2013 Contest & Award Winners

In 2013, Tupelo Press held several competitions, awarding prizes to dozens of authors.

July Open Reading Period

Tupelo Press is proud and honored to select the following three manuscripts for publication from among so much deserving work received during our July 2013 Open Reading Period:

Heidi Johannesen Poon for Lady, lady

James Byrne for Everything That Is Broken Up Dances

Thomas Gardner for Poverty Creek Journal


Heidi Johannesen Poon

Heidi Johannesen Poon of Charlottesville, Virginia, for Lady, lady 

Heidi Johannesen Poon received her MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers Workshop in 1991. Her writing has been supported by Fellowships from Brown, Iowa, the MacDowell Colony, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts. She had the gift of an Irish Residency with Carlow University through the Patricia Dobler Award and published her first chapbook with the Poetry Society of America. She lives in Charlottesville with her husband and son.



jbyrne360James Byrne of the United Kingdom for Everything That Is Broken Up Dances

James Byrne is a poet and editor, born near London in 1977. His most recent poetry collectionBlood/Sugar, was published by Arc Publications in 2009. Bones Will Crow: 15 Contemporary Burmese Poets, published in June 2012, is co-edited with ko ko thett and is the first anthology of Burmese poetry ever to be published in the West (Northern Illinois University Press 2013). Byrne is the editor of The Wolf, an internationally-renowned poetry magazine, which he co-founded in 2002. He won the Treci Trg poetry festival prize in Serbia and his Selected Poems: The Vanishing House was published in Belgrade. He is the co-editor of Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century, an anthology of poets under 35, published by Bloodaxe in 2009. He was the Poet in Residence at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge and a Stein Fellow of New York University where he completed his MFA in poetry. Byrne’s poems have been translated into several languages including Arabic, Burmese and Chinese and he is the International Editor for Arc Publications.



Thomas Gardner of Blacksburg, Virginia for Poverty Creek Journal

Thomas Gardner is a literary critic, poet, and playwright. His most recent books are A Door Ajar: Contemporary Writers and Emily Dickinson (Oxford, 2006) and John in the Company of Poets: The Gospel in Literary Imagination (Baylor, 2011). His play Eurydice was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2006. Among his honors are fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts. In 1996-97, he served as the Fulbright Bicentennial Chair in American Studies at the University of Helsinki. He and his wife live in Blacksburg, Virginia, on the edge of the Jefferson National Forest. He is Alumni Distinguished Professor of English at Virginia Tech.




Please know that we received so many memorable and vibrant manuscripts that stake a serious claim of entitlement to publication, and so many, many manuscripts that had brilliant parts and pieces, yet hadn’t yet “jelled” as a book. We hope to see all of this work again. The Dorset Prize is on now. It’s read anonymously, and this year’s judge is the brilliant David Wojahn.

So many poets believe that Not Getting Selected is the same as “Rejection.” Not so, though of course it may feel that way; we read and fall in love with so very many books, and there must be at least 100 submissions I’d publish if we had the time and money. Therefore, it’s so important for poets to keep the manuscripts coming back, to keep them in front of us. It’s a vital part of the process of discovery and rediscovery.

Although the July Open Reading Period at Tupelo Press is not a contest and therefore we don’t specify “finalists” or “semi-finalists,” we do want to single several manuscripts that we felt deserving of special mention this time around. Think of these as “Honorable Mentions” all on the table right up to the final minute (and so many others, nearby, calling to us):

  • William Barnes, Santa Fe, New Mexico, The Ledgerbook
  • Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, Salt Lake City, Utah, personal silence
  • Stephen Cramer, Burlington, Vermont, Web to Weave & Corn to Grind
  • Marlon L. Fick, Overland Park, Kansas, Unamuno’s Cat
  • Michael Hettich, Miami Shores, Florida, The Purposeful Hum
  • George Kalamaras, Fort Wayne, Indiana, We Wore Monk Hair
  • Jesse Lee Kercheval, Madison, Wisconsin, Extrajera / Stranger
  • George Looney, Erie, Pennsylvania, The Indefinite Clarity of Sky: Poems of Kinsale
  • Orlando Ricordo Menes, South Bend, Indiana, Heresies
  • Chad Parmenter, Lewiston, New York, Vivienne’s Recovery
  • Juliet Rodeman, Columbia, Missouri, The Voice of That Singing
  • Meredith Stricker, Carmel California, Let Stars Swallow Us
  • John Surowiecki, Amston, Connecticut, Man Made Out of Corn Flakes
  • Elliot Khalil Wilson, Golden, Colorado, This Island of Dogs

And so many others. Keep faith. Believe in your work. What you do as poets matters more in the world than even you know.

Jeffrey Levine
Tupelo Press

First/Second Book Award

Paisley Rekdal has selected Yes Thorn by Amy McCann of Minneapolis, Minnesota as winner of the 2013 First/Second Book Award

Amy McCann

In her award message, Paisley Rekdal singles out Yes Thorn for using language “in new and exciting ways.” Rekdal goes on to admire McCann’s exploration of the critical questions: “What connects us, to each other and to belief? Can we be connected to ideas, to lovers, to religious belief, to family—without also being inscribed by these connections? Can we be moved by desire and longing without becoming subject to them?”

Amy McCann‘s poetry has recently appeared in the Kenyon Review, Gettysburg Review, and West Branch, among other journals and magazines. She was a 2012-2013 McKnight Artist Fellow in Poetry and 2012 fellowship recipient from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. She received her M.F.A. in poetry from Eastern Washington University and currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she teaches at the University of Northwestern—Saint Paul.


Paisley Rekdal has named Sleep Sculptures by Michael Homolka of New York, New York as runner-up. “Sleep Sculptures,” she says, “has an assured and muscular voice throughout. As a collection, it is a great meditation upon family romances and family narratives, where the archetypal becomes utterly original.”

Finalists (in alphabetical order):

  • Kate Braverman of Santa Fe, New Mexico for Acts of Autumn
  • Tina Cane of Rumford, Rhode Island for Archipelago
  • Noel Crook of Kittrell, North Carolina for Salt White Moon
  • Brent House of Grove City, Pennsylvania for The Lightered Prophecy
  • Steve Lautermilch of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina for Moth on a Window Pane at Dusk
  • S. D. Lishan of Marion, Ohio for The Archeology of Startled Light
  • Joy Manesiotis of Redlands, California for Revoke
  • Chad Parmenter of Lewiston, New York for Vivienne’s Recovery
  • Jeremy Pataky of Anchorage, Alaska for The Smallest Ice Age
  • Juliet Patterson of Minneapolis, Minnesota for Threnody
  • Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer of Saint Louis, Missouri for Clarkston Street Polaroids
  • Sarah Sousa of Ashfield, Massachusetts for Split the Crow
  • Sharon Wang of Queens, New York for Republic of Mercy
  • Susan Settlemyre Williams of Richmond, Virginia for Navigating the Belly of Night

Tupelo Press Snowbound Chapbook Award

Kathleen Jesme has selected Chad Parmenter’s Weston’s Unsent Letters to Modotti as winner of the 2012 – 2013 Snowbound Chapbook Award.


Chad Parmenter
Chad Parmenter

Chad Parmenter‘s poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Kenyon Review, and Harvard Review. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri, and is currently a visiting assistant professor at Niagara University

Our Distinguished Finalists (in alphabetical order)

    • John de Stefano of New York, New York for From: Three-Body Problems
    • Eric Elshtain of Oak Park, Illinois for When Will We Begin?
    • Gabriel Jesiolowski of Seattle, Washington for entry for silos
    • Karen Kevorkian, of Culver City, California for Improbable Proximities
    • Y. Madrone, of Portland, Oregon for stripe
    • Matt McBride of Columbus, Ohio for City of Motels
    • JoAnna Novak of Greenfield, Massachusetts for Secrets
    • Heather Sellers of Holland, Michigan for The Vine
    • Page Hill Starzinger of New York, New York for vortex street
    • Cheryl Clark Vermeulen of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts for Thyroid and Other Matters
    • Sharon Wang of Queens, New York for Microphones, Bread, and Love
    • Margaret Young of Beverly, Massachusetts for Blight Summer

Congratulations to all, and thank you to all the poets who sent us their work. We appreciate your participation and continued support!