American Literary Review
2011 Poetry Contest
Here is what Joanie Mackowski, who judged the poetry contest blindly,
thought of the winning poem:
Winner: Joseph Duemer, "Lake Surface Full of Clouds"
Stretching its keen observations and minutely choreographed sentences
over the advancing paw prints of its lines, "Lake Surface Full of
Clouds" makes language ductile and makes the reader recall the animal
and chemical pleasures of reading. This poem finds an atomic pulse:
"thing & song// in their wild fullness full."
Joanie Mackowski's collections of poems are The Zoo (2002) and View from a Temporary Window (2010). She received a BA from Wesleyan University, was a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, and received a PhD from University of Missouri. A teacher at the university level for many years, she has worked as a French translator, a journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a juggler. She is the winner of the 2003 Kate Tufts Discovery award, and the 2008 Writer Magazine/Emily Dickinson award.
2011 Creative Nonfiction Contest
Here is what Alice Dark, who judged the creative nonfiction contest blindly,
thought of the winning piece and the runner up:
Winner: Barbara Cameron, "Hawk Blood"
This braided essay takes on so much; the difficulty of writing clearly about a personal trauma, the assumptions made about and behavior toward working class people, the pain of artistic failure and the influence of praise, and the probity of death. Best of all, it shows why a person who works hard on her feet for a living would want to take on as difficult and thankless an activity as writing in her spare time. I love the connections this piece makes between its disparate parts. I love the varied sentences. Writing is necessarily about writing-when it is good. "Hawk Blood" shows this.
Runner Up: Starre Vartan, "Icewalkers"
A young girl literally walks on thin ice to prove herself to the local ice skater boys. The premise is a familiar rite of passage for young girls, but this author focuses on descriptions of ice, cold, and winter in a way that gives them symbolic weight and resonance. I liked how this author was able to make complex her 11-year-old self, her decisions both considered and impulsive. The ice is the center here, though; it changes color, moans, tinkles, cracks; it is alive.
Alice Elliott Dark is the author of 4 books: Naked to the Waist (stories and novellas), The Betty Book (humor), In the Gloaming (stories), and Think of England (a novel.) Her stories and essays have been widely published and anthologized, including in The New Yorker, Harper's, Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Stories, and The New York Times. She is an Assistant Professor in the MFA program and English department at Rutgers-Newark. aliceelliottdark.blogspot.com