Announcing the Results of the 2017 Many Voices Project Competitions

Last year, we received over 450 submissions to our Many Voices Project competitions in Prose and Poetry. As always, it was a daunting, yet enjoyable, task to read through the submissions, hunting for “that” manuscript that sparked us all with joy, with an eagerness to devour the entire manuscript, with a need to publish that work. Our readers helped us to find so many fantastic works, and we wish money were no object so that we could publish even more of these wonderful manuscripts.

After months of reading, we narrowed down to 9 finalists in each category, and after hours of discussion in person and online, we got that list down to the 3 manuscripts we’ll be publishing.

Many Voices Project Winner #139: Melanie Figg, Trace

Melanie Figg is the recipient of a 2017-2019 NEA Poetry Fellowship, as well as grants from the McKnight and Jerome Foundations and the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County. With an MFA in Poetry, her poems, essays, and reviews have been published in dozens of literary journals including The Iowa Review, Nimrod, LIT, Conduit, Colorado Review, and others. Melanie lived for many years in the Twin Cities, and taught for over a decade at The Loft Literary Center. Now, Melanie lives in the DC metro area and curates Literary Art Tours in DC galleries (a Washington Post “Editor’s Pick”). She teaches writing at The Writer’s Center, as well as in local arts and community centers, and in private consultation. As a certified professional coach, she offers writing retreats and works one-on-one with writers and other creatives.

Many Voices Project Winner #140: Natanya Pulley, With Teeth

Natanya Ann Pulley is Diné (Navajo), of Kinyaa’áanii (Towering House) and Táchii’nii (Red Running Into Water) clans. She writes fiction and non-fiction with outbreaks in collage and she has published work in numerous journals including The Collagist, Drunken Boat, The Offing, McSweeney’s, Waxwing, and As/Us. Her work has been anthologized in #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women, Exquisite Vessel: Shapes of Native Nonfiction, Women Write Resistance, and more. A former editor of Quarterly West and South Dakota Review, she is the founding editor of the Colorado College literary journal, Hairstreak Butterfly Review. Natanya is an assistant professor of English at Colorado College.

Editors’ Choice Award: Erin Slaughter, I Will Tell This Story to the Sun Until You Remember That You Are the Sun

Erin Slaughter is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Elegy for the Body (Slash Pine Press, 2017) and GIRLFIRE (dancing girl press, 2018), and is editor and co-founder of literary journal The Hunger. You can find her writing in Prairie Schooner, Passages North, Tishman Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. Originally from north Texas, she holds an MFA from Western Kentucky University, and is pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at Florida State University.

Watch out for these 3 fantastic, powerful collections to publish in fall of 2019.

We also want to give a shout out to our amazing list of finalists. If we could, we’d publish you all.

Poetry Finalists:

  • Deke—Gibson Fay-LeBlanc
  • Here is a Woman—Barbara March
  • Covenant—Maureen Mulhern
  • The Miracle Machine—Matthew Pennock
  • After-Hours at the Museum of Tolerance—Janet Sylvester
  • Graft Fixation—Billie Tardos
  • So I Waited—Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad


Prose Finalists:

  • The Journal of Henry David Tarantula—Betsy Bernfeld
  • City of Crows—Justin Florey
  • Light Reflection Over Blues—Avital Gad-Cykman
  • (Earthly Delights and Other Apocalypses—Jennifer Julian)
  • Trove—Sandra Miller
  • Skin: Tales of Transformations—Miranda Schmidt
  • Dear Sally—Carole Stedronsky
  • Away with Words—Judith Hannah Weiss


Submissions for MVP 2018 will open September 1, get your manuscripts ready to submit! We can wait to read what you’re writing!

Free Comic Book Day and The Growing Legitimacy of Comic Books as Literature

“I just don’t have time for books anymore.”

If you’re a working adult, or even just a busy person of indeterminate age, you may have heard this sentiment among your peers. Maybe even you have slipped into that tenebrific bookless existence. I am here to offer a solution you may not have considered before: graphic novels.

This Saturday, May 5th, is Free Comic Book Day, an event created in 2002 in order to celebrate and increase the visibility of independent comic sellers across the United States. Various comic publishers release special 1-issue samples for comic shops to give away on Free Comic Book Day. Series such as The Avengers, Tank Girl, Riverdale and many others are represented on the list of this year’s free comic samples. If you’ve ever been interested in the world of comics, but had no idea where to start, Free Comic Book Day could be an excellent, low-risk opportunity for you to make your entrance. Locally, businesses such as Paradox Comics and Cards and Comic Junction are joining in on the festivities, but for a list of participating businesses in your area, or for more information on the event, you can visit the official Free Comic Book Day website.

Maus, the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize.

There is something of a stigma surrounding comics and graphic novels. Their ample use of images rings in people minds as akin to childish picture-books. Much like cartoons, comics and graphic novels suffer from the assumption that only children can, or should, enjoy them. While children certainly enjoy reading comic books, and an ample supply of the comics on the market are meant for children, there is also a thriving market of comic stories meant to be relevant to adults. When it comes to comic books for adults, the thought is that with fewer words per page, this makes graphic novel reading easier and thus less fulfilling than reading a full prose novel. Additionally, there exists and undesirable stereotype about the kind of adult who reads comic books: that of an obsessive, dysfunctional, child-like adult. Let’s banish all of these misconceptions from our minds. Just as there is traditional literature of every genre for every age, so too, are there impactful comics for everyone of any background.

Hugo-Award Winning Graphic Novel: Saga

Comic books (as well as their Eastern counterpart, called manga/manhwa) have been making strides recently both in widespread popularity and in credibility as a legitimate form of art and storytelling. In 1992, the historical memoir graphic novel Maus, became the first graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize. As a result, it is often read alongside other historical literature in classrooms around the country. The first volume of Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples’ Saga series, a provocative space opera with elements of fantasy, won a Hugo Award in 2013.

In 2009, five comic book artists had their artwork displayed at the Louvre in Paris as a part of a special exhibit titled “The Louvre invites the Comics“. Among the participating artists was Hirohiko Araki of Japan, the mangaka (comic book artist) who created the internationally acclaimed manga series Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.

Illustration by comic artist Hirohiko Araki, whose art has been featured in the Louvre.

As we can see, comics, manga, and graphic novels have continuously proven their legitimacy as a media for art and storytelling. They can offer a fulfilling reading experience for people of any age, often with a smaller time commitment. As a visual medium, graphic novels are distinctly poised to enrich the experience of stories in which world-building or character nuance is key. The novel’s artwork allows the author’s vision to be communicated in the truest way. There exist many comic book adaptations of already existing classic or acclaimed literature. Here is a list of 5 graphic novels based off your favorite stories to help get you break into the world of comics.


wrinkle-in-time-coverA Wrinkle In Time

Adapted by Hope Larson / Based on Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time
Grahic Novel – Monochrome / Sci-Fi, Adventure
Published by Margaret Ferguson Books

Many Americans remember A Wrinkle in Time as “that confusing sci-fi book” from their middle school English class days. You may have had the chance to revisit this story with the recently released live action adaptation. If you just can’t get enough, pick up a copy of Hope Larson’s A Wrinkle in Time and see how the medium of the graphic novel has transformed this familiar yet delightfully strange story.


Adapted by Kaoru Mori (writing & art) / Based on Jane Austin’s Emma
Manga – Black and White / Historical Fiction, Romance
Published by Yen Press

In Japan, comic books are called manga, and have developed their own iconic look and conventions for telling stories.  They are marked by their unique art style (sometimes also referred to as “anime style,” after their animated, and more widely known equivalent) their inventive use of paneling and emotive character expression.

While I have not personally read this adaptation of Emma, I have read Mori’s other work, A Bride’s Story, a collection of stories from the perspective of different women in the historical Middle East and Central Asia. Mori’s artistic attention to detail, especially in clothes and home decor is astounding and her nuance in character development make her perfectly suited to adapting this classic novel.

Note: read from left to right, as per the original layout in the Japanese language.


max-ride-coverMaximum Ride

Adapted by Narae Lee (story & art) / Based on James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series
Manga – Black and White / Urban Fantasy, Action
Published by Yen Press

For the thrill junkie, check out Narae Lee’s adaptation of James Patterson’s wildly popular Maximum Ride series. The story centers around a “flock” of children all genetically enhanced with wings and other abilities, as they evade the cruel and shadowy organization that made them that way. I personally think that the fast-paced nature of the story and the fantastic details of the plot lend themselves better to a graphic novel than a traditional book. For that reason, this manga series is, in my opinion, the best way to experience the Maximum Ride saga.


lastunicorn_tpb_cvrThe Last Unicorn

Adapted by Peter B. Gillis (story) Renae De Liz (art) & Peter Dillion (art)
Based on Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn
Graphic Novel / Color
Published by Idea & Design Works LLC

You may take on look at that word “unicorn” and conjure up notions of silly, girlish, fantasies swathed in pink. Nevertheless, you will find something a fair bit more nuanced and mature in The Last Unicorn, though no less pretty to look at. This story feels equal parts folk and fairytale, and the art style of the graphic novel adaptation does an excellent job evoking the unnerving yet alluring nature of both. The story revolves around the eponymous last unicorn as she leaves her forest to search for her kin, rumored to be missing by malicious means. She is joined by a clumsy magician and courageous bar maid as they forge into the territory of the ruthless King Haggard in order to discover the truth.



Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Adapted by Andy Seto (story & art)
Based on The Iron-Crane Pentology by Wang Dulu
Historical Fantasy, Wuxia (Martial Arts Action Adventure), Romance
Manhua / Color
Published by Comics One

You may not have known that director Ang Lee’s year-2000 award-winning martial arts epic was based upon a series of novels dubbed the Iron-Crane Pentology. Or that it was further adapted into a gorgeously illustrated manhua (Chinese graphic novel) series. Inspired in combination by the original novel series and the movie, this adaptation of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, offers an action-packed, drama-filled saga set in a fantastical interpretation of historical China surrounding the wielders of  the legendary sword, Green Destiny, and those who would seek to steal or destroy it.

Originally posted May 3, 2018
Written by Mikaila Norman

Illuminating the Future: The Importance of Holocaust Literature

The Holocaust Memorial of Valašské Meziříčí, Czech Republic. Image Credit: Radim Holiš | Wikimedia Commons

April is a reminder of spring, a celebration of poetry, and the start of much new life. However, it is also a time to remember the depths of human suffering and not shy away from our horrific communal history.

In less than a month, the world will see the 73rd anniversary of V-E Day, or Victory in Europe Day, when the German military signed an unconditional surrender agreement, ending World War II on the continent. This moment started the freeing of thousands of prisoners in killing camps, work camps, and concentration camps throughout Nazi-occupied Europe. Thousands died after the camps were liberated, already too starved and sick to carry on.

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin, Germany. Image via

This year, April 12 marked Holocaust Remembrance Day, when we pause to reflect on our past and the millions of lives lost—and thousands saved—over the course of the Shoah. Today there are less than half a million Holocaust survivors left, including those who lived under Occupied rule during the war, even if they were not sent to camps. However, the number is dropping fast, as even the youngest survivors are now in their eighties and nineties. They are scattered all over the world, with some living in poverty and most still haunted by the loss of family and the memories of torture and dehumanization by their own governments.

As survivors dwindle and echoes of the actions leading to the Holocaust can be heard today, it is more important than ever to remember and learn from the lessons of the past so we do not risk repeating it. If you are interested in making the historical journey this month, here are some resources to get you started:

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The website for the famous museum, located in Washington, D.C., has countless resources for a variety of ages, both print and digital, including videos, interviews, pictures, articles, and documents.

Estelle Laughlin, Holocaust survivor and public speaker. Image Credit: Joshua Polson | The Greenley Tribune

The curators have also helpfully divided their material into themes, including Early Warning Signs, Justice and Accountability, Liberation 1945, Rescue, and American Responses. The Early Warning Signs material is especially appropriate now as the world confronts the Syrian chemical attacks and the fate of thousands of refugees.

On the site’s “Why We Remember the Holocaust” video, survivor Estelle Laughlin says it best: “That’s not enough to curse the darkness of the past. Above all, we have to illuminate the future. And I think that on the Day of Remembrance the most important thing is to remember the humanity that is in all of us to leave the world better for our children and for posterity.”

Rose Under Fire and Lilac Girls

Both of these novels tell the stories of the “Ravensbrück Rabbits,” a group of 74 female Polish political prisoners who were forced to endure heinous medical experiments. These experiments were supposedly to test the efficacy of drugs and the recovery rates of war wounds, but in practice inflicted permanent damage by cutting open the women’s legs and introducing bacteria and foreign objects and also fracturing or removing bone. Another 12 women of different nationalities were also subjected to these types of experiments. Many of the Rabbits were very young—either high school or university students—and needed medical treatment after being freed for decades in order to gain back use of their legs or even just live healthy lives.

Rose Under Fire

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein is a young adult novel and a companion to her earlier World War II book, Code Name Verity, which depicts a young female spy captured by German forces. Rose Under Fire features the desperate fight for survival by the Rabbits through the eyes of a stranded American female pilot brought to the all-women concentration camp as a political prisoner. There, she bands together with fellow prisoners to keep one another alive, and possibly even escape. The book has been a finalist for numerous awards, winning the Josette Frank Award and the Schneider Family Book Award and being named an honor book of the Golden Kite Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and the ABA Indies Choice Award for Young Adult.


Lilac Girls

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly is a historical fiction novel told from the perspectives of three different women living in the U.S., Poland, and Germany. The first is Caroline, a young American woman working at the French consulate in 1939 who sees the increased desperation for visas from the French as Germany takes over Poland. She is based on a real woman who helped the Rabbits receive treatment after the war in the U. S. The second is Kasia, a fictional Rabbit who starts as a high school girl working for the Polish resistance before being captured by the Nazis. She becomes a target of the experiments carried out by real-life German surgeon Herta Oberheuser, who was the only woman to work as a doctor in the camp. As the story continues, their lives become increasingly intertwined and complicated by their experiences. Lilac Girls is unique in attempting to cover a Nazi doctor’s perspective, especially a female doctor. The book has become a New York Times bestseller since its release in 2016 and was dubbed a USA Today “New and Noteworthy” book. The true story of the Rabbits is currently being adapted into a documentary film called Saving the Rabbits of Ravensbrück by producer/director Stacey Fitzgerald, assisted by Lilac Girls author Martha Hall Kelly.

Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum

The railway gate of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, now the site of a memorial and museum. Image via

The name Auschwitz is infamous throughout much of the world, but the website dedicated to recording the history of the largest concentration camp and extermination center of the Holocaust offers tons of information.

Under the history page, visitors can find information about day-to-day life in the camps, the different classifications of prisoners and their treatment, and the systematic killing prisoners, particularly Jews. Each section is brief, but packed with facts of some of the worst crimes perpetuated against human beings. There are also further details broken down by time period, affected population, and category. The education page also has extensive online lessons for students of all ages.

While it is tempting to turn our heads from the truth of the Holocaust, there is still more to learn so we can stop the process of genocide as soon as the familiar signs start to appear. Stay vigilant, stay informed.

How to Celebrate World Book Day

Happy World Book and Copyright Day!

Dating back to April 23, 1995, this celebration was started by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote reading, publishing, and copyright. April 23 is the anniversary of the deaths of William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes, and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.

Each year since 2001, UNESCO chooses a city to act as the World Book Capital. This city then plans events and programs over the next year to promote and foster reading. The World Book Capital for 2018 is Athens, Greece, with the 2019 title going to Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

World Book Day is observed in more than 100 countries, so how does the world celebrate?

In Spain, the king and queen present the Cervantes Prize in Alcalá de Henares, the birthplace of the famous writer. About twenty miles away in Madrid, Cervantes’ Don Quixote is read non-stop for 48 hours.

The United Kingdom celebrated World Book Day this year on March 1, with children dressing up as their favorite characters and attending school and community events. Book tokens worth £1 are handed out to children, who then use them to buy books or exchange them for specific World Book Day books.

In other countries, World Book Day is celebrated with special book discounts, costumes, and lots and lots of social media posts about gorgeous libraries.

Here are some ideas for how you can celebrate:

  1. Create a literary scavenger hunt with friends.
  2. Read an entire book today.
  3. Visit your local bookstore and/or library.
  4. Organize your bookshelf.
  5. Dress up as your favorite literary character.
  6. Attend a reading—or host your own.
  7. Download Amazon’s nine free World Book Day Kindle books.
  8. Donate your old books to pass on the gift of reading.
  9. Start a book club or book swap.  
  10. Use your favorite quote as a writing prompt.

Here at New Rivers Press, we’re celebrating by continuing our work of giving a platform to new and emerging voices. How are you celebrating? Let us know in the comments below!

National Poetry Month 2018

Poetry, is a highly underappreciated type of literature, often overlooked by readers. April, however, is the perfect time to push your literary boundaries and branch out into the expansive world of poetry. National poetry month began back in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. Teachers, librarians, poets, publishers, and others involved in literature met at a conference to discuss how to raise more awareness of poetry. After the success of other movements upon the creation of a national holiday, national poetry month was born. Whether you are interested in just reading poetry or creating stanzas of your own, poetry is finally receiving the appreciation it deserves.

If you are interested in writing poetry of your own here are some beginner’s tips:

  • Try reading a variety of poetry.
  • Designate a special notebook to write your poetry.
  • Expand your vocabulary.
  • Stay away from clichés.
  • Use the internet! Find some interesting poetry prompts.
  • Don’t strive for perfection. Every poem will not be perfect!

If you are interested in reading more poetry, I complied a diverse selection of poetry that might become your new favorite.

Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur

A Light in the Attic, Shel Silverstein

A Boy’s Will, Robert Frost

The Black Unicorn: Poems, Audre Lorde

The Collected Poems, Sylvia Plath

Written by Lauren Phillips
Originally Posted April 10, 2018