This award was created to promote the teaching and writing of metrical poetry which is in the style of Robert Frost’s own poetry. Metrical poetry follows rhythmic patterns, involving varied numbers of syllables but a fixed number of strong stresses in each line.
Southward teaches introductory Honors College courses on Shakespeare, modern fiction, film and comics, as well as upper-level courses on poetry and aesthetics at UWM. His first collection of poems, Apocrypha, was published by Wipf and Stock in 2018. A second collection is forthcoming from Kelsay Books.
“Of all American poets, Robert Frost is the one I feel closest to,” Southward said. “He loved traditional English prosody (or meter) but adapted it to accommodate our distinctly American speech patterns and diction.”
“There’s a deceptive simplicity to his work, an accessibility that conceals just how sophisticated and subtle a craftsman he is,” Southward continued. “That’s what I try to emulate in my work.”
Southward’s poem “Mary’s Visit” was selected out of 978 anonymous entries in the annual Frost Farm Prize by poet, educator and editor Bruce Bennett.
“It was an honor to be granted the opportunity to read so many poems by authors who not only willingly but joyfully embrace the constraints of writing in meter and traditional forms,” said Bennett.
“Except as those who choose to so know well such ‘constraints’ are not truly constraints at all. Rather, as masters of poetic craft-Robert Frost preeminent among them – invariably testify, it is these seeming barriers to ‘free expression’ that actually liberate and propel practitioners to the delighted discovery of precisely what it is they themselves, albeit at times unconsciously, need and wish to say.”
Southward was awarded $1,000, and will be a featured reader at the Hyla Brook Reading Series at the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, N.H., on Friday, June 14, 2019. The reading kicks off the fifth annual Frost Farm Poetry Conference June 14-16.