Agricultural steppes in Asia
Agricultural steppes in Asia

Congratulations to Winners of’s 10th Annual Contest!

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We are pleased to announce the winners and finalists of the 10th Annual Contest in Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction.

Each winner is awarded a $500 prize, while each finalist is awarded $100. Both winners and finalists will be published in January 2020 on


Stacey BalkunStacey Balkun: “In the Forest,” “The Water, the Truth, the Water,” and “Grounded”

Judge Camille T. Dungy says:

Haunted landscapes and harassed bodies run and climb and camp and swim and sing through these poems. What’s been done to this land has been done to those who live here. Secrets and lies, miscalculations and grief: such are the fruits left for the poet to reap. Two of these poems are set in Piscataway, New Jersey, where, according to the poems, the legacy of industrial pollution can be found in the groundwater and soil. In lines that are riddled with visual gaps, drastic line endings, and striking syntax, the poet tells the stories of what might become of a body born in such a place. I am as interested in the formal and linguistic playfulness of these poems as I am in the deadly seriousness of their content. To be human, after all, is to seek beauty and joy, to reach for love and connection, even here, on this polluted and imperiled planet. Especially here, these poems insist.

The finalists in poetry are poem sets by H.K. Hummel and Lex Runciman.


Cara StoddardCara Stoddard: “Hysteresis”

Judge Alison Hawthorne Deming says:

I love the way this essay laces together reflection about a trip to Alaska to observe the disappearing glaciers with self-observation about an intimate relationship that also is melting away. The essay is astute in its attention language as an avenue into cultural and natural history, and beautifully precise in its slow, unfolding acceptance of uncertainty. How are we to weigh personal loss against the scale of loss with climate change? Through language the narrator learns to notice and love her surroundings and see them in multiple time scales. The lyric moment resonates with forest, bear track, rising seas, orca fin, and bittersweet memory. A beautiful and smart essay.

The finalists in nonfiction are “Catalan Calendar” by Sharon Dolin and “Sand” by Rachel Findlay.


Michael McGuireMichael McGuire: “The Night of the Day of the Dead”

Judge Tara Lynn Masih says:

I chose this evocative short story as the winner of’s fiction contest because of its many layers, which help to reveal a unique story of love and loss, death and extinction. The prose is melodic and intelligent, distant but empathic, and the plot encompasses many different ways in which we are all now living. Set in a small “Old Town” in Mexico, the villagers are struggling with multiple universal themes: loss of culture, loss of opportunity, loss of environment, loss of family members, and loss of self. Through Nadia—a masked, half-dead girl—we take a brief journey through celebration of the Day of the Dead, and wind up the richer for it. Read this story more than once. Each time you do so, you’ll gain more appreciation for what the writer accomplished and more insight into who we are as human beings and the challenges we all face.

The finalists in fiction are “Out Here, Like This” by Weldon Ryckman and “The Whale Watcher” by John Wood.


  • Poetry: Camille T. Dungy
    Camille T. Dungy, the award-winning author of Trophic Cascade and four other poetry collections, is the editor of Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry.
  • Nonfiction: Alison Hawthorne Deming
    Alison Hawthorne Deming is the author of four nonfiction books, most recently Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit, and five poetry books, as well as a recent Guggenheim Fellow in Nonfiction and Regents’ Professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Arizona.
  • Fiction: Tara Lynn Masih
    Tara Lynn Masih’s publications include The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prizewinning Essays, and the award-winning novel My Real Name Is Hanna–and she founded the Best Small Fictions series in 2015.

Next Contest

We will begin accepting submissions for the 11th Annual Contest in Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction in January 2020. There will be no theme for the 2020 contest.

For additional information, view the contest guidelines or contact us.

Header photo courtesy Pexels. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.