Announcing the Results of the 2020 July Open Reading Period

This year, the editors at Tupelo Press are grateful to have had the chance to read and reread your manuscripts that came to us in record numbers and record quality. We read over 1,400 manuscripts that came to us from across the United States and around the world.  

Tupelo Press is delighted to announce that we have committed to publish three of the submitted manuscripts, but also, we wish to honor our runners-up and “manuscripts of extraordinary merit.” Please read on for those names. 

But first, we’d like to extend our sincerest thanks to an accomplished team of Preliminary Readers: Corey Van Landingham, Lauren Camp, Allison Titus, Noah Falck, Amy Beeder, and Anthony Immergluck.  Their feedback was invaluable as we reviewed this year’s stunning set of submissions.  

We are proud and honored to select for publication the following three manuscripts:

The Strings Are Lightning and Hold You In, submitted by Chee Brossy of Santa Fe, New Mexico

Ore Choir:  The Lava on Iceland, submitted by Katy Didden of Indianapolis, Indiana

We Are Changed to Deer at the Broken Place, by Kelly Weber of Fort Collins, Colorado

About the Authors 

Chee Brossy was born in Chinle, Arizona, and grew up in Red Mesa, Arizona. He is Diné, originally from Lukachukai and Wheatfields, Arizona. He attended Dartmouth College, where he studied English and Native American Studies. His poetry and fiction have appeared in Denver Quarterly, Sentence, Prairie Schooner, Red Ink Magazine and elsewhere. He has worked as a reporter, basketball coach, English literature instructor, and fundraiser. He lives in New Mexico.  This will be Chee Brossy’s first published book.

In response to Chee Brossy’s The Strings Are Lightning and Hold You In, the editors of Tupelo Press write:  In this stunning collection, Chee Brossy forges a poetics of wonder, dailiness, and transformation.  Here, the “sugar cane Coke” and “the leafy houseplant[s]” of the speaker’s daily life, those artifacts of routine, are revealed as glimpses into all that is unknowable, subtle reminders of “today’s mystery.”  Indeed, Brossy’s work, with its understated approach and artful evocation, reads as a celebration of all that lies beyond what can be said in language.  For Brossy, a meditation on the ineffable, with its innate poeticism and philosophical allure, is not merely an exercise in aesthetics; it is revealing of culture and of the body politic.  Here, we witness questions of power, agency, and resistance bound up in what seem at first like simple acts of perception and aesthetic pleasure. “A red-tipped fox trots lazily out. The knives adjust themselves in the dishwasher,” Brossy tell us in language that shines with lyricism and invention.  He shows us, in fearful and loving detail, the “starlight vapor in our lungs” and the “terrible dust” within each one of us. “Strength runs through blood like horses,” Brossy reminds us. This is a complex and ultimately transformative debut.    


Katy Didden’s first book, The Glacier’s Wake, won the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize and was published by Pleiades Press in 2013. She has published poems and essays in journals such as Poetry NorthwestTupelo Quarterly, Diagram, 32 Poems, The Kenyon Review, and The Sewanee Review, and her work has been featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily. She has been awarded fellowships to attend both the Sewanee and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences and was a 2013-2014 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University. In 2018, she participated in a Banff Research in Culture Residency called Beyond Anthropocene and collaborated with artists and scholars to create the Almanac for the Beyond (Tropic Editions, 2019). She is currently an Assistant Professor at Ball State University

In response to Katy Didden’s Ore Choir, The Lava on Iceland, the editors of Tupelo Press write:  Katy Didden’s Ore Choir:  The Lava on Iceland forges a poetics of the archive that is as visually stunning as it is visceral and technically accomplished.  “I trace the beginning of the modern.  I paint vales,” she tells us. Pairing image-driven lyric fragments with gorgeously rendered erasures, Didden reminds us, in true modernist fashion, of the materiality of the medium, while also responding to and deconstructing the textual artifacts that populate her book.  Like many of the feminist practitioners of erasure that came before her—including Mary Ruefle, Yedda Morrison, and Jen Bervin—Didden calls our attention to the way history is buried beneath the words we only thought we knew.  At the same time, Didden’s work is revolutionary in that she reveals this buried history, this muted violence, as a mirror image of the natural world, the complex geology that makes possible life, language, and story. “Art is central—/ sun and stone,” Didden writes.  This is a book you will not soon forget.   


Kelly Weber’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Brevity, The Missouri Review, Tupelo Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Cream City Review, and elsewhere. She has received several Pushcart Prize nominations. She holds an MFA from Colorado State University, where she served as an intern with Colorado Review. She lives in Colorado with two rescue cats. More of her work can be found at This will be Kelly Weber’s first published book

In response to Kelly Weber’s We Are Changed to Deer at the Broken Place, the editors of Tupelo Press write:  One could certainly say that Kelly Weber’s debut collection, We Are Changed to Deer at the Broken Place, depicts a non-binary experience that does not receive nearly enough representation in the literary landscape. While such an assertion would be factual, this kind of reading would underestimate Weber’s poetic gifts and the full range of the philosophical implications for her work. Weber writes, “What pulls a woman like me / out here alone, they want to know?” As she teases out possible answers to this question, Weber reveals—with remarkable lyricism and grace—the danger, richness, and multiplicity housed within solitary experience and within the individual subject. Adriana Cavererro, the famed scholar of vocal expression, once noted that thought itself is a collective endeavor, made possible by a shared cultural imagination. Weber reveals self as world, self as community in poems that situate an inherited tradition in conversation with postmodern innovation and undertheorized, urgently important concepts of identity. This is an unforgettable first book.  

In addition to the three books we’ve chosen, we’d very much like to single out other exceptional manuscripts. All were on the table right up to the final minute.


Nefertiti Asanti of Oakland, California, fist of wind 

Jessica Fisher of Williamstown, Massachusetts, Daywork 

Melissa Ginsburg of Oxford, Mississippi, Selvedge 

Vandana Khanna of Studio City, California, Self Portrait as Girl, Only Part Miracle 

Emilie Menzel of Hillsboro, North Carolina, The Girl Who Became a Rabbit 

JoAnna Novak of Galesburg, Illinois, DOMESTEREXIA

Manuscripts of Extraordinary Merit:

Stephanie Anderson of Singapore, The Magpie Letters 

J. Mae Barizo of New York, New York, ISOLA 

Craig Beaven of Tallahassee, Florida, Teaching the Baby to Say I Love You 

Martine Bellen of Astoria, New York, An Anatomy of Curiosity

Christopher Blackman of New York, New York, The Four Seasons 

Nicole Callihan of Brooklyn, New York, Of Many Rooms 

Abigail Cloud of Bowling Green, Ohio, The Oracle’s Stenographer 

Gillian Cummings of White Plains, New York, Ever the Rain 

Tony D’Arpino of Bristol, United Kingdom, Ephemeris for Sea Stars 

Chelsea Dingman of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, I, Divided 

Patrick Errington of Edinburgh, Midlothian, United Kingdom, the swailing 

John Glowney of Seattle, Washington, Visitation 

Daniel Groves of Savoy, Illinois, Gossip: An Oral History

Sekyo Haines of Cambridge, Massachusetts, The Bitter Season’s Whip  

Myronn Hardy of Lewiston, Maine, American Aurora

Dennis Hinrichsen of Lansing, Michigan, scheme geometric 

Rafiq Kathwari of New York, New York, My Mother’s Scribe 

Zachary Kluckman of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Rearview Funhouse 

Hailey Leithäuser of Silver Spring, Maryland, Glove Shove Dove 

Elizabeth Metzger of Pacific Palisades, California, Lying In  

Rena Mosteirin of Lime, New Hampshire, An Alarm 

Joshua Nguyen of Oxford, Mississippi, Come Clean

Katie Prince of Seattle, Washington, Tell This to the Universe

Maya Pindyck of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, But the Orange Tree  

Shelley Puhak of Baltimore, Maryland, Harbinger  

Jenny Qi of San Francisco, California, Focal Point 

Page Richards of Discovery Bay, Hong Kong, Like A Luminous Hare 

Mary Ann Samyn of Morgantown, West Virginia, The Return from Calvary 

Brandon Thurman of Fayetteville, Arkansas, Leftover Hymns 

Adam Veal of San Diego, California, If you have reason to believe that you may be a fictional character 

Grace Wagner of Houston, Texas, The Gift Shop at the End of the World 

Mike Walsh of Denver, Colorado, View from the Crow’s Missing Eye 

Natalie Wee of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Beast at Every Threshold 

Leslie Williams of Newton, Massachusetts, I Won’t Let You Go Unless You Bless Me 


We are all human, we writers, and tender when it comes to announcements like this, and tend (of course) to believe that Not Getting Selected equals “Rejection.” Not so. We fall in love with many of the manuscripts we read (both full-length and chapbooks), many of which we would publish if we had the time and money. This is why it’s important for you as poets to keep your manuscripts in circulation. Keeping them in front of us and other publishers you admire. Our Sunken Garden Chapbook Prize, judged by Mark Bibbins, is currently open to submissions, as is the Dorset Prize, to be judged by Tyehimba Jess. We encourage you to let us see your work again.