Announcing the Results of Our 2022 Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Award

Tupelo Press is especially delighted to announce that our judge, Kimiko Hahn, has selected Why Misread a Cloud by Emily Carlson of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as winner of the 2022 Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Award.  

Emily Carlson is a mother, a teacher, and the director of Art in the Garden, a liberatory, anti-racist, LGBTQA+ welcoming, and joy-centered program that addresses the impacts of childhood adversity and trauma. She’s the author of two chapbooks, Symphony No. 2 (Argos Books, 2015) and I Have a Teacher (The Center for Book Arts, 2016). Her poems have appeared in Aufgabe, Bloom, Denver Quarterly, Fence, jubilat, and other journals. With friends, she runs the Bonfire Reading Series. Emily lives with her partner and their three children in an intentional community centered around an urban garden in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

Here’s what our contest judge, Kimiko Hahn, had to say about the winning chapbook:

In brief paragraphs that are neither prose nor prose poems, we meet a witness. A speaker who is not in her country of origin. A woman living in the air of violence. Militarization. And very occasionally, a mundane gesture–adding sugar to tea. The spareness creates a poetics that is, at once, elegantly stark and akin to journalism. We read between the lines because what is unsaid, makes this a poetry of image and association. What was once a broom for sweeping a kitchen, is used by a woman to sweep propaganda leaflets off the street. I finds myself engaged in a place–to a place, really–where there are ballistic helmets. Yes, strange and strangely familiar. This is how art and dreams work: with the familiarity of knowing and the dissassociation that can allow insight.

Our sincere congratulations to Emily Carlson, whose book will be out in time for her debut reading this summer at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival in Farmington, Connecticut. Watch for further announcements!


Meghan Dahn of Bronx, NY

Let Nest

Meghan Maguire Dahn’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Boston Review, Iowa Review on-line, Cincinnati Review, Horsethief, Bennington Review, Blunderbuss, The Journal, Poetry Northwest, Phantom Limb, and Beloit Poetry Journal, among others. She was a winner of the 2014 Discovery/92nd Street Y Poetry Prize.  She grew up in the woods and lives steps from Manhattan’s only forest.


Aerik Francis of Denver, CO


Aerik “phaentompoet” Francis (they/them) is a Queer Black & Latinx poet based in Denver, Colorado, USA. They are a 2020 Canto Mundo poetry fellow and a 2019 Amiri Baraka Scholar for SWP at Naropa. They are also a poetry reader for Underblong poetry journal. They have poetry published or forthcoming in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, wildness, Santa Clara Review, Tiny Spoon, Spit Poet Zine, Ghost City Press, Kissing Dynamite, and others. Find them on IG/TW @phaentompoet

Jenny Grassl of Cambridge, MA

Ephemera on The Lam

Jenny Grassl was raised in Pennsylvania, and now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her poems have appeared in The Boston Review, Rhino Poetry, Phantom Drift, Ocean State Review, The Massachusetts Review, Rogue Agent, and Inverted Syntax. Her work is included in the anthology Humanagerie (Eibonvale Press, 2018). Her poetry also appears in BOSTON, from the cities series of Dostoyevsky Wannabe Press, and in a National Poetry Month feature of The Iowa Review. Her poems are forthcoming from Lana Turner Journal.

Emily Jaeger of Wilmington, North Carolina

Throated Sun

Emily Jaeger is the author of the chapbook The Evolution of Parasites (Sibling Rivalry Press). She was the 2017-2018 Fellow at Colgate University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Indiana Review, B O D Y, TriQuarterly, and Passages North. Emily has received support from LAMBDA, TENT and the New York State Summer Writers Institute and holds an MFA from UMASS Boston.

John James of Louisville, Kentucky

The Delusion of Being Absolute

John James is the author of The Milk Hours, selected by Henri Cole for the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize (Milkweed, 2019). He is also the author of Chthonic, winner of the 2014 CutBank Chapbook Award. His poems appear in Boston Review, Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, PEN America, Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. A digital collagist, his image-text experiments appear in Quarterly West, The Adroit Journal, and LIT.

Also a scholar, John writes on poetry and poetics from 1740 to the present. He has presented papers at Yale University, the University of Chicago, and NAVSA’s 2017 Victorian Preserves conference in Banff, Alberta. His current project, tentatively titled “Made Future,” investigates the science, technology, and manufactured environments of the British eighteenth century.

His work has been supported by fellowships and awards from the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference, the Academy of American Poets, and Georgetown University’s Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he is pursuing a PhD in English and Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley.

Arthur Kayzakian of Burbank, California

My Burning City

Arthur Kayzakian is an Armenian-Iranian-American diasporic poet, a teacher, and an MFA graduate from San Diego State University. He is the cofounder of Best Hybrid Works, a contributing editor at Poetry International and has served as an editor at The B-Side literary journal. He is a recipient of the Minas Savvas Fellowship, and his poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from several publications including Pacific Review, Rufous City Review, and Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art.

Sophie Klahr & Corey Zeller of Carrboro, North Carolina


Sophie Klahr’s poems can be read in publications such at The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Poetry London, Academy of American Poets, and elsewhere. She is the author of “Meet Me Here At Dawn” (YesYes Books) and the chapbook “_____ Versus Recovery” (Pilot Books). She currently teaches a variety of ongoing online poetry classes, in addition to offering private literary editing services.Sophie writes collaboratively with the poet Corey Zeller; originally a dancer, her interdisciplinary workds include creating scenic texts for dance theatre and choreography for performance artworks. She is the editor / co-creator of the annual Teen Sequins feature at Gigantic Sequins, where she served as poetry editor from 2010-2015.The 2019-2020 Kenan Visiting Writer at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Sophie was also the Spring 2019 Philip Roth Resident at Bucknell University’s Stadler Center for Literary Arts. She is the recipient of fellowships and scholarships from the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Tin House Workshop, and the Juniper Institute. Between 2015 – 2018, Sophie was a recurrent long-term artist-in-residence at Art Farm in Marquette, NE. Sophie was an original faculty member in the Creative Writing program at the Kinder High School for Visual and Performing Arts (Houston, TX) , and taught / mentored low-income elementary school students through a community college tutoring program (Vallejo, CA). She holds degrees from the University of Houston and Emerson College, and has been working since 2012 as a freelance literary editor, ghostwriter, copywriter, and teacher. 

Corey Zeller is the author of MAN VS. SKY (YesYes Books, 2013) and YOU AND OTHER PIECES (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2015).

His work has appeared in PEN America, The Academy of American Poets, Verse Daily, Kenyon Review, The Colorado Review, BOMB Magazine, Indiana Review, McSweeney’s, Gulf Coast, and other publications. He has held editorial positions at Mud Luscious Press, H_NGM_N Books, Salt Hill, and Ampersand Review.

Most recently, he taught creative writing at Syracuse University.

Adrian Lürssen of Mill Valley, California


Born and raised in South Africa, Adrian Lürssen lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. His chapbook, NEOWISE, is forthcoming from Trainwreck Press. Over the years, his poetry has appeared in Fence, Phoebe, Indiana Review, The Bombay Gin, The Boston Review, American Letters & Commentary, Word for/Word, NOMATERIALISM, and places elsewhere. Collaborations with Norma Cole are forthcoming in Second Stutter. On instagram at @adequatic

Matthew Minicucci of Northport, Alabama


Matthew Minicucci grew up in Massachusetts and received his MFA in Poetry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His teaching and research interests include poetics and prosody, classical allusions in contemporary poetry, ekphrastic poetry, lyric creative nonfiction, and literary editing and publishing. His first full-length collection, Translation (Kent State University Press), was chosen by Jane Hirshfield for the 2014 Wick Poetry Prize. His poetry and essays have appeared in or are forthcoming from a number of journals including APR, The Believer, Ploughshares, POETRY, and The Southern Review, among others. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards including the Stanley P. Young Fellowship in Poetry from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and a Writer-in-Residence fellowship from the James Merrill House. During the summer of 2019, he served as the 43rd Dartmouth Poet-in-Residence. He currently teaches at the University of Alabama in the English Department and as a Senior Fellow in the Blount Scholars Program.

Christopher Nelson of Grinnell, Iowa

On Ruin

Christopher Nelson is the author of Blood Aria (University of Wisconsin Press, 2021) and three chapbooks: Blue House, published in the Poetry Society of America’s Chapbook Series; Capital City at Midnight, recipient of the 2014 BLOOM Chapbook Prize; and Love Song for the New World, published in the Seven Kitchens Press Editor’s Chapbook Series. He is the editor of the anthology Essential Voices: Poetry of Iran and Its Diaspora. He is the founder and editor of Green Linden Press and the journal Under a Warm Green Linden, named by Entropy Magazine as one of the best journals of 2017, and three times a finalist for the CLMP Firecracker Award. 

Among his honors are a fellowship from the Jacob K. Javits Foundation and inclusion in the Best New Poets series. His poems have appeared in the Boston Review, Image, Long Poem Magazine, The Missouri Review, RHINO Poetry, Salamander, The Seattle Review, and elsewhere.

Glenn Shaheen of Houston, Texas

The Tender Land

Glenn Shaheen received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston and his PhD in English Literature & Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. He was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and currently lives in Houston, Texas and is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Prairie View A&M University.

His book of poems, Predatory, won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize and was the finalist for the Norma Farber First Book Award. It is available from the University of Pittsburgh Press. He is also the author of the chapbook of flash fiction, Unchecked Savagery, available from Ricochet Editions.

His second collection of poetry, Energy Corridor, is available from the University of Pittsburgh Press, and was published in 2016.

Carnivalia, his full-length collection of flash fiction, was published by Gold Wake Press in February of 2018.

Work has appeared in Ploughshares, The New Republic, Subtropics, and elsewhere.

Donora Shaw of Hanover, Pennsylvania


Donora Shaw (née Hillard) is the author of the poetry books Jeff Bridges (with illustrations by Goodloe Byron; Cobalt Press, 2016), Covenant (with Zachary C. Bush; Gold Wake Press, 2012), and Theology of the Body (Gold Wake Press, 2010); the poetry chapbooks The Aphasia Poems (S▲L, 2014), Exhibition (Gold Wake Press, 2008), and Parapherna (dancing girl press, 2006); and the play The Plagiarist (NEA, 2015).

Shaw has taught as a senior lecturer in English at The University of Akron and as the youngest-ever faculty member in English at King’s College; she has also given workshops at Winter Wheat: The Mid-American Review Festival of Writing and elsewhere. She completed her MA and MFA in creative writing at Rutgers University and Wilkes University and the requirements for her PhD in English at Wayne State University. She currently has three projects in development: SHAW, a pilot for a Western series; SCORPION, a poetry book about her late mother; and ANNIHILATION, a theoretical text about the limitations of academia.

Shaw’s poems have been recognized by the Poetry Foundation, Poets House, and The Pushcart Prize, and her work appears in Hint Fiction (W.W. Norton & Company), Pedagogy, Women in Clothes (Penguin Random House), and other anthologies and journals as well as on CNN, MSNBC, and WBEZ Chicago (NPR). She lives in her home state of Pennsylvania with her husband and family and recently gave birth to a daughter, Merrin.

Sara Watson of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Our Imaginary Childhood

SARA WATSON’s poems have appeared in BOAAT, PANK, The Southern Review, and other journals. She studied poetry at Chatham University and earned a PhD in English & Comparative Literature from the University of Cincinnati. She currently lives in Pittsburgh, where she teaches Intro to Women & Gender Studies.

Nicholas Yingling of Martinez California

The Thin Book

Nicholas Yingling’s work can be found in The Missouri Review, 32 Poems, Pleiades, Colorado Review, and elsewhere. He is a graduate of UC Davis’ creative writing program and currently lives in Los Angeles, CA.


Anthony Borruso of Tallahassee, Florida.  Bit Parts.

Sean A. Cho of Cincinnati, Ohio.  Casual Dissonance.

Dante Di Stefano of Endwell, New York. Heartland Errata.

C.W. Emerson of Palm Springs, California. Love & Bone.

Wayne Johns of Greensboro, North Carolina. Vivarium.

S. Kim of London, United Kingdom. Notes from the North Korean-Chinese-Russian Border.

Lydia Liu of Berkeley, California.  The problem of deer.

Calgary Martin of Champaign, Illinois. Wave, City, Child.

Madeleine Miele of Portland, Maine. Perceptual Limits of the Particular Field.

Trey Moody of Omaha, Nebraska. The Trains of San Marcos.

Tina Schumann of Seattle, Washington. Epistolarium.

Alan Sodofsky of San Jose, California. Charts (for the End of Days).

Arthur Solway of Santa Cruz, California.  Siddhartha On Fire.

Phil Spotswood of Chicago, Illinois.  Flowers from Apocrypha.  

Oswaldo Vargas of Sacramento, California. To Salazar & Back.

Ariel Yisrael of Cincinnati, Ohio. Threshold People.

Congratulations as well to this years superb cast of finalists and semifinalists. Enormous thanks as well to our terrific readers and judge, the estimable Kimiko Hahn. Finally, and perhaps most important, our special gratitude goes out to all who sent us your chapbooks and who, by your writing, link arms in the tireless, solitary, and so-important work of making poetry. So many more manuscripts than we can mention here gave us (literally) countless hours of reading pleasure. Finally, we hope you will consider letting us see your chapbook manuscript again, as our annual Snowbound Chapbook Award is on now. Wed also love to see your full-length manuscript, as the annual Berkshire Prize for a First or Second Book of Poetry is also open for submissions.