Sally Albiso Poetry Book Award

My poetry manuscript — The Pear Tree: Elegy for a Farm — has won the 2023 Sally Albiso Poetry Award from MoonPath Press.

I’m feeling stunned and honored and — even after a week has gone by — a bit disbelieving.

I’ve shared here some of my process in cobbling this book together, but just to recap, it’s the book that wouldn’t lie down and be “done.” Three years ago in a Hugo House course taught by Deborah Woodard, I rather shamefacedly introduced myself by saying I was working on a book of poems about losing my parents, adding, “I really should be finished with these poems.”

Deborah said, “Maybe the poems aren’t finished with you.”

That is exactly what it felt like. It’s about more than my mother and father; it’s about growing up on a farm, and it’s about giving up that farm after my dad’s death in 2010. It’s about letting go of trees, fields, cows, fences, wells, ponds, bee boxes, books, orchard trees, creeks, barns… It’s about my mother’s memory loss, and how keenly that paralleled our folding away the family place, the farm my grandfather had owned before my father owned it. It’s about…so much.

Last year I began sending the manuscript out as “Genesis” (meaning to evoke an idea of where I began, where I set out from), and despite having paid some hefty entrance fees, I withdrew it. It didn’t feel ready. Early this year I began sending it out again, rearranged, with poems added (and quite a few removed), with a stronger theme, or thread, poems about my maternal grandmother, running all the way through it, holding — I hoped — the long chronology together.

In May I reworked it yet again, and it was only then that I felt brave enough to retitle it as The Pear Tree.

I could not have been more shocked when it won. Lana Hechtman Ayers wrote in an email, “These are poems to feed the soul.”

They have certainly fed mine.

The book will be out this winter, and, never fear, I will be here, telling you all about it.


9 replies
  1. Bethany
    Bethany says:

    Thank you, Rita. One block I had was my reticence to tell the lost foal story (again), and your comment on a blog post last year helped with that. I’m not sure I can reconstruct how that worked, but I saw that couldn’t “not” tell it.

  2. Thelma Burgonio-Watson
    Thelma Burgonio-Watson says:


    Congratulations again !

    Looking forward to this feast for my soul.

    Thank you -Thelma

  3. Barbara Thomas
    Barbara Thomas says:

    Congratulations Bethany, I can’t wait to read it! Maybe you could do a poetry reading up in Bellingham.

  4. Janet B.
    Janet B. says:

    Oh Bethany, this is SO deserved! And wow —I didn’t know that it has the foal story in it, too. Oh hurray, hurray! I can’t wait to have this book in my hands.

    And that’s an incredible visual of a pear tree, but I suppose it’s a standard online image and not original work. Maybe you could make a trip back to the farm and do some photography there . . . .

    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      I’m thinking about it (the trip to the farm with my camera), but pear blossoms with a bee would be perfect.

  5. Jennifer Bullis
    Jennifer Bullis says:

    Bethany!!! Congrats on winning the Sally Albiso–this is fabulous news and I can’t wait to read your new collection!

    I seem to have fallen off your blog’s mailing list and have re-subscribed. I don’t want to miss any more of your wonderful news!


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