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


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).

A New Generation

capstone-visitEvery spring, MSU Moorhead’s Introduction to Publishing class takes a field trip down to the Twin Cities to visit publishers, distributors, and other book-related companies for an inside look at the industry. But how are the prospects that those students to actually get a job in publishing right out of college? Slim to none.

Most publishers fall into one of a few categories: small independent publishers, university presses, the major New York trade publishers, and textbook or classroom publishers. Independent publishers, with a few Twin Cities exceptions, tend to be run by a very small, very dedicated staff. Often, that might be only the two or three people who started the publisher. Even if there are more staff members, chances are they are working for little to no pay, which eliminates the option of getting hired by them. University presses also rely on free labor in the form of undergraduate and graduate students at their parent university. They may have a few higher-up staff roles, but they are likely filled by professors at the university who can teach and work on the press.

On the larger publisher end, we of course have the New York publishers, or the “Big Five,” which control 37 percent of book sales. They are considered the Holy Grail for us lowly undergraduates, but without an Ivy League education or, more importantly, plenty of hands-on experience in the field, you’re unlikely to find a job there right away. Another big source of publishing is textbooks and sales to teachers and librarians. The non-trade children’s lit market and high school/college textbook markets are big business, even though they stray from our traditional idea of publishing. However, most textbooks are written by technical writers with some knowledge in the area who can then work with researchers and other professionals to write the text. For children’s books, the bar is a little lower. This might be one of the easiest ways to get into publishing, but as many undergraduate programs focus more on couplets than Captain Underpants, it can be hard to gain experience in the area right out of college.

So, what’s left? Many editors-in-training may take more of a writer’s route and enroll in a good creative writing MFA program. Others may choose to pound the pavement, working as baristas and waitresses and applying to every job, internship, and volunteer position they can. Another method to consider, however, is literary magazines. It seems that editors may have to copy writers no matter what, as many authors are published in paper magazines or online zines long before getting their first book contract. While literary magazines have some of the same staff problems as small publishers, there are also endless amounts of them looking for fresh new volunteers to replace those too worn-out or broke to continue.

Working at an indie bookstore can also be a great way to stay in touch with literary trends, touch and read lots of books while getting paid. It may not have a direct path to publishing, but it is valuable (paid!) experience nonetheless. Plus, as publishers like Milkweed Editions and even Amazon experiment with opening their own bookstores, who knows what the future will surprise us with? Editors can also look to distributors like New Rivers Press’ distributor Bookmobile, which was also visited on the field trip. Employees can see publishing first-hand as they move books through production, and some may even move on to be designers, e-publishers, or managers. Distributors work directly with publishers to help their binding and design dreams become a reality, so it is a great way to get to know more about publishers and see what people in the industry are up to.

This post is not meant to be a grim outlook for those, like myself, trying to find their way into a field they love so much. It is just meant to be realistic. Sure, I dream of jumping in the car on graduation day and driving to New York to knock on the door of HarperTeen, but I would probably end up lost somewhere around Connecticut with a handful of spare change and a bucket of disappointments. In today’s job market, many of us will have to put in years of groundwork to get where we want to end up. And that’s something we should prepare and plan for. So keep the dedication, read furiously, perfect that resume, gain experience however and whenever you can, and keep the day job. While we may be ready for publishing, it might not be ready for us just yet.