The Poetry Project is proud to offer a new annual $1,000 prize for emerging poets in honor of former Poetry Project intern and poet Lisa Brannan, called The Brannan Prize. In addition to the financial prize, the winning poet will have one poem published in The Poetry Project Newsletter. The generosity and dedication of our interns and volunteers — often emerging poets themselves — is invaluable to The Poetry Project, and we are so honored to offer this prize, which supports emerging poets, in the memory of our former intern, Lisa Brannan.

Lisa Brannan was a Poetry Project intern in New York City during the mid-1990’s. She was born in 1975, grew up in South Carolina, and moved to New York to study engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology. While a student, Lisa began to develop an interest in the local literary and cultural scene of Lower Manhattan. Her interests shifted from science and engineering to creative writing. She joined The Poetry Project as an intern in 1995 and helped the Project with event promotion and archiving. Lisa developed her writing by immersing herself in the world of the subjects and themes that interested her. Her work explored the role and experience of marginalized women, sexual dynamics, drug addiction, and other difficult topics. Lisa passed away on June 4, 1997, at the age of 22 in Atlanta, Georgia.

This year’s prize judge was Lisa Jarnot, who served as The Poetry Project Newsletter Editor during Lisa Brannan’s internship at The Poetry Project. Lisa Jarnot selected Will Farris as this year’s prize recipient, and had the following to share about Will’s work:

I chose these poems because I was impressed with the attention to craft on several fronts. I see in this work the writer’s ability to distill language and to disrupt syntactical expectations without entirely obscuring narrative elements. In the use of the line and the timing of phrases there is also a novelty at work, an element of surprise. What the reader is left with is a delicate portraiture that feels simple but is revealed through a skilled understanding of the dance between content and form.


I’m hearing voices

clicks its way
along the face &

Body is big today,
domey; room

so full of light

like new tulips
In spring

the body moves before me


_______I live here

three months
__to know

I was ordinary

_last night

we sat on
& god

_I was just an ordinary egg


for Amir

Left town to collect
lack and found

light in California
is blue
at both ends

some bright weight

led by wrist into
warm I’m told

this is light you can hold in your hand

I wanted to talk about endings,
then sun–

you were so kind

it’s good and
big, being

here, did I tell you?

I feel like smiling somedays
it can’t be helped.