Keegan Lester

this shouldn't be beautiful but it was and it was all i had so i drew it 

Slope Editions Book Prize!

Today I’m excited and overjoyed to announce that Mary Ruefle has selected my manuscript “this shouldn’t be beautiful but it was, & it’s all i had so i drew it” for the Slope Editions Book prize.

You can buy it here 

There are so many people I want to thank, but I need to start with my Mom, my Dad and my Sister Paige. Thank you. Thank you to all the people that ever read my work, or asked me to come read in your city, or said anything nice about it to me or someone else. Thank you to everyone who ever picked me up in Pittsburgh from the megabus stop/ airport so I could see my grandma and grandpa. Thank you to all my writing professors at West Virginia University and Columbia University and thank you Thomas Roma for making me believe in poetry’s magic again, at a time in my life where I needed more magic, at a time where without that magic I might have otherwise not have made it out alive. Thank you to my three students in Morgantown, who always made sure I had enough to eat. Thank you Patty Rush Slagel for your friendship, for looking after me like one of your children, for not letting me walk to work those days when it was below 0. Thank you to Elsie Driggs’s who's photograph titled Pittsburgh, 1927, which Eleni pointed out to me at the Whitney, had a note card with a quote from which I stole, what is now the title of this collection. Thank you Scott Crichlow for visiting me in new york many times and especially this winter and for suggesting we go to the Whitney in the first place, and for being my secret reader and all around opener of gates and friend. Thank you grandma for being one of the strongest people I know, for never letting me win, for being fearless, for throwing the football with me in the house, for being a librarian and finishing school when others told you not to. Thank you friends that lent your couches. Thank you friends that lent your wisdom and taught me to see the world in larger scope. Thank you teachers. Thank you Eleni and the entire Tountas family for feeding and sheltering me and your unwavering belief. Thank you Eva Maria Saavedra and Judy Renee Bankman for being my readers and friends. Thank you Isabelle Shepherd for being my manuscript reader, you’re the only person I’ve ever allowed to do this, or trusted. Your future is bright, your poems stunning and you make me proud to call Appalachia home. Thank you Courtney Haggerty and Lisa Stender for your friendship. Thank you Tyler Mikev and Paul Miller for your text messages especially during football season. Thank you to all my Uncles and Aunts and Cousins. Thank you Morgantown. Thank you West Virginia. Thank you Huntington Beach and California. Thank you to my Poetry Brothel family and my Travelin’ Appalachian Revue Family. Thank you Scott McClanahan, Jason Bredle, Geoffrey Nutter, Josh Bell, Crystal Good and Nick Waterhouse and all of the other writers, artists and musicians that reached out to me when I had questions. Thank you Dylan Balliett for letting me use your music as the backtrack to all the my readings I recorded for journals. Thank you to Renee Nicholson for working on Souvenir with me, and helping create something that is both beautiful and symbolic of the diversity and love we hoped our literary community would become. Thank you to all the readers and editors of journals that picked up poems in this collection including: The Atlas Review, BackLash Press, Boiler Journal, The Boston Review, BORT Quarterly, Control Literary Magazine, Fissure, FloorPlan, Fruita Pulp, The Journal, Map Literary, Reality Beach, SINK REVIEW, Sixth Finch, Sun Dog Lit, Tinderbox and Whiskey Island. Thank you Mary Ruefle, for changing my life, for your writing, your art, for being a poet from Allegheny. Thank you Slope Editions for picking me up. I’m excited to be part of your family; thank you for making a home for poems about mountains and football and my mom and dad and grandma and how i wish we were all kinder to each other. and thank you all of you for reading this. I hope to share this book with you real soon. All of you, I love all you. 


Keegan Lester