Announcing the Results of Our 2021 July Open Reading Period

Tupelo Press is delighted to announce that we will publish four manuscripts submitted to us throughout this year’s July Open Reading Period.

The editors are grateful to have read (and reread) more than 1,400 July Open manuscripts that came to us, not only in record numbers, but in record quality—arriving at our doorstep from throughout the United States, and from every continent save the Arctic.

We also wish to honor several runners-up, along with a list of manuscripts that we found so very deserving, and have referred to as Other 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. Their feedback was invaluable as we reviewed this year’s stunning set of submissions. Final selections were made by Kristina Marie Darling, Editor-in-Chief, Cassandra Cleghorn, Poetry Editor, and Jeffrey Levine, Artistic Director. Each of the selected poets will receive a $1,000 advance, as well as publication, publicity and distribution by Tupelo Press.

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

  • Tender Machines, submitted by J. Mae Barizo of New York, New York
  • Membery, submitted by Preeti Kaur Rajpal of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • The Unreal City, submitted by Mike Lala of Brooklyn, New York, and
  • THINE, submitted by Kate Partridge of Denver, Colorado.

About Our Four Selected Authors:

Born in Toronto to Filipino immigrants, J. Mae Barizo is a poet, essayist and performer and the author of The Cumulus Effect (Four Way Books). Recent work appears in Poetry, Ploughshares, AGNI, Bookforum, Boston Review, Esquire and Los Angeles Review of Books. She is the recipient of awards from Bennington College, the New School, Poets House, and the Jerome Foundation. Her essay manuscript, Pink Noise, was shortlisted for the 2020 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize. She is the inaugural recipient of OPERA AMERICA’s IDEA residency, given to composers and librettists who have the potential to shape the future of opera. Her song cycle, written with composer Alyssa Weinberg, will be premiered at Princeton University in Fall 2021. She lives in New York City and teaches literature and transdisciplinary studies at Pratt Institute School of Architecture.

In response to J. Mae Barizo’s Tender Machines, the editors of Tupelo Press write: 

“What struck us immediately when reading Tender Machines is the marvelous care with which J. Mae Barizo inhabits language.  Here, every stunning metaphor, every singular turn of phrase, is as intentional as it is astonishing.  Yet J. Mae Barizo’s Tender Machines does not simply offer surprise and wonder on the level of diction.  Barizo shows us that a revolution in poetic language can open up new ways of seeing the world, as well as understanding one’s place within it.  Indeed, in ‘Morning in a City,’ Barizo writes, as though describing her own poetics, ‘epiphanies are about forgetting.’  In such a way, Tender Machines bears us far away from the limitations that we tend to impose upon language. It is the beauty and lyricism inherent in this ‘forgetting’ that is perhaps most profound.  Brava!”  

Photo by Anna Min

Preeti Kaur Rajpal grew up in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Preeti first began writing as a student of June Jordan in her Poetry for the People program at UC Berkeley. Her work can be found in The Sikh Review, South Asian Magazine for Action and Reflection, Spook, Tupelo Quarterly, The Lantern Review, and other publications. Her poems are anthologized in The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets Speak on Faith and Spirit and the forthcoming They Rise Like a Wave: An Anthology of Asian American Women Poets. She has been a Fellow with Loft Literary Center’s Mentor Series, Poetry Foundation and Crescendo Literary’s Emerging Poet’s Incubator, Writing by Writers, Tin House Summer and Winter Workshops, Fine Arts Work Center’s Workshops, Mendocino Coast Writers Conference, and Kearny Street Workshop. Her work is supported by the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Jerome Foundation. Preeti was a 2019-2020 inaugural Jerome Hill Artist Fellow in Literature. She is a 2021 Storyknife and Anderson Center Writer-in-Residence and will be a Djerassi Artist Resident in 2022. Her debut poetry manuscript explores issues of belonging, to both family and the nation-state. She writes through post-memory in the shadow of historic India’s Partition and the racialization of Sikhs in the post-9/11 Global War on Terror era.

In response to Preeti Kaur Rajpal’s Membery, the editors of Tupelo Press write:

“In Membery, Preeti Kaur expertly frames poetry as a space particularly conducive to conversation between artistic traditions, genres, and types of rhetoric.  But this capacious book is not simply a tribute to modernist influence.  Kaur places experimental technique and its array of forms — including templates that are not germane to poetry, footnotes, and hybrid texts — in dialogue with religious texts, urgent human rights issues, and nonwestern philosophy.  In such a way, Kaur forges a complex, multifaceted poetics of social justice. Indeed, she reveals literature as a hypothetical testing ground, where language is no longer constrained by categories or genres, and this fluidity can give rise to new — and more ethical ways — of moving through the world. Here, the poetic text is revealed as intervention, as corrective gesture, as reversal. Membery is the kind of book that takes up residence in one’s memory.”

Mike Lala grew up in the western United States and Tokyo, and lives in New York. He’s the author of Exit Theater (2016 Colorado Prize for Poetry), The Unreal City (forthcoming from Tupelo Press), and the chapbooks Points of Return, In the Gun Cabinet, and Twenty-Four Exits: A Closet Drama. Poems appear in American Poetry Review, BOMB, Boston Review, Fence, The Brooklyn Rail, Denver Quarterly, New American Writing, the PEN Poetry Series, and Hauser & Wirth’s Ursula.

Lala’s installations, performance, and libretti include Whale Fall (2021), Madeleines: Tell Me What It Was Like (2020, with Iris McCloughan), Oedipus in the District (2018–19), and Infinite Odyssey (2018). He has presented work at the 92nd Street Y (for Anne Carson’s Tenth Muse), The Knitting Factory, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Sawdust, New Ohio Theatre, Pioneer Works, The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s, The Tank NYC, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. www.mikelala.com

In response to Mike Lala’s The Unreal City, the editors of Tupelo Press write: 

“Mike Lala’s The Unreal City offers a singularly accomplished and delightfully unruly poetics.  What’s so compelling about Lala’s writerly craft is that this disruption takes many forms, each complicating and enriching the other.  Here, the ruptured poetic line exists in tension with the sentence, creating a charged and urgent music reminiscent of Frank O’Hara or Shane McCrae.  Where most poems in literary journals are neatly aligned to the left margin, Lala uses the page as a canvas, a visual field.  But Lala does not simply offer experimentation for its own sake.  When considering his persistent and necessary challenges to artistic tradition, to intellectual history, and to the status quo, his impressive orchestration of fragmented, postmodern forms seems fitting, necessary.  After all, a singular voice often necessitates new and exciting forms of discourse.  The Unreal City is a masterful collection of poems.” 

Kate Partridge is the author of the poetry collection Ends of the Earth (U. of Alaska, 2017), and her poems have appeared in FIELD, Yale Review, Pleiades, Michigan Quarterly Review, Quarterly West, and other journals. She is a graduate of the MFA program at George Mason University and the PhD in creative writing and literature at the University of Southern California. She lives in Denver, where she is an Assistant Professor of English at Regis University.

In response to Kate Partridge’s THINE, the editors of Tupelo Press :

“In a literary landscape filled with straightforward autobiographical writing, Kate Partridge is a singular voice, offering poems as mysterious as they are rewarding, erudite, and expansive. One of Partridge’s great gifts is the ability to explore the porous boundary between self and world, to interrogate the ever-shifting nature of the artistic self as it enters into conversation with literature, art, and philosophy. However, to say that Partridge’s THINE simply represents a distinctive approach at the moment would be to greatly underestimate her powers as a writer.  In ‘Fanfare for the Dinosaurs,’ or, ‘The Trumpeter,’ Partridge writes, “As if I had done a thing to deserve it / this delight.’  These lines precisely describe our experience of reading Partridge’s work. THINE is an achievement, and Partridge’s star is clearly rising.”

In addition to the four books we’ve chosen to publish, we wish to single out nine exceptional runners-up. Each of these manuscripts was on the table right up to the final minutes:

Fay Dillof of Berkeley, California for Even When You Don’t Seem to Be Getting Anywhere. Dillof’s work has appeared in Gettysburg Review, Ploughshares, Spillway, Field, New Ohio Review, Green Mountain Review, Plume, Rattle, Verse Daily, and other publications. Her honors include the Dogwood Literary Prize in Poetry, The Milton Kessler Memorial Prize for Poetry, and scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers Conference and Napa Valley Writers’ Conference.


Ezra Feldman of Bennington, Vermont, for On What Sun.  Feldman teaches English and Science and Technology Studies at Williams College. He is the author of Habitat of Stones (Tebot Bach), and his poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, Lambda Literary Review, PANK, The Los Angeles Review, Gertrude, and other journals.

Elisa A. Garza of Houston, Texas for Regalos. Garza has published two chapbooks, Entre la Claridad (Mouthfeel Press) and Familia (a bestseller for The Portlandia Group). Her poems have been awarded a Literature Fellowship from the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Emerging Writer Award from the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation.

Jenny Grassl of Cambridge, Massachusetts for Deer Woman in the Dining Room. Grassl’s poems have appeared in The Boston Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Laurel Review, Green Mountains Review, The Massachusetts Review, Ocean State Review, Lana Turner, and elsewhere.

H.L. Hix of Laramie, Wyoming, for Beckoned Back by Hell-Bent Blackbirds. His most recent poetry collection is As Much As, If Not More (2014). Hix’s many honors and awards include the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Grolier Prize, and the Peregrine Smith Award. He is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kansas Arts Commission, and the Missouri Arts Council.


Jasmine Khaliq of Salt Lake City, Utah, for Facefull. A finalist for Diagram’s 2021 Chapbook Contest and a semi-finalist for Tupelo Press’s 2021 Berkshire Prize, Jasmine Khaliq serves as Assistant Editor of Quarterly West, and reads for Split Lip Magazine. Her poetry is found or forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Black Warrior Review, The Pinch, phoebe, Poet Lore, The Boiler, and elsewhere.

Mackenzie Kozak of Candler, North Carolina for after lemnos. Kozak’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Poetry Journal, Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Poetry Northwest, Sixth Finch, and elsewhere. Mackenzie serves as an associate editor at Orison Books and Asheville Poetry Review. A different manuscript was a finalist for the National Poetry Series.


Bino Realuyo of Jackson Heights, New York for #TheRebelSonnets. Realuyo is the author of the novel, The Umbrella Country and the poetry collection, The Gods We Worship Live Next Door.  His literary works have appeared in The Nation, The Kenyon Review, The Missouri Review, Harvard Review, Asymptote, North American Review, ZYZZYVA and elsewhere.

Spring Ulmer of Essex, New York for Tomorrow We Will Continue To Say Goodbye.  Ulmer’s honors include grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, the Kentucky Arts Council, and the Andrea Frank Foundation. She is the author of The Age of Virtual Reproduction, The Bestiality of the Involved, and Benjamin’s Spectacles, which was chosen by Sonia Sanchez for the Kore Press First Book Award 2007.

A short message from the Editors:

We would also like to honor other manuscripts of extraordinary merit, but before we do, we wish to acknowledge we are all human, we writers, and so very tender when it comes to announcements like this. We tend (of course) to believe that not getting selected equals “rejection.” Not so. We fall in love with so many of the manuscripts we read (both full-length and chapbooks), many of which we would publish if we had the time and money, and we learn so much by reading all of the submissions. This is why it’s so important for you, as poets, to keep your work in front of us as well as other publishers you admire.

Please keep in mind that our Sunken Garden Chapbook Prize (Kimiko Hahn, final judge) is currently open to submissions until November 30th, 2021 at 11:59 PM ET.  Our Dorset Prize (Tyehimba Jess, final judge) is also currently open to submission through December 31st. We encourage you to let us see your work again. 

Here now, a list of other Manuscripts of Extraordinary Merit:

Bruce Beasley of Bellingham, Washington, Prayershreds and Study for a Hallelujah

Adam Berlin of New York, New York, always in my Hollywood

Julia Bouwsma of New Portland, Maine, Death Fluorescence

Eric Burger of Longmont, Colorado, Dark Picnic

Ana Maria Caballero of West Palm Beach, Florida, Mammal

Kristen Case of Temple, Maine, Daphne

Jack Christian of Denton, Texas, In Plain Air

Ansley Clark of Bremerton, Washington, Bloodline

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

Sade Collier of New York, New York, Song of Adolescence

Cynie Cory of Tallahassee, Florida, Unholy Quadrant

Caroline Crew of Black Mountain, North Carolina, Double Bind

Melissa Crowe of Wilmington, North Carolina, Lo

Raphael Dagold of Morristown, New Jersey, Relief Effort

Alexis David of Buffalo, New York, /dəˈmestik/

John de Stefano of New York, New York, Occasional Islands

Kerry James Evans of Milledgeville, Georgia, Arachne’s Tapestry

Jeannine Hall Gailey of Woodinville, Washington, Flare, Corona

Sarah Giragosian of Schenectady, New York, The First Hunger

Shaun Griffin of Virginia City, Nevada, For All the Lands We Will Pass Through: Poems and Stories by Young Adults of the Disappeared

Kelly Hoffer of Ithaca, New York, Fire Series

Catherine Imbriglio of Riverside, Rhode Island, [Numeracy]

Betsy Johnson of St. Joseph, Minnesota, nails and wings

Hanae Jonas of Austin, Texas, Softly Undercover

George Looney of Erie, Pennsylvania, After Something Not Visible

Jennifer Maier of Seattle, Washington, The Occupant

Marie-Elizabeth Mali of Santa Monica, California, If the Ocean Had a Mouth

Judith H. Montgomery of Oregon City, Oregon, Temptation: Her Interviews

Simone Muench and Jackie K. White of Chicago, Illinois, The Under Hum

Jesse Nathan of Oakland, California, Between States

JoAnna Novak of Galesburg, Illinois, DOMESTIREXIA

Cynthia Dewi Oka of Collingswood, New Jersey, A Tinderbox in Three Acts

Kaitlyn Palmer of Chicago, Illinois, This Black Woman Body Shakes Salt On Wounds

Allyson Paty of Brooklyn, New York, Jalousie

Genevieve Pfeiffer of Scarsdale, New York, This Is A Form Of Begging

Elizabeth A.I. Powell of Underhill, Vermont, Into the Mistake

Katrina Roberts of Walla Walla, Washington, Likeness: A Graphic, Poetic Incantation

Hannah Star Rogers of Waverly, Alabama, No Paradise without a Snake

Steven Salmoni of Oro Valley, Arizona, In/Script

Mary Ann Samyn of Royal Oak, Michigan, The Return from Calvary

Michael Snediker of Houston, Texas, Meanderest

Jessica Tanck of Salt Lake City, Utah, Winter Here  

Barbara Tomash of Berkeley, California, Her Scant State

Karla Van Vliet of Bristol, Vermont, Gently Gently

Emily Vizzo of Santa Barbara, California, Hotly

Zoë Ryder White of Gardiner, New York, Via Post

Leslie Williams of Newton, Massachusetts, Far the Lantern

Jordan Windholz of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, The Sisters

Emily Wolahan of San Francisco, California, Bitter Bright

Jane Zwart of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Where it ends and where it doesn’t

Congratulations to all of the poets whose exciting work gave us so many, many hours of pleasurable reading, not only those poets cited above, but all who submitted manuscript to our July Open Reading Period. We hope to see your work again!

Respectfully,

The Editors