Bellingham Poet Lands Prize, Publishing Deal With National Poetry Series Win


Local poet, Tennison S. Black, was named a winner of the National Poetry Series for their poetry collection, Survival Strategies. The manuscript, selected by judge Adrienne Su, will be published by University of Georgia Press in the fall of 2023.

The National Poetry Series is a prominent literary awards program that sponsors the publication of five books of poetry each year. The manuscripts are selected by poets of national stature through a nationwide open competition. 

Tennison S. Black has been named a winner of the National Poetry Series for its poetry collection ‘Survival Strategies.’ Photo credit: Andrea Michelle

Black graduated Western Washington University in 2015 and went on to attain her MFA in the state of her birth at Arizona State University. Survival Strategies reveals a poet grappling with her past as a sensitive person amid the rugged realities of life in the Sonoran desert of the Southwest but it is not without a nod to the Northwest as poems also explore her deep need for the ocean and all forms of water.

On the awards website, Pulitzer Prize winner, Natasha Trethewey, who served two terms as U.S. Poet Laureate said of the National Poetry Series, “Not only is it the most distinguished series, it is also the only one I know of that consistently identifies, at an early stage in their careers, the writers we are likely to be reading for a long time.”

Prior to the win, Black was best known in Bellingham as one of “the tea ladies,” as she is the former owner of Misfits Bliss, a tea company that could be found at the local farmer’s market from 2009-2012. She shuttered the business to complete her education and pursue her passion for writing. 

In addition to the publishing contract, Black will receive $10,000.

For more information about Black’s work visit And for more information about the National Poetry Series visit

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