Chapbook Contest Finalists

The editors at New Rivers Press are excited to announce the finalists for the New Rivers Press Chapbook competition! From here, the manuscripts will be handed to the students in our Practicum in Publishing class at Minnesota State University Moorhead to make the final decision. Stay tuned for the announcement of the winner(s) at the end of the month! 

  • La Bamba by Ryan Rivas 
  • Cooking Tips for the Demon-Haunted by Kathryn Kulpa 
  • The Divine in You by Reshmi Hebbar 
  • fields drawn from subtle arrows by Ceridwen Hall 
  • Instar by Erika Kielsgard 
  • There is No Happy Ending by Sophia Liu 
  • Tiny Creatures by Eliezra Schaffzin 
  • a woman made entirely of air by Romana Iorga 

Ceridwen Hall (fields drawn from subtle arrows) is a poet and book coach from Ohio. She holds a PhD from the University of Utah and is the author of two chapbooks: Automotive (Finishing Line Press) and Excursions (Train Wreck Press). Her work has appeared in TriQuarterly, Pembroke Magazine, Tar River Poetry, The Cincinnati Review, and other journalsYou can find her at

Reshmi Hebbar (The Divine in You) (@reshmijhebbar) has written more stories about Pallavi and her friends that have been published or are forthcoming in The South Carolina Review, Ponder Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, The Chaffin Journal, and several others and are part of a longer, linked collection currently seeking representation. She is an emerging writer and professor of multicultural literature at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta who has published essays on ethnicity and identity at Slate and Khabar Magazine. Her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. 

Originally from Chisinau, Moldova, Romana Iorga (a woman made entirely of air) is the author of two poetry collections in Romanian. Her work in English has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals, including the New England Review, Salamander, The Nation, as well as on her poetry blog at

Erika Kielsgard (Instar) is an adjunct lecturer and horticulture student in Brooklyn, NY. She is a writer, singer, and artist researching disruptive patterns for protective concealment in nature. Most recently, their work is in Footprints: an anthology of new ecopoetry (Broken Sleep Books, 2022), and has found generous homes in Bone BouquetCordella MagazineMaudlin HouseThe Penn ReviewVolume, and others. Erika has readings recorded with The Brooklyn RailFuturepoem, and SAND, as well as an animated interview on Life Touching Life that premiered at SLSA (Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts) in 2021. She holds a BA in psychology from George Mason University and an MFA in poetry from Brooklyn College. 

Kathryn Kulpa (Cooking Tips for the Demon-Haunted) has words in Ellipsis, Five South, Flash Frog, Milk Candy Review, Monkeybicycle, No Contact, Pithead Chapel, and Wigleaf. She is the author of a story collection, Pleasant Drugs (Midlist Press) a micro-chapbook, Who’s the Skirt? (Origami Poems Project), and a flash chapbook Girls on Film (Paper Nautilus), winner of the Vella Chapbook Contest. Her stories have been chosen for Best Microfiction and the Wigleaf longlist. She is a flash editor at Cleaver magazine. 

Sophia Liu (There is No Happy Ending) is an American poet and interdisciplinary artist. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Frontier Poetry, Muzzle Magazine, DIALOGIST, Superstition Review, Storm Cellar, Underblong, and elsewhere. 

Ryan Rivas (La Bamba) is the author of Nextdoor in Colonialtown (Autofocus 2022). He is the Publisher of Burrow Press, and the Coordinator of MFA Publishing at Stetson University’s MFA of the Americas creative writing program. A Macondo Writers Workshop fellow, his work has appeared in The Believer, The Rumpus, Literary Hub, Necessary Fiction, Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012, and elsewhere. (Photo credit: Ian MacAllen)

Eliezra Schaffzin (Tiny Creatures) is a recipient of the Calvino Prize, awarded for a work of fabulist, experimental fiction. Her work has also been recognized by the Virginia Woolf Award for Short Fiction, the SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction, and the Glimmer Train Fiction Open, and has appeared in Conjunctions, PANK, the HarperPerennial Anthology Forty Stories, and other publications. Schaffzin lives in New England, where she has taught writing at Harvard University and the Rhode Island School of Design. She’s currently at work on a novel about two girls in love against a backdrop of college applications, Beethoven’s choral music, religious apocalypticism, and “innovative” aerial drones.

Many Voices Project Poetry Finalists 2018

As we said last week with the prose finalists, it’s always a daunting task to find finalists from amongst hundreds of submissions. However, we’ve finally got our list, and just in time for the end of Poetry Month. We’re happy to announce our top ten finalists for the Many Voices Project competition in Poetry!

Francine Conley (What Sweetness from Salt) is a writer and performing artist. She has a chapbook, How Dumb the Stars (Parallel Press). After a good decade of performing multimedia solo shows as well as touring collective productions with a Franco-American theater troupe, Le Théâtre de la Chandelle Verte, she earned her MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson in 2014. Since graduating her poems and reviews have been published in places like: American Literary ReviewThe Collagist, Green Mountains Review, Fogged Clarity, Juked, Pink Panther Magazine, The New England Review, Sky Island Journal, Tinderbox, and more. For more on her arts:


Rebecca A. Durham (Half-Life of Empathy) is a poet, botanist, and artist. Originally from New England, she now calls Montana home. She holds a B.A. in Biology from Colby College, a M.S. in Botany from Oregon State University, and a M.F.A. in Creative Writing (Poetry) from the University of Montana. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Rebecca’s writing has appeared in Orion Magazine, Superstition Review, Pilgrimage Magazine, Riverfeet Press Anthology: Awake in the World, Mud Season Review, Meniscus, Epiphany Magazine, Pacific Review, Mantis, Bright Bones: Contemporary Montana Writing, Poetry Northwest, and is forthcoming in Cold Mountain Review and Exposition Review. You may find more of her work at


Eva Heisler (Lexicon of Old Devotions) is a Maryland-born poet and art historian. Her poems have been widely published in journals, including BOMB, Crazyhorse, RHINO. Poetry Northwest, and Tupelo Quarterly. She has published two books of poems: Reading Emily Dickinson in Icelandic (Kore Press) and Drawing Water (Noctuary Press). Honors include a Fulbright grant to Iceland, the Poetry Society of America’s Emily Dickinson Award, and fellowships at the Millay Colony for the Arts and the MacDowell Colony.



Amir Hussain (Still Life) is a multidisciplinary poet and scholar, whose poems have appeared in many journals, including Beloit Poetry JournalFaultlineMizna, andWater~Stone Review. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota. He is currently a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at Emory University, where he is working on a project on comparative poetics.




Megan Leonard‘s (Book of Lullabies) poetry can be found most recently in Sharkpack Annual, Outlook Springs, Transom, and Reservoir. Her digital chapbook, where the body ends, is available through Platypus Press. Megan lives and works on New Hampshire’s seacoast.




Nathan Manley (De Horae, The Extant Fragments) is a writer and teacher living in Loveland, Colorado. He holds a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Northern Colorado, and his first chapbook, Numina Loci, was published in the spring of 2018 by Mighty Rogue Press. His poems have appeared (and are forthcoming) in literary journals both online and in print, includingThink, About Place Journal, Flint Hills Review, and others. His has also been nominated for inclusion in Best of the Net.



Bino A. Realuyo (The Rebel Sonnets) is the author of The Gods We Worship Live Next Door, which won a 2005 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry. His poems have appeared in The Nation, The Kenyon Review, The Missouri Review, ZYZZYVA’s Resistance Issue, New Letters, Manoa: International Journal of Pacific Writing, Mid-American Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and The Literary Review. A graduate of Harvard University, he lives in New York City and works as an adult educator and immigrant rights activist. His website:



Jennifer A. Reimer (Keske), Lise Meitner postdoctoral fellow in American Studies at the University of Graz in Austria, received her PhD in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley in 2011, and her MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco in 2005. Jennifer has numerous scholarly and creative publications. Her first prose poetry book, The Rainy Season Diaries, was released in 2013 by Quale Press. The Turkish translation of The Rainy Season Diaries was released by Şiirden Press (Istanbul) in 2017. She is the co-founder and co-editor of Achiote Press, an independent press dedicated to spotlighting underrepresented authors and artists. A proud California native, Jennifer now lives in Austria. Follow her on FB (Jennifer Andrea) and Instagram (@jenniandreaca).


Susan Sonde (Evenins at the Table of an Intoxicant) is an award-winning poet and short story writer. Her debut collection: In the Longboats with Others won the Capricorn Book Award and was published by New Rivers Press. The Arsonist, her fifth collection will be released May 2019 from Main Street Rag. Grants and awards include, a National Endowment Award in poetry; grants in fiction and poetry from The Maryland State Arts Council; The Gordon Barber Memorial Award from The Poetry Society of America. Her collection The Chalk Line was a finalist in The National Poetry Series. Individual poems have appeared in Barrow Street, The North American Review, The Southern Humanities Review, The Mississippi Review, American Letters and Commentary, Bomb, New Letters, Southern Poetry Review, and many others.


JD Trejo-Maya (Desert Sands) was born in Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico, where he spent his childhood in the small neighboring rural pueblo of Tarimoró and where from he immigrated in 1988. His inspirations include Netzahualcoyotl, Humberto Ak’abal, Ray A. Young Bear, and James Welch. Published in various literary journals/sites in the UK, US, Spain, India, Australia, Argentina, and Germany. Pushcart Prize nominee in 2015 and was awarded Tercer Premio from El Centro Canario Estudios Caribeños – El Atlántico – en el Certamen Internacional de Poesía “La calle que tú me das” 2016. While in ceremony with Chololo medicine men in the Tule River Reservation he dreamt the above written prophecy…

Many Voices Project Prose Finalists 2018

Reading through hundreds of submissions each year and narrowing the field down to only ten finalists is always a daunting, and exciting, task. We’ve excited to announce this year’s top ten prose manuscripts for the Many Voices Project: Prose competition.


Farah Ali (People Want to Live) is from Karachi, Pakistan. Her more recent work can be found in Copper Nickel, The Arkansas International, Kenyon Review Online and Ecotone. She received a special mention in the 2018 Pushcart Prizes for a story published in the J Journal, and was the winner of the Colorado Review’s 2016 Nelligan Prize. She also won Copper Nickel’s Editors’ Prize in Prose for the fall 2018 issue. She can be reached via


Kari Nielsen Amlie (Koloniya) is originally from Montana and received a BA in English from Middlebury College. Before starting an MFA program at the University of Wyoming, she worked as a guide and wilderness ranger in Montana, Utah, Patagonia, and Alaska. Her work has been anthologized in Waymaking andWanderlust: A Narrative Map and appears in The Esthetic Apostle and CIRQUE.


Robert Long Foreman‘s (Deep Feeling) short fiction has won a Pushcart Prize, and his first novel, WEIRD PIG, won the Nilsen Prize for a First Novel. His first book, AMONG OTHER THINGS, an essay collection, was published in early 2017 by Pleiades Press. His work has appeared in CrazyhorseAgniBarrelhouseKenyon Review Online, and elsewhere. He lives in Kansas City.



Jessica Hollander’s (Resurrection Without Wings) previous short story collection In These Times the Home is a Tired Place won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize, published by the University of North Texas Press. Her stories have appeared in journals such as The Georgia Review, The Cincinnati Review, The Journal, Sonora Review, Cimarron Review, Bat City ReviewHotel Amerika, and more. She received her MFA from the University of Alabama and is an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska Kearney.



Miah Jeffra (The Violence Almanac) is author of the essay collections The First Church of What’s Happening (Nomadic Press 2017) and The Fabulous Ekphrastic Fantastic! (forthcoming Sibling Rivalry Press 2019). Awards include the New Millennium Prize for fiction, the Sidney Lanier Fiction Prize, The Atticus Review Creative Nonfiction Prize, the Alice Judson Hayes Fellowship, a Lambda Literary Fellowship, and finalist for the Prairie Schooner, Robert C Jones and St. Lawrence Book Prizes. Residencies include Ragdale and The Hub City Writers Project. Recent publications include The North American Review, Fourteen Hills Review, The Atticus Review, The Nervous Breakdown and Fifth Wednesday. Miah is founding editor of queer literary collaborative, Foglifter Press.


Beaudelaine Pierre (You May Have the Suitcase Now) is Haitian born and raised and now lives in Minnesota with her two children, Annie and Max. Her debut novel Testaman won First Prize in the 2002 Best Creole-Language Novel Contest sponsored by the newspaper Bon Nouvel in Port-Au-Prince. Pierre is an alum of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Her most recent novel, L’enfant qui voulait devenir President is published by Les Editions Harmattan. In 2012, she co-edited with Natasa Durovicova, How to Write an Earthquake, a trilingual anthology in English, French, and Creole, that constitutes a collective response from Haitian writers across the globe to the catastrophe Haiti suffered on January 12, 2010. Pierre is currently a doctoral candidate in the Gender Women and Sexuality Studies department at the University of Minnesota.


Christina Quintana (CQ) (A Slip of Moon) is a New York-based writer with Cuban and Louisiana roots. She is the author of SCISSORING (Dramatists Play Service, 2019) and the chapbook of poetry, THE HEART WANTS (Finishing Line Press, 2016). Her poetry and prose has appeared in Saw Palm, Nimrod Journal, Foglifter, and OnCuba, among others. She is the recipient of fellowships from MacDowell, Playwrights Realm, Van Lier New Voices at the Lark, and Lambda Literary, and received her MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University. For more, visit



Karin Spirn (The Divine Sharpness in the Heart of God) is a writer, community college instructor and martial artist living in Oakland, California. She holds a Phd in English from the University of Michigan and has published work in Bust and Hip Mamamagazines. Her writing and illustrations can be found at



Sonja Swift (Echo Loba) writes to explore the contours of place as land, home, language, memory and identity. Her work has appeared most recently in Barren Magazine, FIRE & RAIN: Ecopoetry of California, a publication of Scarlet Tanager Press, Catamaran Literary Reader, Virga Magazine, Kestrel: A Journal of Art and Literature, Alphabet Atlas, a chapbook of prose poems published by Deconstructed Artichoke Press, and Tarot of Transformation, a long form creative nonfiction published by True Story, a publication of Creative Nonfiction. She recently completed an MFA at California College of the Arts. Together with her husband and son, she calls home both the Bay Area, California, and the Black Hills, South Dakota.


Philippine-born and LA-raised, Elsa Valmidiano (We are No Longer Babaylan) is a writer and poet who calls Oakland home. For several years, Elsa was a women’s reproductive rights activist, and incorporates much of that former activism into her writing. Her works have appeared in various literary journals such as TAYO, make/shift, As/Us, Literature for Life, Anti-Heroin Chic, Mud Season Review, Yes Poetry, Northridge Review, Memoir Magazine, and Cosmonauts Avenue, as well as various anthologies such as Field of Mirrors, Walang Hiya, Circe’s Lament, Precipice, and forthcoming in What God Is Honored Here. Elsa is an alum of the DISQUIET International Literary Program in Lisbon and Summer Literary Seminars that was hosted in Tbilisi. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College and has performed numerous readings. She is a Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominee. She blogs regularly at


Congratulations to our American Fiction 17 winners!

We here at New Rivers Press are proud to announce our American Fiction 17 authors! This edition will be a short story anthology featuring 19 new or emerging authors, and we are very excited to bring you both the lineup of this publication and some information about our authors!

Edition 17’s first place winner is “Distinctions” by David Fuks.

David Fuks lives and writes in Portland, Oregon, where he also works as an actor. The son of Holocaust survivors, he received degrees in both English Literature and Social Work from the University of Michigan. As a writer of both humorous and poignant stories, David is often asked to read his work at public gatherings. He was a member of the successful improvisational comedy group, “Waggie and Friends”. David benefits from constant correction by his wife, DeAnn.

The second place winner of edition 17 is “Catalina” by Charles Duffie.

Charles Duffie is a writer and designer based in the Los Angeles area where he lives with his wife and daughters. His work has been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books and Role Reboot.

In third place is “Barn Find”, the debut of author Matthew Fitch.

Matthew Fitch is an attorney living and working in Hartford, Connecticut. ‘Barn Find’ is his first publication.

Congratulations to our top three authors, and congratulations to everyone who made it into the publication! The remaining 16 authors and their bios are listed below in alphabetical order.

“The Owls of El Centro” by William Burtch

William Burtch is a former investment professional. In his sixth decade he awakened a compulsion to write. His single-panel comic collaborations have appeared in national outdoor periodicals. From his wife he receives boundless inspiration and perspective as she defeats an insidious adversary, ovarian cancer. He holds an MBA from Miami University of Ohio and is a member of the Ohio Writers’ Association.

“Small Victories” by David DeFusco

Dave DeFusco has published short stories in BLYNKT, Drunk Monkeys, Halfway Down the Stairs and Literary Heist. He spent thirty years in various roles promoting universities: American, Fairfield, and Yale. He’s putting together a collection of short stories and is in revision on a novel. He has three grown children and lives a quiet life in Connecticut.

“Deceiving Angels” by Craig Demi

C.A.Demi is a writer currently living in Providence. He received a 2016 Fellowship Award in Fiction by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. In addition to short fiction, which has appeared in ‘Missing Providence; A Frequency Anthology’ and ‘Meat for Tea; The Valley Review’, Craig is at work on a novel set in the forests and steel and coal towns of his native Pennsylvania.

“Curses” by Kathleene Donahoo

Kathleene Donahoo’s fiction has appeared in many journals, including Bellevue Literary Review, Carolina Quarterly, Connecticut Review, and North American Review. She has a PhD in Economics from Yale, worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and now lives with her husband in the Bay Area.

“The Shabbos Goy” by Kathleen Ford

Kathleen Ford has published more than fifty stories in both commercial magazines, including Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, and Yankee, and literary quarterlies, including Antioch, Sewanee, Southern Review, and North American Review. “Man on the Run,” a story first printed in The New England Review, was published in BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES, 1912. Kathleen’s first novel was published by St. Martin’s Press and she received a Christopher Isherwood Fellowship and a Hackney Literary Prize.

“Batter Swing” by L.A. Harris

L.A. Harris was born and raised in the Appalachian mountains of Southwest Virginia with detours since through Durham, North Carolina, and Baltimore, Maryland. She currently lives and writes in Denver, Colorado, and is finishing a first novel.

“Kalo Livadi” by Jennifer Lee

Jennifer Lee is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins MA Writing Program and an editor at the Baltimore Review.  Her wo rk has appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly, Phoebe, the Bellevue Literary Review, The Greensboro Review, Monkeybicycle, and elsewhere. Her work has won the Maryland Writers’ Association short fiction prize and has been nominated for a Pushcart Award. She is currently hard at work on a looming science fiction project, among other things. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland, where she teaches middle school math and pursues her interests.

Winter Grass” by Ramona Long

Ramona DeFelice Long writes short fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir, and personal essays about women, family and culture, and the foibles and quirks of everyday life. Her work has appeared in numerous literary and regional publications, and she is happiest on retreat, at a residency, or sharing stories at open mics. She is a transplanted Southerner living in Delaware.

“Lies We Tell” by Kieran McBride

Kieran McBride goes by ’kaɪ-rən, though this pronunciation is technically incorrect. He writes stories about deceased girlfriends, mafia fathers, talking islands, dystopian penguins, and soccer. He was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas, graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in Creative Writing. He currently resides in Kansas City with his wife and son.

“Afternoon of the Hero” by Claire Noonan

Ms. Noonan has consulted since 1985 for the Bay Area Writing Project; published short stories: “The Locavore’s Tale”- Spring 2012, The Writing Disorder and “The Laundromat Friend”- October 2017, 34th PARALLEL MAGAZINE; and writes non-fiction posts for the education blog See about her novel The House on Harrigan’s Hill by C.J. Noonan, Sea-Hill Press, April 2011. BA from UC, Berkeley, and MA from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, she was an elementary teacher.

“Driving Lessons” by Gordot Perdue/Christl Perkins

Christl Perkins is a writer currently living in Oakland, CA. As a travel journalist in the 1990s, she published numerous articles (under her real name as well as pseudonyms) in Beijing Scene, City Weekend, Metro, and That’s Shanghai. In the China market, she concentrated on Chinese arts, culture, entertainment, as well as business and economics. She has compiled, edited, and written travel and business guides including the Beijing Scene Guidebook and the Naga China Business Guide.

“The Way to Baghdad” by Nektaria Petrou

Nektaria Petrou’s work has appeared in The Huffington Post, Al-Monitor, Daily Sabah, Mashallah News, Panoply, East of the Web, Sixfold, The Shanghai Literary Review, and Eclectica.  Petrou received honorable mentions in Ruminate‘s 2015 Short Fiction Contest and Glimmertrain’s New Writer Contest (May/June 2017). She recently completed a novel about the Greeks of Istanbul, where she lives and works.

“Surely Goodness” by Jeremy Schnotala

Jeremy Schnotala just finished his MFA in creative writing at Western Michigan University. He lives with his husband in Grand Rapids, MI where he has taught English and creative writing and directed theater in the public schools for twenty-four years. He was the 2018 winner of both the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival fiction contest and The Tishman Review’s Tillie Olsen short story award. Other recent work can be seen in Temenos Literary Journal, Beecher’s Magazine, and Chagrin River Review. Check out his website at for more information.

“Three Figures of Near Silence” by Darci Schummer

Darci Schummer is the author of the story collection Six Months in the Midwest (Unsolicited Press), and the novel The Ballad of Two Sisters , which is forthcoming from Expat Press. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Necessary Fiction , Midwestern Gothic , Compose Journal , and Synaesthesia Magazine , among other places. She teaches writing at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College and serves as editor for the College’s literary and arts journal, The Thunderbird Review .

“Magician” by Rosanna Staffa

Rosanna Staffa is published by The Sun and Tampa Review among others. Her work appears in New Rivers Press’ American Fiction Anthology, The Best New and Unpublished Writers Vol. 15. She was selected for the Masters Review Anthology Prize, Vol. VII. Her plays have been staged in Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and Minneapolis. She has been awarded fellowships by the McKnight and Jerome Foundation, and an AT/T On Stage grant.

“Between My Ribs” by Riba Taylor

Through twenty years of writing I’ve often let my teaching work gobble up my time. I’m changing that now, finishing a memoir and a novel. I found out my story was a finalist on the first of five days I’d devoted to my writing, and I’m certain this gift came because I turned toward my writing in this way, my “attagirl” from the universe. I’m grateful and honored and delighted it is New Rivers Press.

A special thank you to Colin Fleming, who judged submissions for this edition of American Fiction.

Colin Fleming’s short fiction has appeared in Harper’s, Commentary, AGNI, Post Road, Glimmer Train, Post Road, Cincinnati Review, and Boulevard. He is widely published expert on art, literature, sports, music, and film, the preeminent Beatles authority, and a leading writer of op-eds, with his nonfiction appearing in Rolling Stone, Slate, Salon, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, USA Today, The Guardian, Sports Illustrated, and many other publications. He is a regular guest on numerous radio programs and podcasts, a long-time NPR contributor, and the author of Dark March: Stories for When the Rest of the World is Asleep, Between Cloud and Horizon: A Relationship Casebook in Stories, and The Anglerfish Comedy Troupe: Stories from the Abyss. His next book, coming in spring 2019, is Buried on the Beaches: Cape Stories for Hooked Hearts and Driftwood Souls, to be followed by a volume looking at the 1951 film Scrooge as the ultimate horror movie. Find him on the web at, where there are hundreds of examples of his writing, and the accompanying Many Moments More blog, which documents the day in, day out life of an artist.

Thanks so much to everyone who submitted entries for this edition of American Fiction! Keep your eyes and ears open for the release.

MVP Poetry Finalists

Back in April, we announced our Prose finalists. Now it’s the poets turn! One of these poet’s manuscripts will be selected for publication!

aokiElizabeth “Betsy” Aoki (Coder Girl Takes Over) has received grants from the City of Seattle, Artist Trust Foundation, and a Hedgebrook residency. Her poetry publications include the chapbook, Every Vanish Leaves Its Trace by Finishing Line Press, and The Seattle Times, Nassau Review, Carbon Culture Review, Enizagam, Phoebe, Poetry East, Hunger Mountain, Nimrod, and Poetry Northwest. (Photo Credit: JLD Imagery)

Tara Ballard (House of the Night Watch) was born and raised in Alaska. For seven years now, she and her husband have been living ballardin the Middle East and West Africa, where they teach English literature to high school students and travel often throughout the regions. Tara holds an MFA from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and her poems have been published or recently accepted by Cutthroat: A Journal of the ArtsOneSalamanderThe Southampton ReviewWar, Literature and the Arts; and other literary magazines.

borowiczKarina Borowicz (Touch Stone) is the author of two poetry collections, Proof (Codhill Press, 2014) and The Bees Are Waiting (Marick Press, 2012), which won the Eric Hoffer Award for Poetry and was named a Must-Read by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. Her poems have appeared widely in journals, and have been featured in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry series and on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. Trained as an historian, Borowicz also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Hampshire. She makes her home in the Connecticut River Valley of Western Massachusetts. Visit her website at

Lauren Rooker Cardwell’s (Incarnate) poetry has appeared in Cider Press ReviewCrab Orchard ReviewMatterPainted Bride cardwellQuarterly, and elsewhere. Her poetry collection, Incarnate, was a semifinalist for the 2017 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry, and an earlier version of the same manuscript was the finalist for the 2011 Perugia Press Prize. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. She works as a doula, childbirth educator, and homeschool teacher in Nashville, where she lives with her husband and their four children.

dowHannah Dow (Rosarium) is a PhD candidate at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers, where she has served as an Associate Editor for Mississippi Review. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in North American ReviewNinth LetterCrab Orchard Review, and The Journal, among others. She has received finalist nods and honorable mentions from the AWP Intro Journals Project, the Sycamore Review Wabash Prize, and the American Literary Review annual contest.

Patrick Cabello Hansel (The Devouring Land) has published poems, short stories and essays in over 40 anthologies and hanseljournals, including Painted Bride Quarterly, Epiphany, Ilanot Review, Lunch Ticket, The Meadow, Ash and Bones, Switchback, Poetica, subprimal and Hawai’i Pacific Review. He was a 2008-2009 Loft Literary Center (MN) mentee, and a 2011 grantee of the MN State Art Board. His novella Searching was serialized in 33 issues of The Alley News. He is the editor of The Phoenix of Phillips, a new literary magazine for and by people of Phillips, the most diverse neighborhood in Minneapolis. He and his wife Luisa pastor a bilingual church in Minneapolis.

nichollGreg Nicholl ((there) a town) lives in Baltimore and works in publishing. His poetry has most recently appeared in The Cortland Reivew, Crab Orchard Review, Ecotone, Nimrod, Post Road, Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, and elsewhere.

Kathryn Smith (No Wings, No Fins) is the author of Book of Exodus, a poetry collection smithforthcoming from Scablands Books. Her poems have been nominated for Best American Poetry and the Pushcart Prize, and have been published or are forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Laurel Review, Bellingham Review, the Collagist, Mid-American Review, Redivider, Southern Indiana Review, Duende and elsewhere. She is a graduate of the MFA program at Eastern Washington University and the recipient of a grant from the Spokane Arts Fund.

squillanteSheila Squillante (Mostly Human) is the author of the poetry collection, Beautiful Nerve (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016), and three chapbooks of poetry: In This Dream of My Father (Seven Kitchens, 2014), Women Who Pawn Their Jewelry (Finishing Line, 2012) and A Woman Traces the Shoreline (Dancing Girl, 2011). She is also co-author, along with Sandra L. Faulkner, of the writing craft book, Writing the Personal: Getting Your Stories Onto the Page (Sense Publishers, 2015). Recent work has appeared or will appear in places like Indiana Review, Copper Nickel, North Dakota Quarterly, Waxwing, Menacing Hedge and River Teeth. She teaches in the MFA program at Chatham University, where she edits The Fourth River, a journal of nature and place-based writing. From her couch in front of wonderful bad television, she edits the blog for Barrelhouse.

Diana Woodcock (Heaven Underfoot) is the author of two full-length collections of poetry, most recently Under the Spell of a Persian woodcockNightingale. Her first, Swaying on the Elephant’s Shoulders, won the 2010 Vernice Quebodeaux International Women’s Poetry Prize. Her seventh chapbook, Near the Arctic Circle, is forthcoming from Tiger’s Eye Press. Since receiving an MFA degree in Creative Writing in 2004, she has been teaching creative writing, environmental literature and composition at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar.  Previously, she spent nearly eight years working in Tibet, Macau, and on the Thai-Cambodian border.  She is a PhD candidate (creative writing/poetry) at Lancaster University.

zaroMariano Zaro’s (Under the Wrong Light) poems have been included in the anthologies Monster Verse (Penguin Random House), Wide Awake (Beyond Baroque, Venice, CA), The Coiled Serpent (Tía Chucha Press, San Fernando, CA), Angle of Reflection (Arctos Press, CA) and in several magazines in Spain, Mexico and the United States: Luces y Sombras (Tafalla, Spain), La Peste (México D.F.), LARB (Los Angeles Review of Books), Askew (Ventura, CA), Diálogo (DePaul University, Chicago), Zócalo Public Square (Arizona State University), Tupelo Quarterly (Finalist of the Tupelo Quarterly Inaugural Poetry Contest, Tupelo Press) and The New Guard Vol. V (Finalist). Since 2010 he conducts a series of video interviews with prominent American poets as part of the literary project Poetry.LA. (www.Poetry.LA). Mariano Zaro earned a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Granada (Spain) and a Master’s in Literature from the University of Zaragoza (Spain). He teaches Spanish for Heritage speakers at Rio Hondo College (Whittier, California).