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.

MVP 2018 Winners

After months of reading and reading, weeks of deliberating and discussing, we’re incredibly excited to announce the results of the 2018 Many Voices Project competitions!

Congratulations to our winners and Editors’ Choice picks! We’d also like to thank everyone who submitted. We look forward to sharing these amazing works with you all!


Our poetry winner this year is Rebecca Durham with Half-Life of Empathy.

Rebecca A. Durham 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


Our prose winner is Farah Ali with her short story collection People Want to Live.

Farah Ali 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

Editors’ Choice

This year, we have two Editors’ Choice selections, both from our prose contest. Beaudelaine Pierre’s You May Have the Suitcase Now and Elsa Valmidiano’s We Are No Longer Babaylan.

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.

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


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…

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

Deep Calls to Deep Cover Reveal

Coming November 1, 2017 from Jane Medved: a spirit-filled collection of poems that moves seamlessly from the “smell of bones” to the firmament of the heavens.





Jane Medved is the author of the poetry chapbook Olam, Shana, Nefish (Finishing Line Press, 2014). Her poems have appeared in such journals as Mudlark, Cimarron Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, and New American Writing. She is a graduate of the Shaindy Rudolph Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar Ilan University and the poetry editor of The Ilanot Review. A native of Chicago, Illinois, she has lived for the last twenty-five years in Jerusalem, Israel, where she currently teaches poetry at the WriteSpace Jerusalem studio.



Emily Zaharia is a third-year graphic design student with minors in Studio Art and Advertising. She aspires to be a graphic designer at an ad agency when she graduates.


PRAISE for Deep Calls to Deep

“Jane Medved’s Deep Calls to Deep is a dazzling, kaleidoscopic exploration of the many ways that history—both global and personal—impacts our lives. We are immersed in Medved’s astonishing universes, peopled by Cleopatra, Herod, and magical, warrior women who birth language and carry the burden of lost children. Marked by war and loss, these poems are also reverent, beautiful, and defiant: a woman buried in honey for seven years continues to haunt her husband. A mother mourns her child at a graveyard where ‘boys blossom, box after box.’ With great agility and skill, Medved crafts ghazals, sonnets, and free verse poems that rouse us with sonic pleasures. ‘You are flammable,’ the author reminds us, and indeed, in Medved’s poetry, we are.”

—Hadara Bar-Nadav, author of Lullaby (with Exit Sign)


EXCERPT from “Story”

Once I tried to bake bread in the dirt. It hurt
my knees and the old women laughed.

They pointed to the lights across the Dead Sea
and said Go beg like Moses, if you love God so much.

Their prayers were as light as saddle bells.
They made hot water gush from the rocks.

But Moses got his own church, a whole valley
of haze and everything else that was promised.

In the end he covered his face and split
himself into words. A few of them are still lying

on the ground. I pick them up and carry them
across the Jordan in my mouth. They knock

against my teeth and try to get out. They want
to go home. So I sing to them about the walls

of Jericho falling while the gates are held up
by tiny bones. I say Don’t worry,

you won’t be buried like that. I will wash you
with my tongue. I will give you back your names.

I will place you on a clean white page
where things that never happened can be true.