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American Radiance
Luisa Muradyan
Winner of the 2017 Book Prize in Poetry

The winner of the 2017 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry is Luisa Muradyan Tannahill for her manuscript American Radiance, chosen by guest-judges Shara McCallum and Hilda Raz with Editor-in-Chief Kwame Dawes. She will receive a $3,000 prize and publication from the University of Nebraska Press. Tannahill is originally from Odessa, Ukraine, and is currently a doctoral student in poetry at the University of Houston. Luisa received her MFA from Texas State University and currently serves as the Editor of Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. She was the recipient of the 2016 Inprint Donald Barthelme Prize in Poetry and has had work appear in Poetry InternationalWest BranchNinth Letter, the Los Angeles ReviewRattle, and the Paris-American, among others. 

About The Book

Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, American Radiance, at turns funny, tragic, and haunting, reflects on the author’s experience immigrating as a child to the United States from Ukraine in 1991. 

What does it mean to be an American? Luisa Muradyan doesn’t try to provide an answer. Instead, the poems in American Radiance look for a home in history, folklore, misery, laughter, language, and Prince’s outstretched hand. Colliding with the grand figures of late ’80s and early ’90s pop culture, Muradyan’s imagination pushes the reader forward, confronting the painful loss of identity that assimilation brings.

About The Author

Luisa Muradyan is a PhD candidate in poetry at the University of Houston and editor in chief of Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. Her poems have been published in Poetry InternationalParis-AmericanBlackbirdNinth LetterWest Branch, and the Los Angeles Review, among other publications.

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"Through generous associative leaps, Muradyan turns a narrative of assimilation into a debut collection that is as playful as it is wrenching. . . . Muradyan reveals herself to be a savvy and thoroughly modern poet, observing her subjects with a dispassionate, often droll eye."—Publishers Weekly

"Luisa Muradyan's moving, wonderfully funny first volume of poetry merges an immigrant's passionate study of her adopted culture with Gen-X media obsession. . . . Muradyan is an enormously talented poet."—Annette Lapointe, New York Journal of Books

"Luisa Muradyan's American Radiance reflects the complexities of the immigrant experience, and, through humor, pop culture allusions, and lyrical playfulness, highlights the exodus from one's homeland and what it means to assimilate in America."—Pank Mag

“Luisa Muradyan’s playful, fresh, and tender debut collection shows how a brand-new poetry can be made from many different existing sources. . . . Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Talmud, Madame Bovary, Jalal ad-Din Rumi, and the lives of her Russian Ukrainian ancestors. . . . And we feel included too, as she constructs her innovative highways between inner and outer worlds. This is the real stuff of poetry: spontaneous, original, compassionate, and provocative—who knows, maybe the glow of her poems does testify to the stubborn persistence of an American radiance!”—Tony Hoagland, author of Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God

“At once historical, personal, tender, enraged, and aroused, Luisa Muradyan has arrived precisely on time in American poetry. These poems are alive, ecstatic in the earthiest divine sense, lucid where humor blurs with grief, precise when weeping breaks into song. Her force is the force of love, and her voice is unforgettable.”—Kathleen Peirce, author of Vault?

“In her vibrant debut, the Odessa of Luisa Muradyan’s childhood is magically wedded to an America, brash and colorful as a crazy quilt. These poems, brimming with wild, fanciful juxtapositions, with juicy pop allusions and joyous praise for the overlooked or the mundane, bring the wizardry of Chagall to mind, but the specters of exile, memory, and holocaust also emerge as dark threads woven into the writer’s alert and wondrous world vision. I salute this intrepid new poet’s up-to-the-minute friskiness, unfettered eroticism (“My breasts are like Aristotle and Plato / They never see eye to eye”), and quick-witted candor which make American Radiance, in all its gorgeous irreverence and reach, such an exhilarating read.”—Cyrus Cassells, author of The Gospel according to Wild Indigo

“Odessa, lost city of a lost childhood. America, lost country of the now (as promised by Bruce Willis). American Radiance is about searching, and Luisa Muradyan realizes that this is what it is to pray, to allow the search to reveal an invisible world.”—Nick Flynn, author of My Feelings