We’re thrilled to announce the winner and finalists for the 2021 Cowles Poetry Prize. Our dedicated readers and interns spent countless hours reading many (so many!) fantastic manuscripts. The competition was fierce, and we passed along twenty manuscripts to our final judge, Luiza Flynn-Goodlett, who narrowed down the list to a top five, from which she selected this year’s winner. We are so incredibly grateful you all trust us with your vital, magnificent work. And of course, we’re already accepting submissions for the 2022 contest. Without further ado, then, our winner, shortlist, and longlist:
Winner: Gold Hill Family Audio by Corrie Lynn White
Corrie Lynn White’s poetry has appeared in Oxford American, New Ohio Review, Best New Poets, Mid American Review, and Mississippi Review, among other places. Originally from Gold Hill, North Carolina, she holds a BA from UNC Chapel Hill and an MFA from UNC Greensboro. She currently lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she works as a journalist and was named the 2021 Tennessee Arts Commission Fellow in Poetry. Gold Hill Family Audio will be published in fall, 2022!
bad prayer by Katie Berta
BLACK METAMORPHOSIS by Shanta Lee Gander
Dear Daughter, by Ellen Kombiyil
Eveningful by Jennifer Whalen
Out of Nowhere: Poems by Susan Comninos
star vehicle (the year i moved to st. louis) by Charlotte Covey
Happy Everything by Caitlin Cowan
A Suit of Paper Feathers by Nate Duke
Cry Perfume by Sadie Dupuis
Whipsaw by Suzanne Frischkorn
Swan Hammer: An Instructor’s Guide to Mirrors by Maggie Graber
No Spare People by Erin Hoover
This Smile is Starting to Hurt by Dylan Loring
History Lesson by Todd Osborne
Steady, Girl by Leona Sevick
Black Don’t Crack by Valerie Smith
On Main Street by Alex Turissini
Notes on Silence and Noise by Suzanne Wise
pH of Au by Vanessa Couto Johnson
Once again, thank you all for trusting us with your work! It’s truly an honor.
We are excited to announce the winner and finalists of the 2020 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 2021 contest is open at: https://smsupress.submittable.com/submit/179432/dorothy-and-wedel-nilsen-literary-prize-for-a-first-novel-2021
Winner: Juan Eugenio Ramirez – The Man with Wolves for Hands
Though born in Washington state, Juan Eugenio Ramirez spent most of his formative years in Florida. Having taught both middle school and high school these past fifteen years, Juan holds an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and a BA from Florida State University. His work has appeared in The Carolina Quarterly, Armchair/Shotgun, and Madcap Review. He currently teaches high school English at St. Francis School, an independent, progressive education school in Louisville, Kentucky.
Michael Chaney – The Cartoonal and You
Kevin Clouther – Maximum Speed
Diane Josefowicz – Easy Journeys to Other Planets
Ben Miller – Meanwhile in the Dronx
Thomas Pyun – The Beginning of Our End
Jessica Savitz – Television in the Mountains
Evelyn Somers – Katybomb, Katybomb
Derek Updegraff – Whole
Rebecca Wurtz – The Mapmaker’s Body
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
Sentence by Rebecca Schumejda
The Water Bear by Margaret Young
Portrait Miniatures by James K. Zimmerman
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: https://smsupress.submittable.com/submit/145301/dorothy-and-wedel-nilsen-literary-prize-for-a-first-novel-2020
Elizabeth Engelman – The Way of the Saints
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 Be–Everything! Brothers
A somewhat autobiographical collection of poetry focuses on the illnesses and deaths of the poet’s parents during her teen years, focusing on palliative care and literal plastics.
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.
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.
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.