Jill Osier is named the 2019 Yale Younger Poet

Jill Osier
Jill Osier

The Solace Is Not the Lullaby,” a manuscript by American poet Jill Osier, has been chosen as the winner for the 2019 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. 

‘It might have happened/at the river,’ begins one poem, called ‘Story,’ after which we are told several things, but never what happened, or to whom — a situation that could, in less capable hands, lead to reader frustration,” says series judge Carl Phillips, a prize-winning and critically acclaimed poet. “But the poems of Osier’s ‘The Solace Is Not the Lullaby’ quietly, cumulatively, persuasively argue for restraint and precision (both too often forgotten in contemporary poetry) as tools for the confession that the art of story — of telling — finally amounts to.

The poems give record not to what’s been lost, but to the knowing ‘you may have had something/but lost it,’” adds Phillips. “The knowing, suggests Osier, may well be enough, or have to be. Her poems announce what must suffice: ‘We have seen every edge, they say,/and you were right.’ Osier’s is a sensibility unlike any I’ve encountered before — the poems here are thrilling, and strangely new.”

Osier’s poetry appears in three chapbooks and in the journals Crazyhorse, The Georgia Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, and The Southern Review. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Osier has served as the Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Chapbook Fellow at The Frost Place, and the George Bennett Fellow at Phillips Exeter Academy. Honors for her work include the Campbell Corner Poetry Prize and Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award.

Winners of the Yale Series of Younger Poets receive one of the five writing fellowships offered at The James Merrill House in Stonington, CT. The fellowship provides a furnished living space and daily access to James Merrill’s apartment for a writer in search of a quiet setting to complete a project of literary or academic merit.

Yale University Press will publish Osier’s book in April 2020. The manuscript is Phillips’ ninth selection as judge and the 114th volume in the series. Carl Phillips’ eighth selection, Yanyi’s “The Year of Blue Water,” will be published by Yale University Press on March 26, 2019.

This year marks the centennial of the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize. Presented annually by Yale University Press, it is the oldest annual literary award in the United States. The competition is open to emerging poets who have not previously published a book of poetry and who reside in the United States, and celebrates the most prominent new American poets by bringing the work of these artists to the attention of the larger public. Earlier winners of the prize include noted poets Adrienne Rich, John Ashbery, and Robert Hass. 

The following excerpt is from “The Solace Is Not the Lullaby”:

The Field Wasn’t Always a Field”
The paint on the hood glistens.
If she looks deep, glints of light like fish
or stars start swimming. She thinks
she’s seen this before in nail polish.
She smells her fingers, checks the middle one’s
last knuckle. Swollen. A crescent purpled
one side this morning. Some grounder’s
bad hop she doesn’t remember. The boy’s still trying
to say it, leaned back on the windshield, but all the Irish
blood in the ground can’t help. Quiet, quiet,
all the way home. He corners carefully
like someone older. In two years she will learn
to drive. Her temple rests in one small circle
on the window, all the blood leaving there,
a cold coming in.