Alumna Tiffany Midge Wins Kenyon Review Earthworks Prize for Indigenous Poetry
University of Idaho MFA alum, Tiffany Midge (poetry, ’08) was recently awarded The Kenyon Review Earthworks Prize for Indigenous Poetry. Tiffany’s winning poetry collection The Woman Who Married the Bear will be published by Salt Publishing. Additionally, she will receive a $1,000 honorarium and will give a reading at Kenyon College later this spring.
Contest judges Katherine Hedeen and Victor Rodriguez-Nunez commented on Tiffany’s collection: “In both content and form, Tiffany Midge’s The Woman who Married a Bear is the work of a mature poet. The collection offers readers an innovative representation of the social and cultural reality of contemporary Native America, in which humor is key. Its images and other poetic devices, as well as language, are singular and always carefully crafted. With this book, Midge undoubtedly establishes herself as one of the most relevant voices of her poetic generation in America.”
Tiffany, who is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux, was thrilled with the award. “I have been an admirer of the Earthworks series since its inception in 2005. Several indigenous poets (Heid Erdrich, Deborah Miranda, LeAnne Howe, among my favorites) published collections by Salt Publishing. [This award is] very exciting because there are very few Indigenous book series available.” Janet McAdams is the series editor.
The title of Tiffany’s collection is also the title of the opening poem, which was published in Poetry Northwest in 1995. “That poem exemplifies the mythic elements woven throughout the manuscript,” Tiffany says. “It represents interspecies congress which is a staple of Native creation stories, and which I’ve also viewed as a metaphor for my own mixed blood experience.”
Tiffany believes her time at the University of Idaho has contributed to her success. “I was fortunate to have met certain luminaries who were brought to the University of Idaho. Frank X Walker is one, Ron Welburn is another. The brief time I spent with others like John Trudell, Heather Rae, Robbie Paul and Natasha Trethaway impacted me quite a lot. I’m especially grateful to Professor Janis Johnson who was always so generous with her time and energy, as well as the professors and writers in the MFA program.”
Tiffany’s first poetry collection Outlaws, Renegades, and Saints: Diary of Mixed-up Halfbreed won the Diane Decorah Memorial Poetry Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas. Her chapbook, Guiding the Stars to their Campfire, Driving the Salmon to their Beds was published by Gazoobi Tales, and her recent poems have appeared in The Raven Chronicles, Florida Review, No Tell Motel, Quarterly West, South Dakota Review, Yellow Medicine Review, and Drunken Boat. Many in the Palouse community remember Tiffany reading a poem by Natalie Diaz in 2012's HooPalousa, a fundraising event for the American Indian Graduate Fellowship in Creative Writing.