Dobler Poetry Award

The Patricia Dobler Poetry Award is an annual contest is open to women writers over the age of 40 who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, currently living in the U.S., who have not published a full-length book of poetry, fiction, or non-fiction.

The 2015 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award 

Amanda Newell, a poet from Henderson, MD, is the winner of the 2015 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, sponsored by Carlow University's Madwomen in the Attic Creative Writing Workshops.

Newell's poem, "A Woman from the Infant Mortality Review Board Calls,” distinguished itself with its singular, distinct voice and its willingness to take a risk from a field of more than 665 poems written by 286 poets who entered the contest.

Poet Lynn Emanuel, the judge of the 2015 Dobler Award, wrote this about Newell’s poem: “Poetry faces the problem of making itself distinct from the common, everyday uses of language. Music has to make itself distinct from noise, and poetry has to take back language from the clutches of the internet, the W9 form, the committee, and the TV. It is this taking back of language that is at the heart of Amanda Newell’s powerful and brave poem, ‘A Woman from the Infant Mortality Review Board Calls.’ The title points to the poem’s struggle. The ‘Infant Mortality Review Board,’ invades the narrator’s world with ever more ridiculous and intrusive questions, and after those questions, (are you an addict, a smoker, did you have a doctor) asks to be let into the narrator’s home. Brutal language is present throughout this fierce poem: ‘the resident/shoved his gloved/fist into me/to ripen my cervix’. Against its awfulness the narrator tenderly asserts herself. Unlike the ‘specialist’ who describes what is on the sonogram as ‘club-/foot and cleft palate’ the narrator/mother offers her own language ‘fingers like vines,’ ‘a shiny bruised/doll, small enough/ to fit into a wicker/Easter basket.’ The narrator brings into the poem the language of childhood, the language of a growing, green world, the language of divine birth. Beyond even this effort, however, the poet offers her stunning ending (‘and whose silence/was welcome’) in which she asserts that, perhaps, the only possibility of escaping the naming world may be the escape into death’s silence.”

As winner of the Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, Newell will receive $1000; publication in Voices from the Attic; and round-trip travel, lodging, and a reading with judge Lynn Emanuel on April 8, 2016.
Honorable mentions include Linda Blaskey, from Lincoln, DE, for "Pulling Through;" Yolanda Franklin, from Tallahassee, FL, for "White Room Syndrome;" and Jill Osier, from Fairbanks, AK, for "Ursus."

Lynn Emanuel is the judge of the 2015 Patricia Dobler Award. Emanuel is the author of five books of poetry: The Nerve of It, Poems New and Selected; Noose and Hook; Then Suddenly—; The Dig; and Hotel Fiesta. Her work has been featured in the Pushcart Prize Anthology and The Best American Poetry numerous times and is included in The Oxford Book of American Poetry. She is the recipient of two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Poetry Series Award, the Eric Matthieu King Award from the Academy of American Poets, and, most recently, a fellowship from the Ranieri Foundation.

A Woman from the Infant Mortality Review Board Calls
Amanda Newell

No, I am not an addict.
Yes, I had a doctor.
No, we are not smokers.
No, I do not want you
coming to our home.

You could see it
on the sonogram’s
chalk sketch, the club-
foot and cleft palate,
fingers like vines.
Some extra ones.
A one-in-ten-thousand
error of cell division,
the specialist said.
Most women
miscarry before it gets
this far.

Thirty hours
after the pitocin
and morphine,
after the resident
shoved his gloved
fist into me
to ripen my cervix
with a kelp stick,
I gave birth
to a shiny bruised
doll, small enough
to fit into a wicker
Easter basket
and whose silence
was welcome.


Amanda Newell’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in such publications as Bellevue Literary Review, Gargoyle, Pearl, Pembroke Magazine, Poet Lore, Tar River Poetry, The Summerset Review, and War, Literature & the Arts. She has been the recipient of scholarships by both the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and The Frost Place. In addition, she has also been the recipient of a fellowship by the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She chairs the English Department at The Gunston School in Centreville, MD, and is pursuing her MFA at Warren Wilson College.


The 2014 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award

The Patricia Dobler Poetry Award is sponsored by the Madwomen in the Attic Creative Writing Workshops at Carlow University. Find the 2015 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award Entry Information here. The 2014 winning poem is "Float," by Wendy Miles from Lynchburg, VA. Her poem distinguished itself from a field of 560 poems by 219 poets with its singular, distinct voice and its willingness to risk. As winner of the Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, Miles will receive $1000; a public reading in Pittsburgh with judge Yona Harvey in spring 2015; round-trip travel and lodging for her public reading; and publication of her winning poem in Voices from the Attic.

The honorable mentions are Donna Steiner, from Oswego, NY for "Landscape with Ghost Train, Circa 1969;" Rosa Lane from El Cerrito, CA for "Down I-5;" and Dee Matthews from Brookfield, MA for "Wash."

The entries were read by poet Yona Harvey. Of Miles' poem, Harvey wrote:

Among the compelling finalists, "Float" is the poem to which I kept returning. The reasons to return were many: the deceptively simple and suspenseful opening stanza; the blues-tinged flashes of repetition; the cinematic unfolding of the poem's action; and the curious relationship between a child and her mother. This is a poem that details and charts its surroundings: "open door," "low sink," "open window," but whose destination is not predetermined. Like a curious child, the poem comfortably follows its nose. When the poem asserts, for instance, "[a] child is a breath," that assertion has been preceded by a joyful deliberation. And what to make of the mother in the second half of the poem? She animates the objects she touches, graces them with awe, and sparks the daughter's delight. And what of delight? The poem is filled with it.

Wendy Miles


An open door.
A child pauses on a step.
Her head turns, lifts to hear
her name float above the yard.
A child is an open door.

The child holds her breath
at the thought of what it means
—her name—stills
to hook it to herself with a bright pin.
A child is a breath.
A name is a bright pin.


A low sink. An open window.
A mother leans at the low sink,
shirt off, breasts pressed to a towel.
Barely audible, Oh, she says, it feels so good
you just can't believe it.
A daughter is an open window, a folded towel.

Shampoo the scent of ginger.
Warm water pours from a plastic cup,
spreads along the mother's pink crown,
neck, around creases at the backs of ears.
The daughter breathes in the mother.
Water dribbles from the chin,
from the daughter's fingers.

A mother is a low sink, warm water.
Animal, Animalis: to have breath.
Love is a plastic cup. Love is a breath.

2014 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award Winner, Wendy Miles Wendy Miles
A finalist for the 2013 Perugia Press Prize, Wendy Miles has published multi-genre work in places such as Tupelo Quarterly, Arts & Letters, Southern Poetry Review, Hunger Mountain, storySouth, The Pedestal Magazine, The Chattahoochee Review, Caesura, The Dos Passos Review, Yalobusha Review, The Comstock Review, Hawaii Review, Richmond Magazine, and the Anthology of Appalachian Writers Ron Rash Volume IV. Nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize, Miles lives and teaches in Lynchburg, Virginia. New work is forthcoming in Alabama Literary Review.