2022 Contest Results!

Dec 2, 2022News



BWR is pleased to announce the winners and runners-up of our 2022 Contests in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Flash. We are forever grateful to our inimitable judges: Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Diane Seuss, Kendra Allen, & Angie Sijun Lou.

Dennis Mugaa was selected as the fiction winner for “Theatre Masks.” Fiction judge Maurice Carlos Ruffin writes:

“Theater Masks asks questions that only great fiction can: to what ends are we willing to go for our greatest desires? Rife with longing and conflict on every page, the author weaves a tale of international students each suffering from a particular lack of love. These voids propel the story to its tragic but all-too-real end. Readers will remember this group of friends long after reading.”

Lauren Hohle was selected as the fiction runner-up for “Mother Road.” Maurice Carlos Ruffin writes:

“Mother Road is an aching, lyrical exploration of the expectations of motherhood and womanhood played out succinctly but spanning several generations. This expertly composed story suggests that despite advances in gender equality women are still dealing with the psychological fallout of society expectations.”

Gwen Niekamp was selected as the nonfiction winner for “I Google My Assailant.” Nonfiction judge Kendra Allen writes:

“The brilliance of this essay is that it’s found a way to showcase modern technology while simultaneously documenting a history it hurts and heals to relate to.”


Catina Bacote was selected as the nonfiction runner-up for “My Brother Speaks: ‘That’s the Way We’re Gonna Survive.’” Kendra Allen writes:

“All my senses were stimulated reading this essay that’s also a love story between siblings; showing what it means to see and be in community with a bloodline.”

Corey Van Landingham was selected as the poetry winner for “Annual Report; or, The Achievements of a Junior Colleague.” Poetry judge Diane Seuss writes: 

“I love that the writer encased the poem in the form of an annual report, thus building a unique hybrid, a sort of hermit crab essay teetering into poetry. Hybridized as well is the poem’s tone: tragicomic. Funny/sad. Likewise, self-loathing and self-rescuing. Irony born of despair, and despair born of irony. The details are of the workspace of academia, but the impact is more generalizable—the soul crushing nature of work in late capitalist America, backlit by a global pandemic. The struggle to stay human. Embodied. Mindful of one’s mind. The language here is impeccable: “I am saccharine, too modest, a nice face to look at in meetings, a flyover state, an active listener, trembling crescendo, turning my sentences up, always game.” “Dog wheeling its hindlegs, trumpet flower climbing the streetlamp, neighbor’s compost pile spilling into our driveway, squirrels at dawn…Models of productivity.” Somehow, through the artifice of profession and professional pretense, through the artifice of a form born of ancient hierarchies, glimpses of a real human soul break through.”

David Ehmcke was selected as the poetry runner-up for “Ars Poetica :: Worm Music.” Diane Seuss writes:

“I am so moved by the insistent music of this ars poetica. It does not simply express a preference for music in language, but toggles it to the speaker’s very survival, a counterpoint to grief. “There was no way to say what grief could do // to me once Daniel left and Liza died / and all I did was stew // my worry, fury-like, as my mind / was curried by the sublime ladle // that I now call Time.” Such movement. Such song. The poem constructs music as a worm in the mind, at one point calling it “this disease of song sung / through me—a refrain that never dies—,” but ultimately the lyric disease is a saving grace.”

Engram Wilkinson was selected as the flash winner for “Occipital.” Flash judge Angie Sijun Lou writes:

“I’m stunned by the different ways this piece disrupts itself while maintaining its fluidity. From the conference table to the seizure, from the dachshund to its eyes, the scale of the story dilates in specificity while also magnifying in ecstasy. I am left thinking about the silent ways we are seized, moments when the sublime interrupts our way of being. It evokes the feeling of becoming guests inside our own bodies, a site of someone else’s witness.”

Kami Enzie was selected as the flash runner-up for “from River of Love: “Like a morgue of oranges…”.” Angie Sijun Lou writes:

“I love the sonic quality of this piece, the pure sensation of its language as a purification ritual. The piece defamiliarizes a familiar scene by being attentive to the banality of beauty, making the kitchen or highway into mystical locations I’ve never been to before. The use of ‘you’ and ‘I’ in this piece creates an immediate intimacy, an intimacy that grows from the mold spores of a ruin.”


Congratulations to the winners!

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


Fiction finalists:

Cindy Juyoung Ok

Lizzie Derksen

Aureleo Sans

Virginia Marshall

Malia Márquez

Michael Carlson

Stella Corso


Nonfiction finalists:

Chiemeziem Everest Udochukwu

BreAnna Bivens

Nic Nusbaumer


Poetry finalists:

Jacob Griffin Hall

Nome Emeka Patrick

Elias Udo-Ochi

Perla Kantarjian

Lory Bedikian

M. Avery Robinson

Kathryn Hargett-Hsu

Keith Wilson

Nora Hikari

Miguel Martin Perez

Em Palughi

Nicole Arocho Hernández

Emily Pinkerton

Grace H. Zhou

Justin Groppuso-Cook

Linette Marie Allen

L. S. Klatt

Xinyue Huang


Flash finalists:

Katherine Cart

Si-Min Chong

Agnes Hanying Ong

JJ Peña

Cedric Tillman

Rodrigo Toscano

Amy Wang

Xueyi Zhou