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2017 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry

The University of Texas at El Paso is proud to announce that Natalie Scenters-Zapico, who was an undergraduate Creative Writing major, has won the prestigious 2017 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, for her collection of poems The Verging Cities (Center for Literary Publishing/Colorado State University).

From her undergraduate writing career at UTEP, Natalie went on to become a graduate student at the University of New Mexico, and is now one of our country’s most literarily-recognized emerging writers. Her winning book is about this border.

The literary honor, which comes with a monetary award of $5,000, is for the high literary character of the published work, and for a new and emerging American poet who shows the promise of further literary achievement. Natalie was chosen by judges Camille Dungy, Ada Limón and Patrick Philips. On her winning the award, the judges write: “Natalie Scenters-Zapico is an important emerging poet whose formal and tonal range in The Verging Cities is impressive and disarming. Her voice is honest, engaging, and complex as she explores the liminal space of the U.S./Mexico border with vivid imagery that moves fluidly between Juárez and El Paso.”

More information can be found in the PEN America announcement at