacy of dedication and passion. His letters and papers preserved in the Special and Area Studies Collections at the George A. Smathers Library at the University of Florida provide ample evidence of his vitality as editor, writer, and teacher. There is correspondence with other poetry editors and publishers (Fred Wolven, editor of the Ann Arbor Review; Harvey Tucker of Black Sun Press; Hugh Fox of Ghost Dance Press, Paul Roth of Bitter Oleander Press, and many other poets and former students, including Sylvia Krohn Scheibli, Charles Hayes, Helene Jarmol, Leo Connellan, William Taylor, Nico Suarez, Gerritt O’Sullivan, Sam Cornish, Jane Leonard, James MacQueen, Randall Ackley, and Roger Sauls, some of whom worked with him on the Poetry Review. Among the better-known poets included in his correspondence are Robert Bly, David Ignatow, Louis Hammer, Robert Morgan, and Diane Wakoski, all of whom appeared in the editions of the journals Duane published during his twenty-eight years at the university.

The editors of Tampa Review note with sadness and deep appreciation the passing of an inspiring Editor and Professor Emeritus. We want to share a tribute from one of his former students, which speaks for itself.

Tribute to Dr. Duane Locke
by Dr. José Rodeiro, one of his former students

Brilliant Florida poet Dr. Duane Locke died February 17, 2019. He was a leading light of American poetry from the 1960s to the early-21st century, standing as one of the seminal voices of his generation inspiring several generations of poets and artists involved in Linguistic Reality, Immanentism, Imagistic Poetry, Thing-Thing Metaphysics, and other contemporary poetic movements. He published many books, including: Duane Locke: “The First Decade (1968-1978),” Bitter Oleander Press. Courageously, Dr. Locke maintained full control of his brilliant mind and his energetic intensity until the very end of his remarkable creative life! In fact, Last year at the Poetry Convention in Tampa (FL), Dr. Duane Locke (at age 96) read his poems with such strength and power that he filled the room with “duende.” A year later, he passed at age 97 in full possession of his passionate, creative, and deeply perceptive “poetic-being.”

In 1921, Duane Locke was born in Plains, Georgia; consequently, as a small child, he played with his neighbor—little Jimmy Carter. His family moved to Florida, which remained his home. He lived in Tampa and on Sanibel Island. He earned his Ph.D. in literature from the University of Florida, where a hefty archive is kept about him.

A devout naturalist, Duane Locke had an overwhelming passion, fascination, and love for all living things, perceiving (innately “knowing”) concrete, specific details about every living thing. He fervently loved the Earth and every animal and plant inhabiting it, knowing their precise scientific names and specific details regarding their existence. Beyond Florida, Duane Locke loved Italy and all things Italian: opera, Campari, fine wines, Chianti, Italian cuisine, and Early-Renaissance art from Cimabue, Giotto, Duccio, all the way to Botticelli. He agreed with Picasso that Paolo Uccello was the greatest of all painters. Thus, he loathed High Renaissance art (he especially reviled Michelangelo), but passionately loved the Mannerists, particularly Domenico Beccafumi. Duane Locke believed that art reflected internal reality, valuing the Immanent (“the within”) over the Transcendental (“the without”). Thus he preferred William Blake’s poems over William Wordsworth’s poems; he preferred the visual art of William Blake over the art of Sir Joshua Reynolds. He valued French Surrealism, Spanish Surrealism, and Latin American Surrealism in poetry and art. Both nationally and internationally, he knew every aspect of modern and contemporary poetry, and was a scholar of Baroque Poetry (especially the English Metaphysical poets). He knew more and experienced more than any human being that I’ve known, always delving deeply into the tiniest hidden marrow of each particular “living” thing.