Nicholls author receives poetry prize

Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls assistant professor of English and poet-in-residence, Jay Udall, received the 2017 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize for his upcoming book, “Because a Fire in Our Heads,” which will be published this spring.

Started in 1998 and sponsored by the Texas Review Press at Sam Houston State University, the X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize is named for the American poet, translator and editor, and is awarded annually for a full-length collection of poetry.

David M. Parsons, former poet laureate of Texas, served as this year’s judge.

Because a Fire in Our Heads, Udall’s sixth book, explores “desire in its many forms—sensual, emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual—confronting an infinite cosmos, existential separateness and vulnerability, violence, injustice, and death,” he says, with influences from music, theology, history and time spent in New Mexico, Nevada, Louisiana and Virginia.

“I’m deeply satisfied that the book won this prize and found a home,” Udall said. “This is my best work, I think, and with each book, I keep trying to push the work further, taking on new challenges and risks, and I’m pleased with the outcome.”


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator,  985.448.4141 or

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