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Posted on Wed, Nov 18, 2009 : 6 a.m.

Ann Arbor's Onna Solomon wins poetry prize

By Jenn McKee


Onna Solomon

Ann Arbor's Onna Solomon is the 2009 winner of the Beloit Poetry Journal’s annual Chad Walsh Poetry Prize.

BPJ editors select a poem or group of poems they have published in the calendar year to receive the award. This year’s choice is Solomon's "Autism Suite," which appeared in the Fall 2009 issue; the prize is $3,500.

Solomon is a 2006 graduate of Boston University's graduate program in creative writing, where she worked with Robert Pinsky and Louise Glück and interned at AGNI Literary Magazine. She currently works as the program director for The P.L.A.Y. Project, a national autism education and training center of parents and child development professionals. She is also a founding member of the Huron River Arts Initiative, an arts collective that produces concerts and theatrical performances. "Autism Suite" (PDF) evokes the world of parents of autistic children by embodying its broken syntax and obsessive repetitions: "Those I'm not / think / things I don't / think // I know you know / things I don't / think thoughts I don't." The parent's efforts to understand and reach the child, frustrated at every turn, become an effort to comprehend "What a life holds, / what it's built around" by turning "inward" to the heartbeat, each being's "intrinsic secluded home."

Jenn McKee is the entertainment digital journalist for Reach her at or 734-623-2546, and follow her on Twitter @jennmckee.