For our 2021 contest, judge Kayleb Rae Candrilli chose A Name Among Bone, by Mel Ruth.
Praise for A Name Among Bone:
“In A Name Among Bone we thumb the threads of the familial. Threads as thematic, threads as textile—as the linen passed down from generation to generation. We tether our dead closer with language, with utterance, with the history we shout at our landscapes. Mel Ruth knows that each one of us with blood is a historian. And, among the threads we thumb in this chapbook, so many mirrors. A hall of mirrors, revealing ghosts that are also our angels. Who hasn’t studied their eyes’ reflection, searching for ancestors? Drawn, with fingertips, the bridge of our noses in hunt for all the blood that bore us? A Name Among Bone hands us the fabric of a family. We are so lucky to hold it, if only briefly.”
–Kayleb Rae Candrilli, Contest Judge and author of Water I Won't Touch, All the Gay Saints, and What Runs Over
“Confronting family lore, race, and grief through a “genealogy [that’s] only ever known holes,” these poems fashion a creation myth from fragments of life-long stories told to the speaker, stories which blur the line between facts and the desire for something to be true. “But how do I gauge / the weight of memory?” the speaker asks, and Mel Ruth offers up these image-saturated lyrics in an attempt to answer.”
–Sandy Longhorn, author of Blood Almanac, The Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths, and Alchemy of My Mortal Form
Mel Ruth is a PhD student at Georgia State University, with a focus on poetry. Mel has pieces published in Pleiades, Emerson Review, New Pages, and more. They were a Slice Literary Magazine “Bridging the Gap” Finalist, and their chapbook A Name Among Bone, was a semi-finalist in the 2020 Black River Chapbook Contest, and the winner of the 2021 Cow Creek Chapbook contest. They/them or she/her/hers. Follow them on Twitter @_Mel_Ruth_.