Photo courtesy of City of Asylum/Pittsburgh 

By Justin Criado jakiela-217x300

City of Asylum announced Lori Jakiela, a poet and memoirist, the winner of the 2015 City of Asylum/Pittsburgh Prize Monday, Jan. 19. Previous prize winners include Terrance Hayes (2011) and Román Antopolsky (2013).

“I’m pleased and proud to announce Lori Jakiela has won our 2015 prize,” Henry Reese, Co-founder and President of City of Asylum, said in a press release. “We received many impressive and eminently well-qualified applications, which included poetry, prose, and drama.

“Jakiela’s dedication to her craft means that she will be able to use her residency in Belgium to her artistic advantage, but I also feel that she reflects well on the literary community of our city and represents the values of City of Asylum in a special way.”

Jakiela was chosen from a pool of Western Pennsylvania writer-applicants who are 30 or older, and have published at least one full-length book of poetry, fiction, or non-fiction. The 2015 City of Asylum/Pittsburgh prize consists of a month-long, all-expenses-paid writing residency in Brussels, Belgium. Applications were judged by Chuck Kinder, the celebrated author of Snakehunters and Honeymooners: A Cautionary Tale.

In selecting Jakiela, Chuck Kinder stated, “While I found many pleasures in quite a few of the entries, I kept returning with delight and excitement to the writing sample in Lori Jakiela’s application.”

The prize is part of City of Asylum’s Bridges initiative, which will create a number of international writer residencies for Western Pennsylvania writers. This residency is a collaboration with the Belgian literary organization, Het beschrijf, and is hosted at the Passa Porta literary center in Brussels.

Jakiela is the author of the memoirs The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious (C&R Press) and Miss New York Has Everything (Hatchette), as well as the poetry collection Spot the Terrorist (Turning Point). Her limited-edition poetry chapbooks include The Regulars (Liquid Paper Press. Winner of The Nerve Cowboy Chapbook competition); The Mill Hunk’s Daughter Meets the Queen of Sky (Finishing Line); and Red Eye (Pudding House).

Her third memoir, Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe, is forthcoming from Atticus Books in 2015.

She has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize many times, is the recipient of a Golden Quill award for column writing from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, performed at Lollapalooza and won the first-ever Literary Death Match/Pittsburgh.

A former flight attendant and journalist, Jakiela now teaches writing. She received the Alumni Association’s Outstanding Faculty Award from The University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg, where she is an associate professor of English in the undergraduate Creative and Professional Writing Program. She also teaches in the graduate writing program at Chatham University and co-directs the summer writing festival at Chautauqua Institution.

She lives outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, author Dave Newman, and their family.

She occasionally blogs about writing and other stuff she likes at Stuff I Like, Stuff I Write.

Information from City of Asylum/Pittsburgh was used in this story. Photo of Jakiela courtesy of City of Asylum/Pittsburgh.