Local poet recognized

Leader News Staff
Posted 7/26/23

For Hannah Lee Jones, publishing her first book of poetry last October and knowing it was connecting with readers...

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Local poet recognized


For Hannah Lee Jones, publishing her first book of poetry last October and knowing it was connecting with readers was its own reward. She didn’t expect a prize - let alone four. Since April, “When I Was the Wind” has won both the Eric Hoffer Book Award in poetry and the First Horizon Award for outstanding debut books, taken top “gold” honors in the Nautilus Book Awards, and become an IPPY Awards bronze medalist.

For Jones, 42, who has focused her promotional efforts on deep social media engagement rather than in-person readings and did not pursue a traditional MFA route to publication, these honors have been especially validating.

Calling Jones “a new voice for these times,” the Eric Hoffer Award judges noted that the book has “a fascinating rhythm—bright and flowing, creating its own dance.” The panel praised the works’ spirit of exploration and ability to make readers “take notice of our own fragility and that of the world,” concluding: “With an undercurrent of grit, there is just enough magic here to intrigue all who still want to believe in the best within us all.” Readers have characterized the collection as “urgent and gorgeous,” “deeply renewing,” “exquisitely fierce,” “filled with art and myth,” and “a travel companion through the American West.”

Originally from Tacoma, Jones now divides her time between Port Townsend, Washington, and Silver City, New Mexico, after spending three years as a nomad in the desert Southwest following a divorce, she wed out of a tiny handmade trailer house around Moab and the Four Corners region. Her book, years in the making, draws on that unusual journey as well as her Korean heritage and path toward healing from childhood trauma. Its layered structure, substantial notes section, and artisan details set it apart from standard poetry collections, and Jones worked closely with her publisher on every element.

The Eric Hoffer Award and the IPPY Awards honor books in the independent publishing industry from small and academic presses, and the Nautilus Awards celebrate “books for a better world” that support a mission of social justice, sustainability, spiritual growth, and wellness. The winners are announced in the spring after a rigorous judging process involving members of the literary community, including editors, librarians, agents, authors, and other experienced professionals.

For more information, visit juneroadpress.com or contact Sara Arnold, publisher and editor, at 203-247-6488 or editor@juneroadpress.com.