Announcing the 2023 Walt McDonald First Book Prize

Texas Tech University Press is thrilled to announce the Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry 2023 winner, RK Fauth! RK Fauth’s unique and inspiring work, A Dream in Which I Am Playing with Bees, is a collection of poems made of natural imagery, queer metaphors, personal observations, and historical circumstances surrounding honeybees. Playing with Bees contemplates poetry’s “natural” inclinations towards forging intimacy and building alternative worlds through earthbound metaphors.  

The Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry is a competition that strives to illuminate noteworthy and previously unpublished poets. The contest is judged by fellow poet Rachel Mennies, author of many other essays, articles, and poetry collections, including her work that won the same award in 2014. Mennies has been an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University, Penn State University, and Loyola University Chicago, and is currently a freelance editor, writer, and small-business owner.  

RK Fauth is a poet whose writing has appeared in POETRY, The Rising Phoenix Review, Blue Unicorn, Dream of the River: an LGBTQ+ Anthology, The NonBinary Review, The Fulbright Korea Infusion, and elsewhere. From 2019 to 2022, RK ran the award-winning public humanities project, “Unprecedented,” which circulated Black Plague–era erasure poems between strangers. She earned an MA at Georgetown University, where she also served as a Poetry Fellow at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. RK lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, with her fiancé and their two dogs. 

Follow RK Fauth on Instagram @_r.kives_ to see what she, her fiancé, and their two dogs get up to! TTUP thanks you once more for trusting us with this work of art, RK. Get excited to read this sensation soon!