Rochester, N.Y. — The Philosophical Society of Texas announced Monday, February 7, 2022 that Matt Morton’s Improvisation Without Accompaniment (BOA Editions, 2020) is the winner for the annual Philosophical Society of Texas Book Prize in Poetry. The prize, consisting of a $2,500 purse, honors a book of poetry that must either be about Texas or have been written by an author who has resided in or who was born within the boundaries of the Republic of Texas as claimed in 1836.
Selected by Patricia Smith as winner of the 2018 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, Matt Morton’s debut poetry collection Improvisation Without Accompaniment embraces uncertainty with a spirit of joyous playfulness. These lyric poems follow the rhythms of life for a young man growing up in a small Texas town. As the speaker wrestles with ruptures within the nuclear family and the loss of his religious beliefs, he journeys toward a deeper self-awareness and discovers a fuller palette of experiences. Over the course of this collection, the changing seasons of small-town Texas life give way to surprise encounters in distant cities. The speaker’s awareness of mortality grows even as he improvises an affirming response to life’s toughest questions. Poignant, searching, and earnestly philosophical, Improvisation Without Accompaniment reaches for meaning within life’s joys and griefs.
Matt Morton holds a BA from the University of Texas at Austin and an MFA from the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. His poetry appears in AGNI, Gettysburg Review, Harvard Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Tin House Online, and elsewhere. His work has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He serves as associate editor for 32 Poems and is a Robert B. Toulouse Doctoral Fellow in English at the University of North Texas.
The Philosophical Society of Texas presents three literary prizes annually, each with a $2,500 prize: one for a work of fiction, one for a nonfiction book, and one for a volume of poetry. The winning authors are invited to attend the Annual Meeting to receive the awards and sign books. Winners were recognized at the Philosophical Society of Texas’ Annual Meeting at the Hotel Paso del Norte in El Paso on February 5th, 2022. Additional information about this year’s awards and judging panel can be found online at https://pstx.org/annual-book-award.
Written by Theresa VanWormer, Spring 2022 intern