Dr. Keith Kopka has won the 2019 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry for his first book of poems, Count Four. In addition to a $2,000 check, the award includes hardback and paperback book publication in 2020 by the University of Tampa Press.
Tampa Review judges praised his manuscript for its clarity of voice and surprising textures of metaphor that elevate his appealing, informal language:
“Count Four starts by winning us over to a close relationship with the author. We are sharing experiences with a confiding friend, who tells us, ‘I've always wanted to climb behind the wheel of a Zamboni’ and boasts, ‘If I wanted to, I could lift this poem above my head, and hold it there like a cartoon dumbbell.‘ Before we know it, we’re caught up in the real power of a poet driving a vehicle that can smooth and restore the surfaces, leaving them ready to accept fresh scars as the next virtuoso performance or power play begins. We brace ourselves to witness the approaching crashes. We cheer at each passionate shot.”
Kopka said, “Count Four is a highly personal collection of poems. It’s a book about trying to reconcile the more toxic aspects of masculine identity and understand the forces that shape that identity.”
Kopka’s poetry and criticism have recently appeared in Best New Poets, Mid-American Review, New Ohio Review, Berfrois, Ninth Letter, The International Journal of the Book, and many other journals. He is the author of the critical text Asking a Shadow to Dance: An Introduction to the Practice of Poetry and the recipient of the 2017 International Award for Excellence from the Books, Publishing & Libraries Research Network.
Kopka is also the co-founder and the Director of Operations for Writers Resist, an international coalition of writers resisting the erosion of diverse expression and humane values, and a Senior Editor at Narrative Magazine. He’s currently an assistant professor at Holy Family University in Philadelphia, where he launched the HFU Distinguished Writer’s Series on Oct. 28, 2019, featuring “An Evening with Raquel Salas Rivera,” Philadelphia’s Poet Laureate.