Southeast Missouri State University Press

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Announcing the 2017 Nilsen Prize for a First Novel Winner and Finalists

Southeast Missouri State University Press is thrilled to announce the winner and finalists of our Nilsen Prize for a First Novel. This was the first year that the contest was held through Submittable, and we found that it really sped up the process. If it seems like we’re announcing the winner earlier than usual, that has a lot to do with it, but much of the credit for that goes to our fantastic interns and Graduate Assistants who worked hard all fall and the first month and a half of spring semester to read through the many, many wonderful manuscripts we received, to help pick our finalists and winner. Without further ado, then, here are the results:


Avery Colt is a Snake, A Thief, A Liar by Ron Austin

Austin’s semi-autobiographical, linked story collection follows the misadventures of Avery Colt as he  struggles to survive in North St. Louis alongside his family. Learning the best way to slaughter a goat, rebuilding his family’s corner market, and reckoning the weight of a revolver are a few of the challenges Avery faces. As he matures through each page, Avery takes control of his circumstances and attempts dangerous feats of alchemy. By confronting his own fears and limitations, he seeks to transform cruelty into compassion, rind into fruit, despair intohope. Charged with urgency and emotion, Austin’s raw prose faithfully renders a community determined to overcome crisis with strength, dark humor, and plenty of heart. The book will be published in Fall 2019.

Stories from the collection have been published in Black Warrior Review, Natural Bridge, Draft Horse, Gulf Stream Literary Magazine, december, The Masters Review, Ninth Letter, Cog, Tahoma Literary Review, and Story Quarterly.


Ron A. Austin holds a MFA from the University of Missouri–St. Louis, has served as an editor for december and River Styx, and is a 2016 Regional Arts Commission Fellow. He has taught creative writing at the Pierre Laclede Honors College. He, his partner Jennie, and son Elijah live in St. Louis with a whippet named Carmen.


We Eat This Gold by Chris Drew
Weird Pig
by Robert Long Foreman
A Sensual Guide to Housekeeping by Jeff Hayden
The Last Innocent Year: Stories by Kerry Jones
Someday Everything Will All Make Sense by Carol LaHines
Boys and Girls by Jane McDermott

Thank you all for your entries. Next year’s contest is open as of now. We can’t wait to read what you send!

Announcing the Winners of Big Muddy’s Might River Short Story Contest and the Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Contest

We are excited to announce the winners of Big Muddy’s annual Mighty River Short Story Contest and the Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Contest. See the winners and finalists below!

Mighty River Short Story Contest


“Halloween, 2001” by Giovanna Varela

Giovanna Varela’s work is severely influenced by her hometown of Central Florida. She is pursuing an MFA in creative writing at The New School, and an MFA in film production at Emerson College. Her pilot script, “Flamingo City,” won 2nd place in Nevada International Film Festival’s 2017 TV screenplay competition. Her flash fiction has been published in Folio, Literary Juice, Rock & Sling, and the Owen Wister Review, and is forthcoming in Southern Indiana Review and Moon City Review


“Nature Programs” by Richard Bartel
“Lunar Hymns” by Ryan Boyle
“Love Me Through a Hurricane” by Amina Gautier
“Many Other Ways to Die” by Lisa McKenzie

Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Contest


“Story, Baby” by Kate Simonian

Kate Osana Simonian is an Armenian-Australian writer of fiction and essays. She attends the English PhD program at Texas Tech as a Presidential Fellow. In 2017, she received the Nelson Algren Award and a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to the Sewanee Writers Conference. Her work has been published by, or is forthcoming in, Ninth Letter, The Kenyon Review Online, The Chicago Tribune, and The Best Australian Stories.


“Lies” by Andi Boyd
“Hearts & Spades” by Ryan Boyle
“What a Drag it is Getting Old (M. Jagger) by Yvonne Fein
“El Pobrecito on Catolico Street” by Mario Padilla

Congratulations to the winners and finalists!

Next year’s contests are open for submissions. For more information, see our events and contests page.


Avalialble Now: Writing By American Warriors, Volume 6

Proud to Be: Writing By American Warriors, vol. 6 will be out soon and we have a pre-order page up for it. Have a look for a list of contest winners and included pieces:

Proud to Be: Writing By American Warriors, Volume 6

2017 Big Muddy Pushcart Prize Nominees

Big Muddy would like to congratulate our Pushcart Prize nominees for 2017, chosen from issues 17.1 and 17.2 (the latter of which will be back from the printers any day now!)

Here are the nominees:

“Hangman’s Game” by Sam Martone (17.2)
“One Trick Pony” by J. Bowers (17.2)
“Missouri is a Ghost Shaped Thing” by John Dorsey (17.2)
“Speaking in Rivers” by Keith Donnell Jr. (17.1)
“Midway” by Jessica Fokken (17.1)
“older” by Charlotte Covey (17.1)

Best of luck to all of you!

Also, sheesh, was it hard to narrow the list down to just six! Thanks for all the great reading you keep sending our way. We look forward to all of the submissions to come!

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New Releases

Proud to Be: Writing By American Warriors, Volume 6

By Edited by James Brubaker

Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Volume 5 presents essays, fiction, poetry, interviews, and photography by military-service personnel, veterans, and their families.

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My Life With Faulkner and Brodsky

By Robert Hamblin

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Bound for the Midwest

By Joni M. Hand

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Pie Man

By John Surowiecki

2015 Nilsen Prize Winner

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Featured Author

Brad Aaron Modlin

Everyone at This Party Has Two Names

Brad Aaron Modlin earned his MFA from Bowling Green State and his PhD from Ohio University. His poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in Denver Quarterly, The Florida Review, Indiana Review, DIAGRAMRiver TeethFourth Genre, and others.  Everyone at This Party has Two Names is the winner of the Cowles Poetry Book Prize.

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