News and Events

Announcing the Winner of the 2020 Cowles Poetry Prize

We are excited to announce the winner and finalists of our 2020 Cowles Poetry Book Prize. The winning book will be published, and the winning poet will receive $2,000. We saw so many amazing manuscripts this year, and it was difficult to narrow down a list to send to our final judge, Emma Bolden. Thank you all for your interest in this contest! Without further ado, then, here is the winner, and then the finalists:

Winner: Hospice Plastics by Rachel Hinton

Originally from Vermont, Rachel Hinton holds an MFA in poetry from the University of California, Irvine, and a BA from Kenyon College. Her poems have appeared in The Boiler, Cimarron Review, the Denver Quarterly, SOFTBLOW, the Tahoma Literary Review, and other journals. She has previously taught courses at DePaul University, and currently works as an editor and content development manager in Chicago. Of Hinton’s manuscript, final judge Emma Bolden writes “This book absolutely hums and it’s so powerful, every line of it, and the way the author uses language astounds and amazes me.”


Thief by Jennifer Miller
Thunderhead by Emily Cole
Eveningful by Jennifer Whalen
Tell This to the Universe by Katie Prince


Bad Prayer by Katie Berta
Hands Pull You Apart by Emily Jaeger
Ode to the Earth in Translation
by George Looney
This Smile Is Starting to Hurt
by Dylan Loring
“Every Slow Thing” by Daniel Lusk
Eject City by Jason Morphew
Night Swimming by Liz Robbins
by Rebecca Schumejda
The Water Bear by Margaret Young
Portrait Miniatures by James K. Zimmerman

Announcing the Winner of the 2019 Nilsen Prize

We are excited to announce the winner and finalists of the 2019 Nilsen Prize for a First Novel. The winning manuscript will be published, and the author will receive $2,000. Thank you to everyone who entered! It was an honor and a pleasure to read your words. The 2020 contest is open (at a lower price!) at:


Elizabeth Engelman – The Way of the Saints

Elizabeth Engelman is a recipient of the Marianne Russo Award and a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar Grant to Ireland. She was a 2019 top-ten finalist for the University of New Orleans Publishing Lab Prize, and her essays have appeared in The New York Times and Endeavor Magazine. She holds an MFA from the University of Tampa, an M.A. in Poetry from Lancaster University, and a B.A. from Carson-Newman University. Her poems have been published in Yale’s literary & art journal LETTERS, as well as the Riverside Center’s Anthology of Poetry. She lives with her family in St. Augustine, Florida, where she works at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. 

“The Way of the Saints is a multi-generational, historical collection of short stories, based on the author’s family and her personal experiences as the daughter of a Santeria priestess. The linked stories in the collection tell of three generations of Puerto Rican women: Paula, Isabel, and Esther as they navigate Puerto Rico’s Independence movement of the 1930’s, life in the 1950’s tenements of New York, and the opulence of 1980’s Westchester.”


Polly Buckingham – Long White Robe
Kevin Frey – A Walking Tour of Antananarivo with the Ghost of Jean-Joseph

Jeremy Griffin – Odessa
Kate McIntyre – Mad Prairie
Matthew Pitt – The BeEverything! Brothers

Southeast Missouri State University Press: SLOW ORDER FULFILLMENT


Just a quick note to let you know that, while campus is slowly reopening, we’ll still be slower to ship orders than usual over the summer. You’re welcome to continue ordering from us, and please know that we’ll be fulfilling them as quickly as we can, but we won’t be on campus quite as much for the time being.

We appreciate your understanding at this time and we’ll see you on the flipside. Until then, be safe and keep social distancing.


James Brubaker

Big Muddy Announces Winner and Finalists of Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Prize

We are excited to announce the winner and finalists for the Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Contest. The winner will be published in the upcoming issue of Big Muddy, and will receive $500. Picking a winner this year was quite difficult due to the many, many, many excellent stories we received. 

This year’s winner is:

“I Haven’t Forgotten You” by Leslie Blanco

Leslie Blanco’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, PANK, Calyx, finemediumandbroad, The Coachella Review, and TransAtlanticPanorama, among others. Her story “Cuba Si, Yanqui No” won an Honorable Mention from Glimmer Train‘s Short Story Award for New Writers in 2017. “The Lion” was named “First Runner Up” in Los Angeles Review‘s Literary Awards Short Fiction category in 2016, and was a semi-finalist for American Short Fiction‘s Short(er) Fiction Contest in 2015. She is the recent and very grateful recipient of a Vermont Studio Center fellowship, a Hedgebrook fellowship and a Rona Jaffe fellowship. She is the proud holder of an MFA from The Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She loves travel, the diverse and universal feast of spiritual possibility, and speaking to children through invented characters born when said children press her belly button. She lives in Southern California with triplet daughters, two dogs and one husband.

And this year’s finalists were:

“Shades of Tippi Hedren Headed For a Phone Booth” by Pamela Balluck
“Eli” by Elizabeth Enochs
“Bitten” by Barney Haney
“On the Fly” by Daryl Scroggins

Now, this is usually the part where I’d encourage everyone to submit again for this year’s contest. Unfortunately, we won’t be running the contest in 2020. Reading contest submissions on top of non-contest submissions, and keeping up with other work for Big Muddy and Southeast Missouri State University Press is…a lot. This isn’t a financial decision at all, as these contests pay for themselves. Once we’ve had a bit of a breather, the contest will likely come back, but for the time being, we need a break! Thank you all for sharing your wonderful words with us, and I hope to read more from you all in the future.


The Big Muddy Editorial Team

Read All News

New Releases

Black Bear Creek: Stories

By Joshua Cross

Joshua Cross's debut story collection, set in the mining town of Black Bear Creek, where characters struggle to survive against rampant poverty while their drinking water is poisoned and the mountains around them are stripped away.

Read More

Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Volume 9

By James Brubaker, Editor

The volume also sponsored a veterans’ writing competition. The winners and finalists are spotlighted in the front of the book.

The anthology is the eighth in an annual series published by Southeast Missouri State University Press in cooperation with the Missouri Humanities Council’s Veterans Projects. See submissions guidelines here.

Read More

Look Alive

By Luiza Flynn-Goodlett

"If you let it, Look Alive can be the guardian inoculation that pierces you with a little taste of the big grief and the big joy so you can survive them when they come." - Alicia Mountain, author of High Ground Coward

Read More

Faulkner and García Márquez

By Christopher Rieger and Andrew B. Leiter

The Faulkner and García Márquez Conference was hosted by the Center for Faulkner Studies October 11-13, 2018, on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Read More

Featured Author

Ron A. Austin

Avery Colt Is a Snake, a Thief, a Liar

Ron A. Austin’s short stories have been placed in Pleiades, Story Quarterly, Ninth Letter, Black Warrior Review, and other journals. Avery Colt Is a Snake, a Thief, a Liar, his first collection of linked stories, won the 2017 Nilsen Prize. Austin’s work has garnered a 2016 Regional Arts Commission Fellowship and a special mention in the 2015 Pushcart Prize Anthology. He, his partner Jennie, and son Elijah live in St. Louis.

More about Avery Colt Is a Snake, a Thief, a Liar|