10th Annual Contest Results!
BWR is pleased to announce the winners and runners-up of our 10th Annual Contest in Prose, Poetry, and Nonfiction. Each winner will receive $1,000 and publication in issue 40.2 of BWR (forthcoming this spring), and for the first time ever each runner-up will receive $100.
Michael Mau was selected as the fiction winner for his story, “Little Bird.” Fiction judge Lily Hoang writes:
“Little Bird” is the kind of story that lurks, it creeps. It sets in long after the last period has been forgotten. While reading this story—and after—I kept returning to gendered expectations, especially for children, but this isn’t just another gender swapping story: because, cue it: enter the military industrial complex: enter brainwashing: enter the simple desire of a daughter not wanting to disappoint her father: enter rejection. Enter the violence of emerging sexualities and bullying. Enter the way violence is bred: through heredity. Because when all the terror is set aside, what remains is just a girl, trying to be good by her father’s standards, trying hard to impress. O little girl of realism: why are you just as frightening as a wicked old crone? O little girl of realism: you delight. O little girl of realism: always remain a little girl, even when you are grown. But you, too, must grow up, and this is only the beginning of monstrosity, the birth of insecurity.
Elise Winn was selected as the prose runner up for her story, “Brother and Sister.” Lily writes,
Unlike any Disney production, in “Brother and Sister,” it is not love or hate, not even the desire for power, that launches magic into freedom. Instead, it is simple disappointment. Disappointment eats at this family’s central nervous system, not only as catalyst for magic but also as a way of re-shaping family: we disappoint, constantly, and although it is his own mother who abandons him, rejects him, the brother returns to his sister, only to have his mother abandon him again, reject him. This cycle, we know, began before time and will keep on long after, and the sister will continue saving her brother—because, because. But it is the father who abandons first! Who’s to blame!?, but this is not a story about blame. It is a process of mourning, a hopeful song, the movement of magic, its tide and pull: let it lure you in, my pretty—and your little rabbit too.
Curtis Rogers was selected as the poetry winner for his poem “Of Plenty.” Poetry judge Richard Siken says:
All poems are flawed, and all winners are–and should be–suspect. Of all the poems I read for the contest, this one stuck with me the longest, made me uncomfortable with its elegance and inelegance. This is the poem I wanted to read to my friends. And even more: this is the poem I wanted to read to my enemies. This is vital, important work.
“Self-Portrait with Hawk & Armada” by Emily Skaja was selected as the runner-up. Richard says,
There are echoes of other voices here, and shared gestures from our contemporary way of singing through loss, but there are unique pleasures here, and unique complications. This is a poet to watch. I can’t wait to see more.
“Bigfoot, Bum Foot, Barbie: Strange But True at the Yahoo Freak Show” by Landon Houle was selected as the nonfiction winner. Nonfiction judge Kiese Laymon says:
Few essays are as brave conceptually and in form as they are in content. “Big Foot” was fearless in what it attempted to do and more than delivered after I’d read the last word. I most appreciate the way the essay invites us in to so many different chambers and takes us out of each before we really know what’s going on. By the end, I feel closer to myself, closer to the author, closer to writing and closer to humans.
And about our nonfiction runner-up”Mother Tongue” by Chelsey Clammer Kiese writes,
Like thousands of other contemporary essays, Mother Tongue is really exploring the language we’ve used to get us from one point to another. Unlike most of those essays, Mother Tongue wanders wonderfully into that terrifying intersection of history, complicity, identity and familial trauma. It’s one of the few essays I’ve read in a long time where every page surprised me and every paragraph made me want to read them again. It’s an incredible offering.
Congratulations to everyone who won!
We are also happy to announce the following finalists for each genre. Thank you all for submitting! This was a year full of amazing work.
Corey Van Landingham
Vi Khi Nao
by Alina Stefanescu
Helen Degen Cohen