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Department of English Professor Wins Prestigious Poetry Award

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Tyler Mills

Las Vegas, N.M. – A New Mexico Highlands University Department of English professor is the winner of the prestigious 2017 Akron Poetry Prize.

Tyler Mills’ poetry book, Hawk Parable, was selected from among 606 national entries for the award. The University of Akron Press will publish Mills’ book.

“This book is about a family mystery, with my grandfather, a U.S. pilot during the World War II era, claiming to be involved in the mission to drop the atomic bomb over Nagasaki, Japan,” Mills said. “My grandfather died, and I haven’t been able to confirm his role yet through research. His story became the catalyst for my poetry that explores this mystery, as well as the atomic tests in New Mexico, Nevada and the Marshall Islands.”

Mills said her poems in Hawk Parable examine the ethics of using atomic weapons, including the horrific impact detonations have upon victims who are harmed.

In praising Mill’s poetry, Oliver de la Paz, this year’s judge for the Akron Poetry Prize wrote: “In Hawk Parable, the poet traverses the terrain of familial taboo, peering into the past and interrogating what is reflected there in beautiful and painful lyricism.”

Mills has won a number of other awards for her poetry, including her first book, Tongue Lyre, the winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award in 2013. Her creative nonfiction won the Copper Nickel Editor’s Prize in Prose.

Her poems have appeared widely in publications such as the New Yorker, Poetry, Kenyon Review, Boston Review, the Believer and New England Review. Mills’ poetry is also featured in anthologies like The Best American Experimental Writing and The Book of Scented Things: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry.

Mills, who earned her Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Chicago – Illinois in 2015, joined the Highlands faculty the same year. She completed her MFA in poetry from the University of Maryland.

At Highlands, Mills teaches courses such as Introduction to Poetry, Poetry Workshop, Introduction to Creative Writing, Technical Writing, and Freshman Composition.

“In my poetry courses, I like students to think about the value of their personal experiences and how their poetic voice can be a beautiful tool for expressing the human condition,” Mills said.

She is the faculty adviser for New Mexico Review, an online literary journal graduate students in the Highlands University Department of English edit.

New Mexico Review gives students valuable experience editing and publishing a literary journal that includes national and global writers,” Mills said.

Mill is the editor-in-chief of The Account: A Journal of Poetry, Prose and Thought. She is a frequent presenter at conferences for The Association of Writers and Writing Programs.