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2020 Spring Debuts from Rona Jaffe Award Winners Ama Codjoe, Chelsea Bieker, and Fowzia Karimi

Please join us in congratulating these past award winners on their debut publications this spring. We encourage you to explore their websites and seek out their new books!

(l-r): Ama Codjoe; Chelsea Bieker (credit: Jessica Keaveny); Fowzia Karimi (credit: Christian Fagerlund)

Chelsea Bieker’s (RJF ’18) first novel, GODSHOT (Catapult April 2020) “Possessed of an unstoppable plot and a brilliantly soulful voice, Godshot is a book of grit and humor and heart, a debut novel about female friendship and resilience, mother-loss and motherhood, and seeking salvation in unexpected places. It introduces a writer who gives Flannery O’Connor’s Gothic parables a Californian twist and who emerges with a miracle that is all her own.”

Poet Ama Codjoe’s (RJF ’17) collection BLOOD OF THE AIR, Winner of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize (Northwestern U. Press, March 2020)

“Blood of the Air creates a new mythology, repurposing spectacle, stereotype, and song. Inspired by the fictions and frictions of the past, each poem in this collection complicates the next. Lush lyrical moments give way to fracture, vulnerability, and reinvention. Formally dexterous and refreshingly bold, the poems in Blood of the Air are urgent, moving, and fiercely imagined. Though blood can flow from the site of a wound, Codjoe seems to say, blood is also a sign of life.

Fowzia Karimi’s (RJF ’11) illustrated novel ABOVE US THE MILKY WAY (Deep Vellum, April 2020)

“Above Us the Milky Wayis a story about war, immigration, and the remarkable human capacity to create beauty out of horror. As a young family attempts to reconstruct their lives in a new and peaceful country, they are daily drawn back to the first land through remembrance and longing, by news of the continued suffering and loss of loved ones, and by the war dead, who have immigrated and reside with them, haunting their days and illuminating the small joys and wonders offered them by the new land. The novel’s structure is built around the alphabet, twenty-six pieces written in the first person that sketch a through-line of memory for the lives of the five daughters, mother, and father. Ghost stories and fairytales are woven with old family photographs and medieval-style watercolor illuminations to create an origin story of loss and remembrance.”

Here is a recent interview with Fowzia on Electric Literature:



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