First Book Award winner July Westhale


Robin Coste Lewis selects Trailer Trash, by July Westhale as 2016 winner of Kore Press First Book Award

Trailer Trash is her Westhale’s first full-length poetry book. She is also the author of The Cavalcade, a chapbook, from Finishing Line Press, and Occasionally Accurate Science, a children’s book of collective nouns, forthcoming from Nomadic Press. She is working on several other projects at present, and also paints, makes comics, and embroiders. She is a regular contributor at The Establishment, and her work has also appeared in The Huffington Post. Her essays have been nominated for The Best of the Net, and Best American Essays. Her most recent poetry can be found in burntdistrict, Eleven Eleven, 580 Split, Quarterly West, and PRISM International.

Judge’s Commentary . . .

“I was wholly unprepared for the exceptional skill and aesthetic courage I encountered when I opened the book, skill and courage that remained from the first line to the last.  It is so much easier to perform rather than to be honest.  You can offer the world a mask, then walk away, pretending to be somewhere, someone. This is especially true when one is poor, or a woman.  But from beginning to end, these poems about both are neither cute, nor nice.  They are strong, quiet, new, unapologetic, even ruthless in their refusal to play any role, including “girl” or “poor.”  Which is to say, July Westhale constantly creates wholly unfamiliar constructions that run back and forth between that pole of both exquisite and horrifying with courageous agility.” – Robin Coste Lewis

In Her Own Words. . .

“When I  heard the news about the Book Award, the first thing I did was ask Lisa how it felt to make people’s dreams come true. Because this is such a dream, and one I never fully believed was accessible to me. I’m so grateful to be joining the Kore Press family, and to be doing so with Trailer Trash– a book about poverty and triumph and the ravaged California landscapes that rarely get discussed. It has taken a village to get this manuscript out into the world, and I am only one part of that. I couldn’t be more grateful–to my community, to the poets I so admire, to Kore Press– for this opportunity to engage in a larger conversation about class and home: what it means to love something broken, yet beautiful.”  – July Westhale