It is no easy work to write a poem that is light and heavy, all at once, nor to write a poem that is bold enough to aim to uplift us, but this writer has accomplished much in 27 lines. This poem is like a magic trick in that it accomplishes so much before our very eyes seemingly with ease which masks the great labor of this effort. Bravo.

Ruth Ellen Kocher, Lucille Medwick Award

Things that will make or break a poem: rebellion. Unbending optimism. Prescriptions of song as panacea. Guiding stars. Goats, mentioned repeatedly. Detailed descriptions of dreams. I won’t divulge which of these “Migration Patterns” employs; only that it does so in just such a way as to amaze. This is a poet who pulls off, with grace, what so many of us ache to write—to manifest—but don’t quite dare.

Soma Mei Sheng Frazier, Tom Howard Award

This poem is powerful and shocking in its ironic use of birth and maternal metaphors to express multiplying pain. The ecstatic imagery entices and adds to the deep disturbance. At the end, the poem flips to an unexpected self-indictment. It is the literary speaker who foments her own suffering. This is a superb poem.

Lynn Levin, The Penn Review Poetry Award

Her poems reimagine both the ordinary and the tragic as an extraordinary surrealistic scene, much the way ribbons, washes and spirals of luminous, flickering green and/or purple and/or red that we call the Southern Lights transform any landscape. 

Chivas Sandage, Ms. Magazine

Melissa Studdard is the author of five books, including the poetry collections Dear Selection Committee and I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, the poetry chapbook Like a Bird with a Thousand Wings, and the young adult novel Six Weeks to Yehidah. Her work has been featured by NPR, PBS, The New York Times, The Guardian, Ms. Magazine, and Houston Matters, and has also appeared in a wide variety of periodicals, such as POETRY, Kenyon Review, Psychology Today, New Ohio Review, Harvard Review, New England Review, and Poets & Writers.

short film of the title poem from Studdard’s I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast (by Dan Sickles of Moxie Pictures for Motionpoems) was an official selection for the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival and the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, as well as winner of the REEL Poetry Festival Audience Choice Award. Other poems of Studdard’s have been made into car magnets, telepoem booth recordings, origami bouquets, and Houston City Banners and have won or placed in prizes such as The Lucille Medwick Memorial Award for a poem on a humanitarian theme from The Poetry Society of America, The Penn Review Poetry Prize, Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize from The Missouri Review, the Tom Howard Prize from Winning Writers, The Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize from Munster Literature Centre, and Aesthetica magazine Creative Writing Award

Her book awards include the Forward National Literature Award, the International Book Award, the Kathak Literary Award, the Poiesis Award of Honor International, the Readers’ Favorite Award, and two Pinnacle Book Achievement Awards. As well, her works have been listed in Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts’ Best Books of the Year, January Magazine’s Best Children’s Books of the Year, Bustle’s “8 Feminist Poems To Inspire You When The World Is Just Too Much,” and Amazon’s Most Gifted Books.

In addition to writing, Studdard serves on the advisory board of Roulah Foundation, is a past president of the Associated Writing Program’s Women’s Caucus, and is former executive producer and host of VIDA Voices & Views for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. She received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.