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We Have Winners! Literary Awards 2018

Festival Staff / January 30, 2018

December 27, 2017

POETRY (judged by Mary Jo Bang)

1st place: Whitney Kerutis
The Auctioneer’s Daughter and other poems
Boulder, CO

Whitney is an MFA candidate at The University Of Colorado Boulder where she works on several projects including Timber Journal, Subito Press and Letter Machine Editions. Her work can be seen in journals such as Anamesa Journal, WINDOW Journal and The Thought Erotic.

Judge: “The titles of these poems — The Auctioneer’s Daughter, Hell March, Body Room — draw the reader in and create immediate suspense. The poems themselves skirt explanation but instead act as echo chambers where someone is speaking out of a silence, into a silence. The poems invite the reader to tease apart the echoes as a way of entering the speaker’s state of mind.”

2nd place: Emily Van Kley
Houseboat and other poems
Olympia, WA

Emily's work has received the Loraine Williams Prize, the Iowa Review Award, and the Florida Review Editor's Award. Her collection, The Cold and the Rust, was named winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize and is forthcoming from Persea Press. She has published poetry in a wide range of journals and anthologies, including Prairie Schooner, The Mississippi Review, Best New Poets and Best American Poetry among others.

Judge: “These profoundly thoughtful poems never reductively state their claims but instead create Emily-Dickinson-like slanted truths that are carefully woven into their sounds and rhythms and subtle associative leaps. Here, as in Dickinson, it’s the poem’s prosodic elements where ‘slantness’ works its subtle magic and fosters a mysterious empathic bond between the speaker and the reader.”

3rd place: Heidi Johannesen Poon
Chosen and other poems
Charlottesville, VA

Heidi has published a Chapbook with the Poetry Society of America. She has an MFA from Iowa and fellowships from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, MacDowell, Iowa, Brown, Rona Jaffe (Breadloaf) and Carlow University (Patricia Dobler Award).

Judge: “There is a sly daring to these very spare poems. They speak to the sense of estrangement that occurs when one stands at a remove from the world and looks on from a distance. From that ‘outsider’ position, everything is tenuous, excitable (like atoms), and of course more than a bit dangerous.”

NONFICTION (judged by Ron Hogan)

1st place: Saloma Miller Furlong
Ponce Dee Day Leon
Harrisonburg, VA

Saloma has published two books: "Why I Left the Amish: A Memoir" (Michigan State University Press, 2011), a finalist for the 2011 Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award, and "Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman’s Ties to Two Worlds" (Herald Press, 2014). She has appeared in two PBS documentaries, The Amish and The Amish: Shunned that aired on American Experience. In 1997, her short story Sarah's Courtship was published in Calyx: A Journal of Art and Literature by Woman.

Judge: “This digs into a moment and holds tight. A controlled narrative with a sharply etched perspective, it puts us in this young girl’s life at a critical turning point.”

2nd place: David J. Kennedy
Forever Gnawing at My Chains
New York

David graduated from Harvard College, where he was a staff writer, editor, and cook at The Harvard Lampoon. At Harvard, he became the first American to win both the national and international parliamentary debate championships. He received his law degree from Yale Law School, where he was an executive editor of The Yale Law Journal. He clerked for two federal judges, the Hon. Kimba M. Wood of the Southern District of New York and the Hon. Wilfred Feinberg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. For the past 17 years, he has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney specializing in civil rights work in the Southern District of New York, under, among others, Mary Jo White, James Comey, and Preet Bharara. He is also an adjunct professor at NYU Law School.

Judge: “A lively recreation of the inner workings of post-Civil War Washington — the conversations that take place outside the corridors of government that shape a nation’s path. Intriguing AND funny, this nonfiction piece reads with the urgent momentum of a novel."

3rd place: Kirsten Voris
With Vampires, There Were Rules
Tucson, AZ

A former poet then music critic then Ottoman scholar, Kirsten Voris enjoys touring all of these aspirational truck stops via creative nonfiction. Her writing has appeared in Hippocampus, Superstition Review, and Knickknackery. She has performed at Odyssey Tucson and her essay Zamzam will appear in the forthcoming Expat Sofra: Recipes of Foreign Life in Turkey. She is a science editor who used to live in Ankara, Turkey.

Judge: “This is a precisely calibrated glimpse inside a young girl’s mind as she paces uncomfortably at the brink of womanhood. It’s a short piece, but that means there’s not a wasted breath.”

FICTION (judged by Kevin Canty)

1st place: Sarah Harris Wallman
Birth Stories
New Haven, CT

In 2013, Sarah was awarded Prada's international fiction prize as well as the grand prize from Dogwood Journal. Her stories have appeared in places like Kelly Link's zine LCRW and the app Great Jones Street. She has an MFA.

Judge: “It’s sharply observed and very well-written but what drew me to this story was its unusual narration. This felt almost like a first-person-plural, a story in which the real protagonist was a group of women and not a single consciousness. Also, I loved this story’s open heart. It’s not at all afraid to engage the emotions.”

2nd place: David Philip Mullins
The Brightest Place in the World
Omaha, NE

David is the author of Greetings from Below: Stories, which won both the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and the International Walter Scott Prize for Short Stories. He’s a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and his fiction has appeared in The Yale Review, The Massachusetts Review, New England Review, and elsewhere. He received the Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame, the Dorothy and Granville Hicks Residency in Literature from Yaddo, an Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature from the Nebraska Arts Council, and a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches in the MFA program in creative writing at Creighton University.

Judge: “This story moves skillfully between several characters to tell a story of a larger disaster diffracted through individual lives, felt through individual hearts.”

3rd place: Kim Taylor Blakemore
The Rabbit Thief
Portland, OR

Kim is the author of the novels Bowery Girl, an NYPL Best Reads for Teens; and Cissy Funk, a WILLA award-winner for Best YA Novel. She is also the author of two interactive historical romances, "The Very Thought of You" and "It Don’t Mean a Thing." She teaches Craft of Fiction and Historical Fiction workshops with PDXWriters.

Judge: “This, excerpt from a historical novel, is told with clarity and grace. The period details seem sharp and accurate and seen in passing, out of the corner of the eye. The research never shows, which is an accomplishment.”


• 620 submissions (a record)
• Sixth annual competition
• First-place winners: $1000
• Second-place winners: $500
• Third-place winners: $250
• All 9 winners: scholarships to the Masters Workshop (March 12-13, 2018)

Named Sponsors

Arizona Daily Star
University of Arizona

Presenting Sponsors

Tucson Medical Center

Major Sponsors

Friend of the Festival
Pima County Public Library
Stocker Foundation
University of Arizona BookStores
Western National Parks Association
William & Mary Ross Foundation
University of Arizona - Facilities Management

Key Sponsors

Brucker Trust
Marshall Foundation
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