Creative Writing Teaching Assistant Professor in the English & Comparative Literature Department Ross White is starting National Poetry Month off with a splash. His forthcoming book, Charm Offensive, was selected as a co-winner of the Sexton Poetry Prize for the best unpublished poetry collection by an American poet. The Sexton Poetry Prize, run by the UK-based independent press Eyewear Publishing, gives winners $1,500 USD, as well as publication and distribution in the UK, Ireland and the US. White shares the honor with Brooklyn poet Sarah Bridgins and her work Death and Exes.
Charm Offensive careens through ancient Rome, feudal Japan, and present-day Italian parks and museums, examining “the compromises people have made throughout history, compromises that leave them loved and hated, and the ways in which our own modern charms can leave us scarred and breathless.” Of the winners, judge Lloyd Schwartz says: “Every word seemed personal and deeply felt, as if both of these poets urgently needed to tell me what they were thinking. Not a single poem in either of these collections ended where I expected it to—as if each writer was engaged in the process of discovering in the course of a poem what it was they each had to say.”
White says he “could not be happier to have the collection recognized by a publisher with such a strong presence in the US, UK, and Ireland, and by a judge like Lloyd Schwartz.” The Sexton Poetry Prize is an honor connected with a larger tradition in the poetry community, with a strong group of current and past annual winners. “At a conference in Portland conference recently,” White says, “I ran into the 2017 winner, Faisal Moyhuddin, and we just embraced immediately.”
In addition to Charm Offensive, Ross White is the author of the chapbooks The Polite Society and How We Came Upon the Colony, as well as the micro-chapbook sin Wave. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Best New Poets, New England Review, Poetry Daily, Tin House, and The Southern Review, among others. His manuscript in progress, Guilt Ledger, was selected by Edward Hirsch to receive the 2016 Larry Levis Post-Graduate Stipend from Warren Wilson College. He has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers Conferences in Vermont and Sicily.
In addition to his position in the English & Comparative Literature Department, he is the Executive Director of Bull City Press, a Durham-based literary press focusing on chapbooks of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as the Editor of Four Way Review. He also serves on the Foundation Board for Beloit Poetry Journal. Since 2007, he has been a coordinator of The Grind Daily Writing Series, and with Ashley Nissler, he curates the House Party Reading Series in Hillsborough, NC. He is also the Administrative Director of the Frost Place Conference on Poetry. For more information about Ross White and his work, click here.