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NMHU English professor Tyler Mills wins Tupelo Press Award

Las Vegas, N.M. – New Mexico Highlands University Department of English professor Tyler Mills’ latest poetry book has received the Tupelo Press 2019 Snowbound Chapbook Award. Tupelo Press will publish Mills’ 2018 poetry book, “The City Scattered.”

Mills is also the author of two other books of poems, “Hawk Parable,” winner of the prestigious 2017 Akron Poetry Prize, and “Tongue Lyre,” winner of the 2013 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award.

“‘The City Scattered’ is about the women who worked in white-collar jobs in Berlin between World War I and World War II,” Mills said. “Berlin seemed to flourish during an economic crisis when many people lived in poverty. I was interested in the women who worked in Berlin and participated in night and city life. They seemed to shrug off traditional roles.”

Mills said her inspiration for the “The City Scattered” first came from the “Berlin Metropolis” art exhibit in New York City in 2015. She then researched the topic in the book, “The Salaried Masses” by Siegfried Kracauer, to gather information for her poems.

“I’m interested in how history can come to life for contemporary readers. In ‘The City Scattered,’ I wrote persona poems, which are stories told by historical or imagined figures,” Mills said.

American poet Cole Swensen, author of 10 poetry books and a 2006 Guggenheim Fellowship winner, made the final selections for the Tupelo Press 2019 Snowbound Chapbook Award. A chapbook is a short book that often focuses closely upon one theme, the case with “The City Scattered.”

“In a tone reminiscent of the era’s radio plays, ‘The City Scattered’ offers a range of spliced voices that construct a multi-perspectival musing on the ‘the new woman’ as she emerged in the labor and consumer culture of Germany between the wars,” Swensen wrote. “Mill keeps her language sharp and flat, vivid and yet frank, augmenting the sense of documentary accuracy.

“As so often happens through the slightly off-set lens of history, this work evokes contemporary issues of gender and social positioning while also creating a rich atmosphere that takes us to an intriguing elsewhere,” Swensen wrote.

Mills said: “I admire Cole Swensen’s work a great deal. It’s a tremendous honor for her to select me for this poetry award.”

Mill has received a number of competitive poetry fellowships such as the Sewanee and the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. In August 2019, she will participate as a fellow in the international Bread Loaf Writers Conference at Middlebury College in Vermont.

Mills poems have appeared widely in publications such as the “New Yorker,” “Poetry,” “The Guardian,” “Kenyon Review,” and “Boston 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 Illinois – Chicago 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, and Literary Publishing.

“In my poetry classes, I love teaching persona poems because they can invite students to use their imagination to place themselves in new situations, and also learn about history,” Mills said.