poster for The Moth Poetry Prize shortlist with four poet headshots and their names

Heather Treseler named as finalist for distinguished poetry award

March 7, 2022
By: Deborah Alvarez O'Neil

Associate Professor of English Heather Treseler has been selected as one of four finalists for the distinguished Moth Poetry Prize for her poem “Chase Street,” set in her hometown. The poetry prize attracts thousands of submissions from around the world, and the winner will be announced on Poetry Day in Ireland April 28.

This year’s finalists were selected by poet Warsan Shire, a Somali British poet and member of the United Kingdom’s Royal Society of Literature. The four poems were published in The Irish Times March 2 and will appear in the spring issue of The Moth, an international art and literature magazine. One of the four finalists will be awarded a prize of 6000 EUR ($6,537 US) and the other three will receive 1000 EU ($1,089 US), among the most generous prizes in Europe for a single poem.

Shire described Treseler’s “Chase Street” as, “A beautifully written poem exploring childhood, memory and motherhood. Opening stanza is deeply powerful. A deft poem that lingers long after.” The poem appears in the manuscript of Treseler’s second collection of poems, Petrichor, and draws on anecdotes from her mother’s childhood.

“I am honored to have “Chase Street” selected as one of the four finalists by Warsan Shire, a poet whom I admire for her craft and courage, her willingness to break new ground and work across genres,” Treseler said. 

In the poem, Treseler says she was interested in exploring the extraordinary bonds between parents and children– in ordinary time and through duress. It is set in the neighborhood where her mother grew up. “The geography– and sonics– of this neighborhood, its hills and church bells, its flocks of birds and dented mailboxes, its train station and storied streets led me to the poem,” Treseler said. “My mother was the youngest of five children, the only daughter. Epigenetics suggests that a portion of our ancestors’ experience is passed down to us below the level of speech. This makes both scientific and poetic sense to me: “Chase Street” traces three generations of women, their bonds, their inheritance.” 

Other poems in Treseler’s  manuscript have been recognized by prizes from the W. B. Yeats Society of New York, Frontier Poetry, and The Missouri Review.

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