Book Awards | Literary Arts

Rob Carney’s The Book of Sharks Wins the 15 Bytes Book Award for Poetry

Rob Carney

Salt Lake City poet Rob Carney has been awarded the 15 Bytes Book Award for Poetry for his collection The Book of Sharks from Black Lawrence Press.

Originally from Washington state, Carney is the author of four previous collections, including 88 Maps (Lost Horse Press 2015), which was named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award, and Weather Report (Somondoco Press 2006), which won the Utah Book Award for Poetry. His work has appeared in Cave Wall, Columbia Journal, Sugar House Review, Terrain: A Journal of the Built and Natural Environments, and dozens of others, as well as the Norton anthology Flash Fiction Forward (2006). In 2014 he received the Robinson Jeffers/Tor House Foundation Award for seven of the poems included in THE BOOK OF SHARKS (Black Lawrence Press, 2018). He is a Professor of English and Literature at Utah Valley University.
Juror’s citation:
The Book of Sharks reads like Apocrypha; the language feels like it earned something from time or is itself infused with time. Wine and fermentation could be referenced, but since this is a book of sharks (and it truly feels like you are reading sharks), we can say the book is like a hakarl dish, an Icelandic meal that takes a dead shark and buries it in the beach to ferment as time brings the flavors to their potency. This book brings the sharks to you alive and swimming all the while invoking the prehistoric flavors and fears that sharks invoke in us. This book is both rewarding in how much time it took to write (one imagines), but also because it takes time to read. It’s potent in the aftertaste, not the kind of reading that announces itself immediately and loudly, but instead one that you find yourself swimming in, treading its waters, and, hours later after you’re sunburned and salted in the large ocean of existential questions, you find yourself feeling a sneaking wisdom that grows and grows, hitting you sharp and full forced. This book will haunt you with everything poetry has always tried to haunt us with: beauty, death, time, existence, images, the self, responsibility, nature. Here there are sharks in text. Jump in, swim with them; if they bite, you’ll really feel it in the brain.
Read our review from Amy Brunvand here.

Since 2013, Artists of Utah has recognized excellence in publishing associated with Utah and Utah writers with its annual 15 Bytes Book Awards. Books published in the previous calendar year written by a Utah writer or with a Utah connection are considered by a panel of invited jurors in the categories of art book, fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. A small cash prize is awarded to the winner.

Rain Scald (University of New Mexico Press) by Tacey M. Atsitty and What the Body Knows (University of Tampa Press) by Lance Larsen were finalists for this year’s poetry award. See here for more on the finalists.

The award will be presented at a reading by the winner and the finalists at The Printed Garden in Sandy, Friday, October 18 at 7 pm.

The 7th annual 15 Bytes Book Awards are made possible with a generous grant from:

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