Framingham State University English Professor Rachel Trousdale, PhD, has been honored with the inaugural Cardinal Poetry Prize presented by Wesleyan University Press for the manuscript of her upcoming collection of poetry, Five-Paragraph Essay on the Body-Mind Problem. The manuscript was selected by guest judge Robert Pinsky from 15 finalists, following an initial screening process of 428 manuscripts.

Of Trousdale’s manuscript Pinsky said, “A rare gift in art is directness: to turn a clear, unsentimental gaze on love and grief in all their variations, with no smokey or mysterioso evasions. Almost as valuable is meaningful surprise, the stunned laughter of recognition even if the subject for marvel is loss. The heartfelt, unpredictable poems of Rachel Trousdale attain that kind of discovery.”

Professor Trousdale says the much of the book was born out of a writing support group that she and a few of her friends formed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That group became a really important motivating and sanity-saving lifeline for me, especially in those panicky first few months of the pandemic,” Trousdale says. “We would issue poetry prompts and critique each other’s work on Google docs. It got us all in gear as writers professionally, at a time when we were trying to work and homeschool our kids.”

Trousdale says a central theme of the poems in the book is “Who do you love and why?” and “What does it mean?”

“I was thinking about my husband, my kids, my parents, and some of the pressure that came out of the pandemic," she says.

As the winner of the Cardinal Poetry Prize, which was open to poets aged 40 or older who have never published a poetry book or have not published a new original poetry collection within the last 10 years, Trousdale will receive a $1,000 cash prize and will have her manuscript published in the acclaimed Wesleyan University Press Poetry Series in the Spring of 2025.

“Wesleyan Press is my dream publisher,” says Trousdale. “When I think that my work will be in the company of the poets on their list, I pinch myself. It was also a big honor to be selected by Robert Pinsky, whose work I have admired since I was an undergraduate.”

Trousdale’s poems have previously appeared in The Nation, The Yale Review, Diagram, and other journals, as well as a chapbook, Antiphonal Fugue for Marx Brothers, Elephant, and Slide Trombone (Fishing Line Press, 2015). Her scholarly work includes Humor, Empathy, and Community in Twentieth-Century American Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2021) and Nabokov, Rushdie, and the Transnational Imagination (Macmillan, 2010). Five-Paragraph Essay on the Body-Mind Problem will be her first full-length collection of poetry. You can learn more about her work at: https://www.racheltrousdale.com/