Southeast Missouri State University Press

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2023 Cowles Poetry Prize Winner

We’re happy to announce the winner and finalists of the 2023 Cowles Poetry Prize. We had a ton of fantastic entries, and our readers worked tirelessly to read all of your wonderful work and help us pick a list of finalists and, ultimately, our winner. Here are the results:


Shapeshifter by James K. Zimmerman

James K. Zimmerman is an award-winning, neurodivergent writer, frequently a Pushcart Prize nominee. His poetry appears in Chautauqua, december, Folio, Lumina, Nimrod, Pleiades, Rattle, Reed, Salt, andVallum, among many other publications, and is also featured on websites such as The Poetry Foundation, American Life in Poetry, and Vallum. He is the author of “Little Miracles” (Passager Books), “Family Cookout” (Comstock Press Books – winner of the Jessie Bryce Niles Prize), and “The Further Adventures of Zen Patriarch Dōgen” (The Poetry Box). He resides at the crepuscular edge between this universe and the one next door, often with one foot in each, and, in his spare time, cultivates roses, orchids, and paradoxical questions. He can be contacted at


Villain(era) by John Andrews

Vigil by Mary Ardery

What Can I Do For You Poems? by Jessica Barksdale

Negotiable Gods by Gaylord Brewer

That Night by Craig Cotter

The Sleeves of My Kimono by Saidah Kamaria

Interior Weather by Avren Keating

Old Testament New Jersey by Jessica de Koninck

Berry and the Bee by Sheila Dietz

Cruise Ship by Nino McQuown

Many Persons Faces Covered Over by Sage Ravenwood

Thinandflyingdress by Kymberly Taylor

Thank you all for your time and patience.

Winter Break Orders and Shipping

As we’re winding down for winter break, all orders placed after 12/16 will not ship until January.

Announcing the winner of the 2022 Nilsen Prize

We are excited to announce the winner of the 2022 Nilsen Prize. We received a record number of submissions, and it took us a while to read so much excellent work. We are very excited to announce the results. Without further ado, then:

Congratulations to our winner, Andrew Malan Milward, for his manuscript You Are Loved, which will be published in 2024.

Andrew Malan Milward was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and grew up in Lawrence, Kansas. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he is the author of the story collections I Was a Revolutionary and The Agriculture Hall of Fame, as well as a book of nonfiction called Jayhawker: On History, Home, and Basketball. His fiction has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award and appeared in many places, including Zoetrope, American Short Fiction, VQR, and The Southern Review, as well as Best New American Voices. Milward has received fellowships and awards from the Lannan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Corporation of Yaddo. He lives in Lexington, Kentucky, where he is Director of Creative Writing at the University of Kentucky.

We’d also like to acknowledge the fantastic manuscripts that filled out our shortlist, in alphabetical order:

Filling the Big Empty by Rhonda Browning White
In Search Of by Michele Ruby
Let the Night Be Dark by Melanie McCabe
Odessa by Jeremy Griffin
Play, With Knives by Jeanette Horn
The Registry of Forgotten Objects by Michael Harvey
Roan by Mathew Goldberg
Tear Here by Matthew Pitt
This Is What Always Happens by Maureen Traverse

Thank you again, everyone, for trusting us with your work. Submissions for the 2024 prize will open in the fall.

Winter Break Ordering and Shipping

As our semester winds down around here, we’ll have limited hours on campus. We’ll still be shipping orders placed between now and January 12 will ship very slowly!

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New Releases

This Smile Is Starting to Hurt

By Dylan Loring

Dylan Loring’s This Smile is Starting to Hurt feels like an unending costume party where everyone is dressed up like James Tate, Russell Edson, and Charles Simic. After a while, the line between real and surreal disappears. "

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You Are Loved

By Andrew Malan Milward

As a young man living in New Orleans just after the turn of the century, Dixon Still is trying to find himself. Thirty years later, as an older man living in San Francisco, Dixon has arrived at a clearer sense of self, but he still finds something missing in his otherwise happy life.

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Proud to Be: Writing By American Warriors, volume 12


The anthology Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors series showcases writing from military veterans and their families from across the nation, including writing about WWI and WWII, Vietnam, the Gulf Conflict, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

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The Last Innocent Year

By Kerry Jones

"Kerry Jones’s work opens our eyes anew. The subtle interplay among her characters is in stark contrast to the action those characters experience. This is life as we live it, often odd, sometimes funny, but always dramatic." —Perry Glasser, author of American Mayhem

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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.

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