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Announcing the Winner and Finalists of the 2018 Nilsen Prize for a First Novel

Southeast Missouri State University Press is pleased to announce that Robert Long Foreman’s manuscript Weird Pig is the winner of the 2018 Nilsen Literary Prize. The prize includes $2,000 and publication of the winning manuscript by the University Press. Weird Pig will be published in October 2020.

Weird Pig is about Weird Pig, a pig who wants to do right. But doing right isn’t always easy. He drinks. He eats pork chops. He rides a skateboard. He gets his fellow farm animals murdered, and fathers an illegitimate son who has a messiah complex. When Weird Pig leaves the farm he calls home, he inspires a series of children’s books that help bring on the end of his little world—a farm where human and beast alike toil in the shadow of an ever-growing factory livestock complex. From farm to table and beyond, follow the misadventures of Weird Pig in this kaleidoscopic portrait of America, seen through the eyes of a crazed animal who insists on making himself at home there. 

Excerpts from Weird Pig, and stories featuring him, have appeared in ten magazines, including BarrelhouseThe Collagist, and Copper Nickel, where three of them won the magazine’s Editor’s Prize. One Weird Pig story was selected by Aimee Bender for inclusion in Best Small Fictions 2018.

Robert Long Foreman is the author of Among Other Things, a collection of essays, which was published in 2017 by Pleiades Press after winning the inaugural Robert C. Jones Prize for Short Prose. He has won a Pushcart Prize for fiction, and has published short stories and essays in such magazines as AgniCrazyhorseElectric Literature, and Kenyon Review Online. He has won contests at The Cincinnati Review,Willow SpringsAmerican Literary Review, and The Journal

Otherwise, the competition was fierce this year. We read a lot of great manuscripts, many not even represented on the list below. Here is a full list of finalists:


Weird Pig by Robert Long Foreman


Girl in the Moon by JJ Henderson
Mistakes by the Lake by Brian Petkash
Songs of Gold and Shadow: A Novel by Elizabeth Dalton
Solve for N by Leah McCormach


Four Dead Horses by KT Sparks
She Never Told Me About the Ocean by Elizabeth McKetta
Water, A Novel by Naguetalti Warren
Each of Us Angels by Shaylin Montgomery
The Lighting Artist: Or, The Unfortunate History of an Information Girl by Nicola Waldron

Announcing our 2018 Big Muddy Pushcart Nominees

Once again, we had a ton of great work to choose from, but our staff came together and decided we’d be nominating the following to send off to Pushcart this year:

“The Leisure Class” by Maureen Aitken (Fiction) (18.2)
“Nobody Promised Milk and Honey” by Ron A. Austin (Fiction) (18.2)
“The Saddest Man in the World” by Brandon Hobson (Fiction) (18.2)
“According to the OED, ‘Anima’ Is the Opposite of ‘Persona’” by Dylan Loring (Poem) (18.2)
“Building a New Chicago” by Michael VanCalbergh (Poem) (18.2)
“When I Walk” by Victoria Walls (Poem) (18.2)

Haesong Kwon’s The People’s Field Selected as Winner of the 2018 Cowles Poetry Prize

SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY PRESS is pleased to announce that Haesong Kwon’s manuscript The People’s Field has been selected by our final judge, Jenny Yang Cropp, as the winner of the 2018 Cowles Poetry Prize. Kwon’s book will be published in fall 2019. A full list of finalists and semi-finalists is below.

 With attention to the Japanese occupation, the Korean War and its aftermath, The People’s Field reflects on the sounds, ideas and histories of the Korean peninsula. Of her selection, Cropp writes, “Kwon’s manuscript contains a paradoxical experience of both movement and stillness, history and the eternal present. These poems, short and spare, carry the intensity of distillation but resist the epigrammatic as they show us a rich and complex landscape that asks for and earns reading after reading.”

Haesong Kwon is the author of the chapbook Many Have Fallen (Cutbank Books). His poems have appeared in New Orleans Review, Quarterly West, Mid-American Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Yalobusha Review, Louisville Review, Redivider and others. He lives in Shiprock, New Mexico and teaches at Diné College.

The Cowles Poetry Book Prize takes place annually, with submissions closing on April 1 each year. Southeast Missouri State University Press, founded in 2001, serves both as a publisher and as a working laboratory for students interested in learning the art and skills of literary publishing.


Inside Ball Lightning by Rainie Oet
Notes on Vanishing by Cammy Pedroja
Out of the Cosmos Factory by Tony Trigilio


Rare, Wondrous Things by Alyse Bensel
Thanksgiving Dinner in a Rich Zip Code by Stephanie Brown
Ten Thousand Volts by Richard Cecil
An Expectation of Broken Things by Reese Conner
The Dreams of Weapons by Melissa Ginsburg
Gadfly Apocrypha by Brad Johnson
A More Country by Claire McQuerry
Sharks vs. Selfies by Martin Ott
I Will Tell All Myself by Todd Osborne
Compass for Hands by Bret Shepard
Shorless by Enid Shomer
You Are Still Alive by William Stobb
Playing House on the Bones by Anna Sutton
The Inscrutable World by M. A. Vizsolyi
Guilt Ledger by Ross White
Local Talent by Jacob Wright

It was a pleasure reading everyone’s work!


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 into hope. Charged with urgency and emotion, Austin’s 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!

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