2019 Contest Results!

Oct 18, 2019News

BWR is pleased to announce the winners and runners-up of our 2019 Contests in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Flash. We are forever grateful to our inimitable judges: Rivers Solomon, Tommy Pico, Selah Saterstrom, and Vi Khi Nao. 

Naomi Day was selected as the fiction winner for the piece, “Body Snatcher.” Fiction judge Rivers Solomon writes: 

A haunting meditation on what it might be to live in a body one can reshape at will, Body Snatcher interrogates the violence of borders – not just between lands, but between bodies. It is perhaps trite to note when a story is about “identity,” but in a world of complex histories, of global movement and chaos, of the forever tussle between the individual and the community, identity and its myriad discontents as a nut we still haven’t cracked. Body Snatcher offers a nuanced take on how the politics of the body shape identities. 

Rosana Cruz was selected as the fiction runner-up for the piece, “What It Took.”  Rivers Solomon writes:

“What it Took” is – thankfully, blessedly, refreshingly – strange. Visceral and seething, this story contains all the ingredients of a forbidden spell, and reading it is like tucking into an ancient grimoire. The most affecting stories are often beautiful and vicious both, and “What it Took” craftily fuses the gorgeous and the repulsive, the divine and the profane. This is a story for wayward god-beings. 

Agata Brewer was selected as the nonfiction winner for the essay “Birds.” Nonfiction judge Selah Saterstrom writes:

If the ornithology textbook included chapters on resurrection and sadness (as felt through mother death tones) and was part cookbook (the absence we eat and eat), then Birds would be its remarkable introduction. Birds is an acute and moving piece written in the idiom of hunger and the loneliness, survival, suffering and love that light up its limits.

Sophie He was selected as the nonfiction runner-up for the essay, “Chinatownland.” Selah Saterstrom writes:

Corrective vision surgery takes on a whole new meaning in Chinatownland. The result is a cartography that includes our blindspots. In Chinatownland juxtaposition, one of disruption’s favorite tools, simultaneously blurs and focuses our vision so that we might finally see the full complexity of a place and its reinventions.

Katherine Indermaur was selected as the poetry winner for “Girl Descends Asunder.” Poetry judge Tommy Pico writes: 

This epic is inspired, vigorous, obsessive, and jerks around like a camera going in and out of focus or like proteins denaturing. It reminded me of Descent of Alette meets American Horror Story: Asylum & body horror. It sings to me of surveillance, perception, control, and uncertainty. I love how it moves, how its shards tinkle outwards, as if one person’s voice could also be a chorus.

Kamden Hilliard was selected as the poetry runner-up for “Goose Theory.” Tommy writes: 

“Goose Theory” did a lot in its densely packed self, notably a palpable balance of both joy and dread; a love and a playfulness of language that is all too aware of language’s history of reduction, destruction, and colonial vivisection. It takes the different play dough colors of modern language and squishes them all together in a statement on the nature of communication and I, for one, am here. for. it.

Aliza Ali Khan was selected as the flash winner for, “Hallow, Hollow.” Flash judge Vi Khi Nao writes: 

Stunning, perfect in its spectacular form, educational, richly-layered, densely composed, humorous (“n/a is our father, too, on school and medical forms”), tightly woven/edited story with possibly more to add, but nothing to spare. Acutely aware of its readers, the story has narrative depth and exquisiteness, compelling textual and contextual variety, and eye-catching, engaging language: “The hours Mama worked for our future, we spent working out our past. Starting with fragments about Baba, stitched together with eavesdrops and guesswork.” It’s a piece that demands both our sins and virtues and elevates family/lineage writing to a whole new (fancy) level!

Patrick Holian was selected as the flash runner-up for, “Please Show Me Neon, Arbitrating Winds.” Vi Khi Nao writes: 

Most excellent and sexy title. Not dormant, but ghostly, the story travels intimately through a lost quotidian deftness. There is an air of precise narrative authority hyphenated with matter-of-fact playful language that makes the reading experience smooth, expansive, and majestic. Even though the narrator is prescient, the readers get the sense that the unknown is just inches away, waiting to surprise, waiting for a ghost to become fog. In this way, the writer is acutely aware of their sentence structure, designed to make quiet things not disappear. And, to invite us into the page methodically with unflappable sangfroid. 


Congratulations to the winners!

We also want to congratulate the finalists in each genre, listed below. 


Flash finalists:

Elinam Agbo

Jason Lipeles

Angie Sijun Lou

Nima Omidi

Laura Paul

Wren Phelps

Jenniey Tallman

A. Zarif


Nonfiction finalists:

Su Cho

Megan Doney

Jason Lipeles

Lara Mimosa Montes

Cherise Morris

Amy Lee Scott

Cady Vishniac

Jessica Walker


Fiction finalists:

Latifa Ayad

Bridget Brewer

Sergio Infante

Micah Khater

Muriel Leung

Silvia Park

Sara Ramey

Jackie Sizemore


Poetry finalists:

Stine An

Sebastien Bernard

Marissa Davis

Patricia Hartland

syan jay

Monica Rico

Stella Yin-Yin Wong

Felicia Zamora