We are pleased to announce the winners and finalists of the Terrain.org 13th Annual Contest in Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction.
Each winner is awarded a $1,000 prize, while each finalist is awarded $200. Winners and finalists will be published beginning in February in Terrain.org, and the winners will participate in the March 2022 Terrain.org online reading with a contest judge.
Maura High for “Field Notes” and “Old House” Maura High, originally from Wales, now lives and works in North Carolina. She has worked in a cigarette factory, as a school teacher, college teacher, community volunteer, and editor, but her poetry owes most to her experience working in conservation and as a wildland firefighter. She collaborates with visual artists on shows and publications, notably Stone, Water, Time with Lyric Kinard. Her chapbook The Garden of Persuasions won the Jacar Press chapbook prize, and she is this year’s winner of the William Matthews Poetry Prize.
Judge Sean Hill says:
What draws me to these poems is the noticing, the attentiveness and the appreciation of perspectives. In “Field Notes”, an abecedarian about an “abandoned field” in Orange County, North Carolina, there is such an abundance noted—so many plants and their relationships to place and time and other species including humans. I’m engaged by the way the poet plays with the form of the reference book and the self-referential space that play creates in the poem. Here I’m thinking of the economic way “Field Notes” tussles with the idea and reality of invasive species with “exotics: migrants, stowaways and hitchhikers, too much at home; see invasives.” And I dig the way it acknowledges the place of natives and their time in a place with language like “ferns: rise and unfurl like our letter f, old as fossils, here before letters and fiddles and bows.” A different understanding of relationships and seeing possibilities is reached in “Old House”. These poems feel hopeful, and I’m grateful for them.
The finalists in poetry are poem sets by Randal Dills, Stacey Forbes, Kevin Miller, and Ryan Vine.
Yelizaveta P. Renfro for “Loon Boy”
Yelizaveta P. Renfro is the author of a collection of essays, Xylotheque, and a collection of short stories, A Catalogue of Everything in the World. Her work has appeared in North American Review, Creative Nonfiction, Orion, Colorado Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Witness, Reader’s Digest, and elsewhere. She’s served as artist-in-residence at Denali National Park and Preserve, Isle Royale National Park, and Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
Judge Janisse Ray says:
One small incident, that of seeing a family of loons at evening on Isle Royale, inspires this author to gather many threads and weave them together in a deftly written essay that on the surface is about loons, but more deeply about two histories, Russian and American. A tiny fear, that loon parents will not return to a chick, becomes the point for many counterpoints, many ways that we fling ourselves into voids, including space, how we are almost lost, how we are saved. The author’s epiphany is small, a personal connection to a bird via history, but one that is made monumental and magical by layers of connections. One of these layers is the tension of enemies—Do the Russians reach space first or do the Americans? Another layer is a rumination on parenthood, love and loss, and the changes that come to all of us, inevitably, and here the author skirts the edge of danger without being heavy-handed. Too, this lovely essay becomes a movement between folk traditions and science, as well as an exploration of language as the author plies the limitations of words and the possibilities of words. Fairytale-like in its execution, metaphorically subtle, this work is about an encounter with a bird that connects two spheres of life and the choices that bring us into greater intimacy with the wild world. Generous and powerful, “Loon Boy” will stay with you and lend to your own encounters a mythic pulse.
The finalists in nonfiction are “Halophilia” by Hanna Saltzman, “In the Rut” by Kathryn Wilder, and “Mist Nets” by Kathryn Winograd.
Anna Farro Henderson for “Chiara, Chiara” Anna Farro Henderson (previously published under E.A. Farro) has a book of essays forthcoming in 2024 about being a climate scientist and going to work in politics. She teaches creative writing at The Loft Literary Center and lives near the Mississippi River with her family in Minnesota.
Judge Kali Fajardo-Anstine says:
“Chiara, Chiara” is a marvelously voice-driven short story about self discovery, early relationships, and the highs and lows of being a young adult who is fully present in the wilderness of life. Timeless in its humor and wit, this deeply observational short story simultaneously feels urgent and new. The narrator says it best herself: “It reminds me of coming up from the bottom of a pool and breaking through the surface of the water.” What a stunning voice and story. I miss spending time with the narrator already.
The finalists in fiction are “Eva” by Alan Sincic and “Not-Dreams, Not-Hallucinations” by Cassandra Verhaegen.
Poetry: Sean Hill Sean Hill is the author of Dangerous Goods, awarded the Minnesota Book Award in Poetry, and Blood Ties & Brown Liquor, named one of the Ten Books All Georgians Should Read in 2015 by the Georgia Center for the Book. His numerous awards include fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation, Stanford University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Hill’s poems and essays have appeared in Callaloo, Harvard Review, New England Review, Orion, Oxford American, Poetry, Terrain.org, Tin House, and numerous other journals, and in nearly two dozen anthologies including Black Nature and Villanelles. He lives in Montana with his family and is currently a visiting professor of creative writing at the University of Montana.
Nonfiction: Janisse Ray Janisse Ray is an American writer who explores the borderland of nature and culture. She has won an American Book Award, Pushcart Prize, Southern Bookseller Award, Southern Environmental Law Center Writing Award, Nautilus Award, and Eisenberg Award, among others; and has has been inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. Her first book, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, was a New York Times Notable Book. Her eighth book, Wild Spectacle: Seeking Wonders in a World Beyond Humans, was released in October 2021, with the paperback release set for August 2022. She lives and works inland from Savannah, Georgia.
Fiction: Kali Fajardo-Anstine Kali Fajardo-Anstine is the author of the novel Woman of Light and the story collection Sabrina & Corina, a finalist for the National Book Award, the PEN/Bingham Prize, The Story Prize, and winner of an American Book Award. She is the 2021 recipient of the Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and is the 2022/2023 Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at Texas State University.
We will begin accepting submissions for the 14th Annual Contest in Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction on May 1, 2023. The submission deadline is September 4, 2023 (Labor Day in the U.S.). Judges will be announced in April.