Scott Frey has won the 2023 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry for his collection, Heavy Metal Nursing. In addition to a $2,000 check, the award includes hardback and paperback book publication in 2024 by the University of Tampa Press.
Scott Frey grew up in Western Pennsylvania and teaches English at Pine Meadow Academy. He learned to teach and found his first writing community at The Landmark School. He then found a wonderful writers’ community during his years teaching at The Ethel Walker School. He also served as a parent advisor for the Pediatric Advanced Care Team at Children’s Hospital, Boston. He and his wife run a non-profit charity, The Charlotte Frey Foundation, whose mission is to help children with multiple handicaps and life-threatening illnesses improve their quality of life.
Among other publications, he has work forthcoming in Passages North, december magazine, One, Bellevue Literary Review, and The Missouri Review, where he was awarded the 2023 Perkoff Prize for poetry. His prose chapbook, Night Nurses, was a winner in the 2023 Black River Chapbook Competition. He and his family live in Granby, Connecticut.
Tampa Review judges praised Frey’s collection, stating:
“Heavy Metal Nursing tells a story of love, the poet Scott Frey’s love for his firstborn daughter. It is not a sentimental love but a “heavy-metal” one, complicated by the hard facts of his daughter’s life: she was born with a severe brain injury, needed intensive care her entire life, and died at three years old. This book is the work of a poet and a parent in equal measure. These are poems of vulnerability and pain, of course, but simultaneously of parenting, caregiving, marriage, medicine, humor, tenderness, affection. Frey brings poetic technique to bear on personal trauma, narrative on desolation, love on loss.”
Frey says, “This collection is an attempt to depict the mix of sorrow and wonder we lived with our daughter during her traumatic birth and medically complex life. Even when our days felt like long tunnels, we were surprised by the care and kindness of our communities. This helped shape our responses to her absence and our responses to the ways her presence continues in a way unknowable beforehand.
Many of the poems began as a method of reaching towards the nurses, doctors, therapists, friends, and family who offered to our daughter and to us such exquisite attention and dedication.
The struggle to craft these narrative lines gave me a way to distill the chaos and emotions roiling within many of our most haunting scenes and memories. It gave me a form for placing lines of grit and despair arm-to-arm with lines of laughter and joy.”
This year the judges also announced two finalists:
Bruised Light: Collected Father by John Pijewski
Miss La La and the Cirque Fernando by Gavin Moses
The Tampa Review Prize for Poetry is given annually for a previously unpublished booklength manuscript. Judging is by the editors of Tampa Review. Submissions are now being accepted for 2024.