Yona Harvey Receives the Kate Tufts Discovery Award

Yona Harvey, an assistant professor of English at University of Pittsburgh and the author “Hemming the Water” has received the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, a  prize of $10,000 given annually for a first book by a poet of promise.

The upcoming issue of Gently Read Literature will feature a review of “Hemming the Water” from Sally Deskins. Deskins is an artist and writer, focusing on women and feminist writers and artists, including herself. She edits the online journal Les Femmes Folles. Her first illustrated book Intimates & Fools, with poetry by Laura Madeline Wiseman, came out in 2014. And she can be found at Femmesfollesnebraska.tumblr.com and Sallydeskins.tumblr.com

Here’s a sample of Deskins’s review of Yona Harvey’s “Hemming the Water”:

Harvey gives voice to womanhood without playing to any one role or dimension, with lyrics that are so rhythmic you can almost hear them whisper and roar as you read.

Imagery stuns as she utilizes nature with the swing of life, exemplifying women’s strong intuitiveness and proximity with all life. She plays with poetic form, as some poems are read from top to bottom and side to side, forcing readers to relish each word, and some are tight and direct, embodying a genuine raw voice throughout as the narrator comes to.

Indeed, the story comes full circle as “Sound—Part 1 (Girl with the Red Scarf) introduces gracefully the inimitable young woman who “when at particular moments her ears were full of odd instructions & she needed to hear something across a room, she listened with the whole of her body…What does a girl with a red scarf hear? Only she knows, approaching the world from the inside in…” (3)

Harvey’s strong use of the natural exudes in “To Describe My Body Walking” as she plays with the role of mother-nature: “…She is my mother, / even if she is made of snow & ice & air & the repetition of years…Just her advancing, multiplying– / –falling through branches / –there’s a flurry of her.” With this we can feel our mothers as snow falling—though perhaps not present, our mother figures are always in the back of our minds. (5-6)

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