St. Paul poet Patricia Kirkpatrick has been named winner of the first annual Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry, a new regional prize established by Milkweed Editions.

Kirkpatrick is an assistant professor at Hamline University and the poetry editor of Water-Stone Review; she will receive $10,000 and her book, "Odessa," will be published by Milkweed.

Kirkpatrick said she was overwhelmed, humbled and delighted. "When I came home to Daniel's message on my machine, I thought I was dreaming," she said, referring to Milkweed publisher Daniel Slager, who called her with the news last week. "It was the first time I'd heard 'Odessa' spoken out loud as the title of my book by anyone other than myself."

Kirkpatrick is the author of "Century's Road," published by Holy Cow! Press. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Threepenny Review, Antioch Review and elsewhere, and has been anthologized, including in "She Walks in Beauty," edited by Caroline Kennedy.

Three of Kirkpatrick's poems open this month's issue of Poetry Magazine -- poems that will be included in "Odessa."

The poems of "Odessa" sprang from frequent trips Kirkpatrick has taken to Western Minnesota over the last seven years, where the prairie landscape, a diagnosis of a brain tumor and the myth of Persephone all came together in her mind.

"'Odessa' is a dark book, but not for me without a sense of hope and wonder," she said.

The finalists for the competition were selected by Milkweed editors, with the final selection made by poet Peter Campion.

"The emotional power of Kirkpatrick's poetic narrative corresponds here with her mastery of craft," Campion said in his judge's comments. "I am convinced that 'Odessa' will move its readers for many, many years to come."

The book will be published in December, and Milkweed will host a reading and reception for Kirkpatrick on Nov. 28 at Open Book in Minneapolis.

The Lindquist & Vennum Foundation was established by the Minneapolis law firm of Lindquist & Vennum. The award goes to poets in the Upper Midwest.

Laurie Hertzel • 612-673-7302