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The Pear Tree: elegy for a farm

2023 Award Winner
The PearTree: elegy for a farm
by Bethany Reid

Judge’s note: The Pear Tree, an elegy for a farm is an elegant, sensory, satisfying collection of poems. Even in this nostalgic location, “chickens have to be fed, necks wrung” and still it is a place of “such good work.” Beauty and grief abound in nearly equal measure between remembered notes of “creeksong, birdsong, rain on leaves,” for “if a field of sorrow, another of joy.”


Praise for The Pear Tree

Bethany Reid’s The Pear Tree: elegy for a farm  is more than a haunting elegy for a farm; it’s a powerful evocation of childhood and a vanished way of life. In poems lush with detail, Reid renders the beauty and suffering of bygone days, not with nostalgia but with clear-eyed honesty, as each poem reveals its hidden facets. Under the watchful eye of a pear tree planted by a grandmother on homesteaded land, we witness the pleasure of day-to-day life rooted in the earth, the heart-wrenching loss of a brother, a father “who taught us to choose what matters and put a fence around it,” a devout mother who can still play the piano when words have flown. “Who will gather what we leave behind?” one poem asks. Moving freely back and forth in time, this well-steeped, finely-honed collection offers a complex, satisfying answer. 

—Holly Hughes, author of Hold Fast

Bethany Reid

The Pear Tree: $17.99

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Runner Up

To Walk the North Direction


Ciel Motai Downing

Judge’s note: Redemption emerges from an early deep connection with nature that is re-embraced after a life fraught with sexual abuse, exposure to toxins of many kinds during military service, and brutal work environments.


Sue Fagalde Lick
Vivian Faith Prescott
Donna Prinzmetal
Sarah Stockton
Jill McCabe Johnson


Bully Wind
Divination of Salmon
The Scarecrow of My Former Self
Tangled in Vow & Beseech


Deirdre Lockwood
Laton Carter
Jessica Barksdale
Joseph Powell
Joannie Stangeland
Richard Widerkehr
Lois Parker Edstrom
J.I. Kleinberg

Honorable Mention

An Introduction to Error
Annotated Creatures
Cookies with Ghosts
Earthen Voices
House of Dream and Then
Missing the Owl
A Quiet Tune
A Trajectory of Shadows