"But it is precisely this ability, Awad’s comfort working within liminal fields and figures, that underscores the collection’s virtue. Rather than reiterate Hannah Arendt’s now-ubiquitous phrase (“the banality of evil”), the collection underscores the banality of living with evil, of living through evil, even after evil itself has become unrecognizable, if ever it was: how to weigh suffering alongside suffering? Is quotidian desire any less potent than its absolutist corollary? Life’s minutia doesn’t disappear when the shells first fall, so where does one place pleasure amongst the war-scape?"—J.P. Grasser, Kenyon Review

"At its best, Ruth Awad’s Set to Music a Wildfire further convinces me poetry, among many things, is a living testament to both art’s unique ability to arise—and our need for art to arise—from suffering and tragedy."—Mike Good, Tupelo Quarterly

"Set to Music a Wildfire shows what it is to survive, to be as whole as possible, to claim a solid self."—Tyler Robert Sheldon, The Los Angeles Review

"Set to Music a Wildfire details Awad’s father’s journey to America in the wake of the Lebanese Civil War, his tempestuous marriage to and divorce from Awad’s mother, and the heartbreak this separation inflicts on the family. However, though this collection is a testament to a father, and at times a dedicated investigational report of a war-torn country, Set to Music a Wildfire is also a powerful work of self recovery. Awad’s speaker traces her lineage, the circumstances that made her existence possible, as gently as a finger gliding along the spine of a slumbering body. " —Enikő Vághy

"Set to Music a Wild Fire is a story that needs to be told, especially today, now, reminding us of those lines from “Asphodel” by William Carlos Williams: “it is difficult to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Awad’s poems give us real news of human beings behind the current wall of political wrangling, and behind the question of who belongs and who doesn’t."—Amy Small-McKinney, Connotation Press 


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  • Winner of the 2018 Ohioana Book Award in Poetry

  • Recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award in poetry, May 2016

  • Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prizewinner, 2013 and 2012

  • Southern Illinois University Carbondale: Alumni Association Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award, 2012

  • Copper Nickel Poetry Contest winner, 2011

  • Academy of American Poets Prize, 2012

  • Southern Illinois University Carbondale: Roxana Rivera Poetry Contest Winner, 2011

  • The Ohio State University: Citino Undergraduate Poetry Award, 2009

  • The Ohio State University: Reba Elaine Pearl Burkhardt Roorbach Award in Creative Nonfiction, 2009

  • The Ohio State University: Gertrude Lucille Robinson Award, 2009

  • The Ohio State University: Vandewater Poetry Award, 2009

  • Academy of American Poets: Arthur Rense Poetry Prize, 2008

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