2014 ABZ Poetry Prize Winner:

Pamela Davis

About Pamela Davis

California poet Pamela Davis is a career writer whose poems are widely published in more than 80 literary journals. Her first book, Lunette, won the ABZ Poetry Prize, published in May, 2015. A founding member of the Independent Writers of Southern California, her early professional projects included health and medical journalism, editing, video scripts, and ghostwriting. She received her BA in English from California State University at San Francisco, where she lived for six years. Born into the mortuary business, she worked summers in the family mortuary from high school through college. Davis has also worked as a pie shop counter girl, ambulance dispatcher, social worker, nonprofit administrator, and spent a year in Paris as a live-in nanny. She has devoted the last ten years to writing poetry.

Pamela Davis lives and writes in Santa Barbara. A third-generation Californian, she hikes the flammable hills of the central coast with her husband and two amiable yellow retrievers. Fluent in French, she has read her poetry at Shakespeare & Company in Paris, and enjoys exploring the city’s small museums and obscure cemeteries.


Lunette won the ABZ Poetry Prize, published by ABZ Press, featuring a Foreword by contest judge Gregory Orr.

Her poems appear in more than 80 journals including Prairie Schooner, Sou’Wester, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Nimrod International Journal, Atlanta Review, Zone 3, Natural Bridge, New Ohio Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Southern Humanities Review, Calyx, Permafrost, Evansville Review, South Carolina Review, Louisville Review, Existere Journal (Canada), Stand (UK), Natural Bridge, Quiddity, Storyscape Journal and Caveat Lector .

Awards and Recognition

Pamela Davis won Atlanta Review’s International Poetry Prize. As a semi-finalist for the Neruda Award, her poems have been published by Nimrod International Journal. Her poetry was included in Southern Poetry Review’s Poets of the West and West Coast issue, as well as the Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Painted Bride Quarterly Anthology 5, and in Buzz from Gunpowder Press. She has recorded poetry for KDB radio, and read from new poems at Shakespeare & Company in Paris, France.

About Lunette

In his citation, ABZ Poetry Prize judge Gregory Orr writes 

A reader of Pamela Davis’s Lunette cannot escape for a single page, or even a single line her amazing liveliness of language—it’s alert to the world, deft with the word that will catch that world whirling past. Catch it and fix it—pinned to the page with a sardonic wit.

Poet Laura Kasischke, (author of National Book Critics Circle Award winner Space in Chains) praises Lunette’s collection of poems resonating across space and time with their mysterious music and otherworldly voices.

Washington Independent Review of Book’s Grace Cavalieri says “Davis is charismatic. Each poem becomes charged, changing the calcification of words to living encounters. I like so much the poems about her father, grandmother, mother, family. Her father was a mortician and a gambler…after work he soaked his arches in formaldehyde. I’d stare at his feet, flat/as bottom fish…

(Davis) speaks of marriage too and colors each word in a way not seen before…not afraid to show the kinds of truth in love. There are travel poems. A new look at Paris with a mobile heart. This is not poetry of illusion and fantasy. These are real poems in a real world, marvelously stated. She goes down roads we do not know—speaking of wanting a baby—with the great gift of indirectness…Davis creates keen caring poems where we find out who the speaker is with a new sense in every poem, each in a different kind of language. What a feat to be so versatile, to have such inner resources—poetry as lines of inquiry into our complex existence. There’s much speculation about the life and death cycle, beyond family, even to birds, and dogs, and dead cats, but never over-elaborately. Always just right. This is a substantively important poet who knows who she is—then, we learn more who we are, by the reading. (May 19, 2015.)

Dorianne Laux cites Lunette’s willful, wry, rangy and raw…poems, always on the move, always pushing forward through time and place with fresh lush language, abundant details, and in rhythm with the sad and beautiful stories they tell.

From poetry critic Sonia James' review in The Journal “(Lunette) is a magical network of imagery and imagery…a work of astounding range which amply demonstrates her virtuosity as a poet. These are poems that capture the ferocious beauty of life while mining its essence. These are poems to be read again and again.” (April 6, 2015)

In CASA Magazine, poet and critic Richard Jarrette says “The book is a treasure…one revel(s) in the music, rhythms, speed-of-light leaps of word, image and story. She’s a great jazz drummer taking her solo.” The critic singles out poems with “long Whitmanesque lines that seem seized by the energy to which she’s surrendered….(she) grabs handfuls of gems and hurls them into the light without holding back.” Jarrette likens Lunette to “a comet with a long, fat tail. Her poems want to shoot beyond the page, melt the glue from the binding. We the lucky readers become larger, more knowing, enriched. How did she do it?” (July 10, 2015.)