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Chaun Ballard wins the 23rd Annual A. Poulin Jr., Poetry Prize

 Rochester, NY—BOA Editions, Ltd. is pleased to announce that Chaun Ballard of Lincoln, Nebraska is the winner of the 23rd annual A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. His winning manuscript, Second Nature, was selected by celebrated poet and writer Matthew Shenoda from a pool of over 800 original submissions. Second Nature will be published by BOA Editions in April 2025 as part of the New Poets of America Series with a foreword by Matthew Shenoda. Ballard will also receive a $1,000 honorarium. 

"Much gratitude to Peter Conners and the team at BOA for this unexpected good news. I wish to express my gratitude to the BOA family and to Matthew Shenoda for having faith in Second Nature. For years now, I've been reading poetry collections by BOA authors, like Aracelis Girmay, Li-Young Lee, Naomi Shihab Nye, Matthew Shenoda, and the incomparable Lucille Clifton, to name a few, and it is my joy to be included in this community of poets," said Ballard. 

“In a year with so many incredible submissions that showcase the great range of contemporary poetry, to choose just one manuscript was far from easy, but Chaun Ballard’s Second Nature stood out as a work of serious engagement with craft and music and a considered range of myriad aesthetics. Braiding together the unencumbered memories of family lineage and African American history, Second Nature explores what it means to be shaped by others, to make a way in the world carrying the pieces of the imperfect men and women who brought us to this moment. Ballard’s poems speak to the idea of a continuum, articulating the life of the poet on his own terms without forgetfulness or a simple investment in the fragmented lie of the individual. These are poems of community and history, of the collision of time, of what it means to live in ancestry and in the particulars of place," said judge Matthew Shenoda. 

In addition to the winning manuscript, Shenoda selected five runners-up for the prize:

  • Ache in the Acres by Jordan Escobar
  • Irradiance by LA Johnson
  • Cowboy Park by Eduardo Martínez-Leyva
  • The Grace of Black Mothers by Martheaus Perkins
  • What We Did to Her Made the Water Rise by Meghann Plunkett

Chaun Ballard is a member of the poetry faculty in the Alaska Pacific University’s Low-Residency MFA Program, a doctoral student of poetry, an affiliate editor for Alaska Quarterly Review, an assistant poetry editor for Prairie Schooner, an assistant poetry editor for, and a graduate of the MFA Program at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Chaun Ballard’s chapbook, Flight, was the winner of the 2018 Sunken Garden Poetry Prize and is published by Tupelo Press. His poems have appeared in The Missouri Review, Narrative Magazine, The New York Times, Oxford Poetry, Poetry Northwest, and The Slowdown.

Established in 2000, the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize is awarded annually to honor a poet’s first full-length collection of poetry. The winner is selected each year by a nationally recognized poet from a competitive pool of manuscripts. Winning manuscripts are published within the A. Poulin, Jr. New Poets of America Series. Recent Poulin Prize winners have included Improvisation Without Accompaniment by Matt Morton, Documents by Jan-Henry Gray, Cenzontle by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, and When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen. Other renowned debuts in the New Poets of America Series include Rose by Li-Young Lee, Awake by Dorianne Laux, and The Philosopher's Club by Kim Addonizio.

Submissions for the 24th annual A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize will be accepted August 1–November 30, 2024 with the winner announced in spring 2025. Eligibility requirements and submission guidelines for the Poulin Prize are available at

BOA Editions, Ltd. is one of the premier independent publishers of contemporary poetry and literary fiction. Founded in 1976 by A. Poulin, Jr. to provide a venue for both new and established poets, BOA has released more than 300 titles, including more than 40 first collections of poetry. Many BOA titles and authors have been recognized with literary awards, including the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.


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