2018 Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize

We are pleased to announce the winner of the 2018 Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize. The final judge, Camille Dungy has selected: The Kid Next To Me At The 7pm Showing Of The Avengers Has A Toy Gun by Ashley M. Jones. Of the poem she writes:

The structure of the poem, with each colon serving as a bullet point in the poem’s unrelenting list, is vivid and sharp. The language is precise and the scene specifically drawn to open this world of horror to me. And, plenty is conveyed in this poem both via what is said and what is unsaid.

~Camille Dungy


The Kid Next To Me At The 7pm Showing Of The Avengers Has A Toy Gun

By Ashley M. Jones

: and is wearing black flip flops
: has commented, loudly, for the entire feature presentation
: is pointing it at his mom
: is clicking the plastic hinges on its expanding arm—fist for a bullet—so it sounds like scissors
: is still salty around the lips from his movie popcorn
: will later regret this tub of movie popcorn, intestine-bound
: is pulling the trigger over and over and maybe once in my direction
: is shooting up this whole theatre to the tune of this dramatic and opulent theme song
: is restless, but what else will boys be
: chatters about sequels, every word a click click triggerpull triggerpull
: is, incidentally, about the size of Tamir Rice
: is alive and will keep living
—and wait

do I need to tell you the color of his skin?


Ashley M. Jones received an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University. She received a 2015 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award. Her debut collection, Magic City Gospel (Hub City Press, 2017), won the silver medal in Poetry in the 2017 Independent Publishers Book Awards. Her second collection, dark // thing, won the 2018 Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry from Pleiades Press. She lives and teaches in Birmingham, Alabama.