Awards, Poetry, Press Releases, UCP News

Phoenix Poets Series Relaunches with New Books by Dong Li and Annelyse Gelman

Dong Li receives inaugural Phoenix Emerging Poet Book Prize

The University of Chicago Press is excited to announce that Dong Li and Annelyse Gelman have been chosen as the first poets to be published as part of the Phoenix Poets series relaunch. Dong Li’s The Orange Tree is the inaugural recipient of the Phoenix Emerging Poet Book Prize, and Annelyse Gelman’s Vexations was also chosen through the series’ new open submission process. Both books will be published in the spring of 2023.

Comprised of a series of long, lyrical narrative poems, Dong Li’s The Orange Tree braids forgotten histories, family sorrows, and political upheavals into a rendering of China that is at once ancient and actual. Through stories of ordinary people with little means, the poems navigate the personal and the political, offering unexpected perspectives on times that resonate with our own—not least in the manuscript’s unflinching meditation on the brutality of war. Phoenix Poets consulting editor Rosa Alcalá praises The Orange Tree as “a book that will deeply engage and move all readers on the level of story . . . and offer other poets new possibilities for the treatment of family history.” 

Li is a multilingual author who translates from Chinese, English, French, and German. Born and raised in China, he was educated at Deep Springs College and Brown University. The Orange Tree will be Li’s debut collection of poetry.

Annelyse Gelman’s Vexations is a book-length poem—a surreal, glitchy meditation on social and economic collapse, nonhuman intelligence, and the limits of empathy. Phoenix Poets consulting editor Douglas Kearney writes: “With this stunning shapeshifter of a manuscript, Gelman manages to create a remarkable hybrid: a book-length poetic narrative of speculative fiction, an urgent account of a mother/daughter relationship, and a coruscating view of our ecological future. . . . This is twenty-first-century literature in action.”

Gelman is the author of the poetry collection Everyone I Love Is a Stranger to Someone (Write Bloody, 2014), the artist’s book POOL (NECK Press, 2020), and the EP About Repulsion (Fonograf Editions, 2019). Gelman also directs Midst, a digital platform for capturing, saving, and sharing the writing process. Her language-based, medium-agnostic projects often use domestic technologies and available materials to explore intimacy, vulnerability, and interdependence.

Both books were chosen by series editor Srikanth Reddy and consulting editors Rosa Alcalá, Douglas Kearney, and Katie Peterson from over three hundred submissions received as part of the opening reading period.

Reddy commented: “We’re thrilled to relaunch the Phoenix Poets book series at the University of Chicago Press in our Spring 2023 season with two spectacular new titles from emerging contemporary authors who expand the possibilities for literary expression. Annelyse Gelman’s Vexations and Dong Li’s The Orange Tree are innovative long-form works that integrate epic traditions and speculative futures into feminist and transnational perspectives on where we might go from here. With our energetic new editorial collective, a fresh design for our books, a newly established Phoenix Emerging Poet Book Prize, expansion into modern and contemporary literary translation, and a Phoenix Poets Literary Festival planned for the coming year, the Phoenix Poets book series will continue to reshape the landscape of contemporary Anglophone poetry and translation for a new era.”

Since its founding in 1983, the Phoenix Poets series has published contemporary poets with a keen awareness of the history and possibilities of poetry. Books in the series have won major accolades, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the National Book Award, the Rome Prize in Literature, the William Carlos Williams Award, and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Under its new editorship, the series is actively building upon this distinguished history by embracing the new literary energies of the present, expanding its audience to include a more diverse reading public, and promoting emerging literary voices nationally and globally.

More detail about the series and the open submission period is available on the series page.