Thank you for your patience as I’ve read and re-read and deliberated over these manuscripts since May. While I know I say how hard it is to decide every year, the 2018 contest yielded nearly double the entries we’ve gotten in any of our past contests. This made for a much larger time commitment than previous years, and also impossible decisions to make. Of the 260 we received for the Vella Contest, even narrowing it down to a list of 29 (the 10% named as finalists, plus three winners) was daunting and difficult. Please know that, if you do not see your name below, it is still certainly likely that I really admired your work.

Winners
Translation – Ananda Lima
Flight – Robin Littell
Stray Harbor – Rage Hezekiah

Finalists (In order in which they were received)
Best True Love Stories – Jan Stinchcomb
Loves Lost and Other Vanishings – Shuly Cawood
Imaginary Weather – Jennifer Moore
New Histories – Amanda Chiado
Strata and Ax – Richard Lyons
Imagine Her Opening – Ali McClain
eidetic – Emily O’Neil
Towing Capacity – Autumn McClintock
Lullaby – D. G. Geis
The Truth about Our American Births – Judith Skillman
Saffron Splash – Ann Huang
The Alpine Valley – sarah dobbs
Chain Down the Moon – Carolyne Whelan
Small Fictions – Tasha Cotter
Your Posthumous Dress – A. Pence
What We Still Don’t Know – Dawn Paul
What’s Kept Alive – Aaron Caycedo-Kimura
Who Am I? and Other Poems – Saytam Moorty
Mantis – Tolu Oloruntoba
Notes for an Interview with the Widow – laurie rosenblatt
of infinite universes – Chelsea Catherine
Born-Again Anything – Kara Krewer
The Civil War War – Marc Sheehan
Southern Twang – pamela sumners
Animal Watch: Lyrics Essays – Norma Tilden
Proximity: Men and Me and Two Parts – Wheeler Light

Please join me in congratulating these writers for their extraordinary work. Thanks again to all who shared their writing with me these past several months — and for your patience in waiting for these results to be announced. Now that I have this step completed, I’ll finally be sending out the back issues that some folks ordered bundled in with their submission.

It may be fairly quiet here for some time, as we move forward in getting the five titles we selected ready for publication. If you want to see pictures of these beautiful books as I send orders out to their new readers, you can find that on our instagram, @paper.nautilus.

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Thank you for your patience as I’ve read and re-read and deliberated over these manuscripts since May. While I know I say how hard it is to decide every year, the 2018 contest yielded nearly double the entries we’ve gotten in any of our past contests. This made for a much larger time commitment than previous years, and also impossible decisions to make. Of the 170 we received for the Debut Series, even narrowing it down to a list of 19 (the 10% named as finalists, plus two winners) was daunting and difficult. Please know that, if you do not see your name below, it is still certainly likely that I really admired your work.

Winners
Looking For What Isn’t There – Andres Rojas
What City – Meredith Boe

Finalists (In order in which they were received)
Hurricane Matthew – Shevaun Brannigan
The Cure for Loneliness – Lindsay Fowler
Fade – Jennifer Colatosti
Alligator Chronicles – Melissa Varnavas
The Housewife Chronicles – Ruth Goodwin
Schoolboys – Jack Cooper
Double-edged – dave ring
sometimes I think about my exes & wonder how their dogs are doing – Alyssa Oursler
Snapshots – Bruce Johnson
habibi – Maya Salameh
Intersections – Kameron Ray Morton
First Light – Miriam German
Hall Pass for a Dead Girl – Megan Neville
Grief in the Shape of Infinity – Kathy Kehrli
Too Many Moons – Linnea Harper & Stephen A. Levin
Flamingo City – Giovanna Varela
You, Me, and Mitochondrial Eve – Brandon Hansen

Please join me in congratulating these writers for their extraordinary work. I expect to have more exciting news in the next week or two regarding the Vella Chapbook results, too. Thanks again to all who shared their writing with me these past several months.

Just a quick update

September 2, 2018

I hope everyone’s summer has been delightful, and that you are enjoying these last few weeks of it. I’ve been getting some email inquiries on chapbook submissions, and just want to reassure everyone. If your submission is in “Received,” it doesn’t mean I haven’t read or opened it, but rather than I haven’t used the comments or tagging or voting feature (and because I’m the only editor, I don’t always use those features, or will read something several times before I do). We did get nearly DOUBLE the submissions we typically receive — well over 400 — so results may be announced later than usual: hopefully by mid-October. I figured it would be best to make a note of my process and the current status, so that people who aren’t contacting me directly aren’t worrying silently. This is a process I take seriously and don’t want to rush, so I really appreciate your patience, especially when it can be so hard to wait to hear back! Thanks again for trusting me with your important work.

We are so excited to announce the release of Geoff Andersons’s Humming Dirges, the second of two 2017 Debut Series Chapbook Winners to be released this year, now available for order! You can purchase a copy here, or under the books menu, where you may find a few other titles you’d like to pick up. Please also consider checking out Geoff’s website, to find out about events and any other future publications.

His poems received the following praise:

“Anderson possesses a sniper’s eye for detail, filling his poems with taut, after-the-shot tension, which is not a feeling one expects in the parade of neighborhood tales through which he explores the ubiquitous political nature of families or the constantly morphing lessons of loss. Which is not to say this is a collection of haunting dread. There is a joy that moors the reader throughout, making Humming Dirges a collection of art that sorely wants to pick up the pieces it breaks off of you. In Anderson’s world the challenge isn’t simply that nothing is as it at appears, but that there is a lesson in every inch of each tale, even the puzzles missing pieces. Each of the poems presented in Humming Dirges bends to Anderson’s effortless strength at making any seemingly innocent moment turn on a dramatic, sometimes horrible dime. Simply put, Anderson possesses one of the surest, most steady hands I’ve seen commit an act of modern poetry.”
Scott Woods, author of Urban Contemporary History Month and We Over Here Now

* * * *

“Geoff Anderson makes perfect poems. Emotionally-complicated and precisely-wrought, with images so sharp they might cut you open with their textures, the poems in Anderson’s Humming Dirges gift readers with an inside view of a family as it functions with the outside world and within itself. That is to say, Anderson uses the complexities of family to create a sometimes-uncomfortably accurate portrait of the society in which that family exists. And he’ll draw you in and make you one of his own for as long as the book lasts.”
Louise Robertson, author of The Naming Of and Teaching My Daughter My Language

* * * *

“These poems view the world with a keen reflective eye. They challenge us to rethink what we’ve assumed about ethnicity, about loss, about history–the histories we’re taught and the histories we live. With artful subtlety, Geoff leaves something distinctly other in the reader’s view: Other than common, other than black, than white, than pretense. Frank and delicious.”
Rose M. Smith, Senior Editor, Pudding Magazine

* * * *

As I was folding and sewing this collection, I couldn’t help but read through them one more time. These poems are compulsively readable, and the small moments captured here continue to quietly unfold with each reading. I hope you enjoy them.

Just as soon as this post is done, I’ll be returning my attention to reading the many chapbook submissions we received during our last reading period. I hope to have some news by September — and for anyone who ordered a back issue with your submission, I expect to have your copy mailed to you even sooner! And if you’re a submitter who is anxious about long stretches with no updates to our website, we post a bit more often on instagram than any other platform these days.

Thanks, all, and hope everyone is enjoying the summer.

Our Debut Series and Vella Chapbook Contests have closed as of midnight, and we have a total of 431 manuscript submissions: 171 for the Debut Series, and 260 for the Vella! I am overwhelmed with joy — and also, maybe just a little overwhelmed.

I am so grateful to everyone who has submitted their writing and decided to trust us with their words. Drafting, revising, compiling a manuscript, and then trusting a stranger to read it is no easy feat; Thank you for giving us a chance to read the results of all that work.

We still have two manuscripts from 2017 left to produce, with one of them being very close to ready. It is very important to me to get these released and out into the world as soon as possible, so be on the lookout for announcements on those two titles. Other than that, it may be fairly quiet here while I focus on reading — and preparing myself for some very difficult decisions.

We are so pleased to announce the release of Shankar Narayan’s Postcards from the New World, our first 2017 Debut Series Chapbook Co-Winner to be released this year, now available for order! You can purchase a copy here, or over under the books menu, where you may find a few other titles you’d like to pick up. Please also consider checking out Shankar’s website, to find out about readings and events he’s hosting in the future!

His poems received the following praise:

“These poems are wholly original and loaded with compassion, intellect, and lyric interrogation. Shankar Narayan’s Postcards from the New World explores proximity, intimacy, identity, violence, and diaspora with a knowing, prophetic allure. I love these poems for their epistemological underpinnings and their graceful invention. Gorgeous surprises fuel this wonderful debut. Fiercely talented and equally humane, Narayan is one of my favorite new poets.

Lee Herrick, Poet Laureate of Fresno, 2015-17

* * * *

“These poems meditate on connection and dissolution, construction and deconstruction, selves and societies. In a violent historical moment, when rupture and brokenness (the breaking of bodies and the breaking of the word) are so evident, these poems announce a belief that there is (there has to be) some good, some light from a new sun. Narayan writes that “Entanglement means/what happens to you happens/to me,” not just as cosmic fact but as an ethical binding of various selves—the constructed energies of the speaker (abused by the world, consumed by idealism), the inherited and problematic threads of the world (traditions as tethers to a faraway land, the violent and virulent racism of America). In a song driven by words from our moment, Narayan has given us a compelling series of poems that will be worthy of rereading.

Tod Marshall, Poet Laureate of Washington State, 2016-18

* * * *

We have two more powerful and exciting titles to release this season.

If you think you have a manuscript we might love, our annual contest ends May 15th. You can find all the details you need at our Submittable, or elsewhere on our website. We can’t wait to start thinking about what amazing works we’ll get to read soon!

And, if you happen to live near Salem, Massachusetts, Paper Nautilus will have a table at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival Book Fair! The festival as a whole runs Friday, May 4th, through Sunday, May 6th, with some amazing poets — including headliners like Sonia Sanchez, Kaveh Akbar, Dorianne Laux, and Rhina P. Espaillat. You can find Paper Nautilus, peruse our titles, ask questions, or just say hi on Saturday, May 5th, from 11 a.m – 4 p.m. Hope to see you there!

We are so pleased to announce the release of Victoria Moore’s Like Drowning, our second 2017 Vella Chapbook Co-Winner to be released this year, now available for order! You can purchase a copy here, or over under the books menu, where you may find a few other titles you’d like to pick up.

Her poems received the following praise:

Like Drowning walks the line between things said and not said. Moore’s language is sensual and honest, bittersweet, and as good as ‘sorghum on biscuits.’ Moore is an exciting new voice in poetry.”

J. Bruce Fuller, Wallace Stegner Fellow and Author of The Dissenter’s Ground

* * * *

“Subtle, earnest, moving, and profound, Like Drowning is the portrait of a relationship that has already ended. The book reads like one poem, one finely sustained moment of reflection, so once I started, I could not put it down.”

Blas Falconer, author of The Foundling Wheel

* * * *

We have three more powerful and exciting titles to release this season.

If you think you have a manuscript we might love, our annual contest begins February 15th — or in just a few hours! (As an aside, I’m glad I chose to open submissions each year on my birthday; seeing manuscripts start to roll in and eventually getting to read them is the best present to myself, I think.) You can find all the details you need at our Submittable once it’s open, or elsewhere on our website. We can’t wait to start thinking about what amazing works we’ll get to read soon!

We are so pleased to announce the release of Melissa Fite Johnson’s A Crooked Door Cut into the Sky, now available for order! You can purchase a copy here, or over under the books menu, where you may find a few other titles you’d like to pick up.

Her poems received the following praise:

“A Crooked Door Cut into the Sky is shot through with loss, with the ways our bodies fail us, and with what we can’t—or don’t say. The speakers are daughters, wives, not-mothers, and they occupy domestic spaces in which “nothing is missing.” Indeed, everything is present in Melissa Fite Johnson’s elegiac collection, even the empty spaces: a remembered father, the children not to be born, the past that is at once long-gone and not gone at all.”

Maggie Smith, author of Good Bones

* * * *

“Melissa Fite Johnson’s A Crooked Door Cut into the Sky is like a poetry photo album where poems appear like perfect snapshots of a life being lived. Johnson’s poems question “what it means to be human”—what we hold onto and what we let go. The narrative beauty of these poems lead us into a garden where  branches “quilt patterns into the sky”—the possibility of becoming a parent and the experience of losing one. This
chapbook grounds us in the past and present and connects the two worlds—leaving me thankful for this poet who opens the door for us to walk into her poems and join her.

Kelli Russell Agodon, author of Hourglass Museum

* * * *

This is the first of our 2017 winners to be ready, with four more to follow (and one likely within the next week or two).

If you think you have a manuscript we might love, our annual contest begins February 15th — that is just a little over ONE WEEK. You can find all the details you need at our Submittable once it’s open, or elsewhere on our website. We can’t wait to start thinking about what amazing works we’ll get to read soon!

 

During our 2017 submission period, we received almost 230 manuscripts: 87 for the Debut Series, and 141 for the Vella Series. As I’m sure I state every time, these decisions are so difficult, especially because there are so many excellent poems and stories, and they deserve to be told. I limit the Finalist list to roughly 10% of the submissions received in each category; my list of submissions that I had flagged as extraordinary and as serious possibilities for publication was over double that, at closer to a full quarter of the works received. This is all to say that, while we’re certainly celebrating the authors listed below, please also take a moment to celebrate your own work, and the value of your own words, even if I didn’t have room to take them on this year.

Please join me in congratulating the following winners and finalists of our 2017 contest reading period:

Debut Series Winners:
Humming Dirges – Geoff Anderson
Postcards from the New World – Shankar Narayan

Debut Series Finalists:
Bayna-Bayna, In-Between: Poems about Refugees and Loss – Zeina Azzam
Red and Vast – Kristi Carter
Peninsular Scar – Leah Claire Kaminski
Mobile Devices Can’t Smell Honeysuckle – John Meyers
What Paradise – Linda Michel-Cassidy
Never Leave the Foot of an Animal Unskinned – Sara Ryan
Onset – Kate Schultz
The Veteran’s Wife – Laura Budofski Wisniewski

Vella Winners:
A Crooked Door Cut into the Sky – Melissa Fite Johnson
After Bullet – Casandra Lopez
Like Drowning – Victoria Moore

Vella Finalists:
Two Good Ears – Leah Browning
Echo, Unravel – Amy Ash Callista Buchen
Protection – Jonathan Cardew
Triptychs on a White Belt – Yu-han Chao
Decants – Heidi Czerwiec
Terminating Physics [a reference guide] – Bryce Emley
A Small Book of Jumbies – Justin Haynes
23 Minutes to Midnight – Justin Jannise
the burgeoning world – Sonja Johanson
Erasing the Book of Pregnancy – Heather Lanier
The Belle of San Francisco – David Maduli
Pentimento – Alysse McCanna
Onset – Kate Schultz
Your Heroes for Ghosts – Eliot Khalil Wilson

My sincerest thanks to all who entered this year, and for the honor of being able to read your work.

Happy fall, folks! If you are the author of one of the 228 manuscripts we received between February and May for our annual chapbook contests, you may have been patiently (or perhaps less-than-patiently) waiting for results to be announced, since we estimated results to be ready by the end of September. This post is, sadly, not that announcement. However, we are getting very close and approaching a finalists list for each of the two categories. So, while I hesitate to give a specific date, we should have decisions announced soon. I know that it can be nerve-wracking to not hear about the status of a submission for so long — especially a manuscript — and so I wanted to offer this brief note as reassurance that the news shouldn’t be much longer, and that we are only a few weeks behind and really looking forward to getting the winning works published.

In the meantime, enjoy some recent accomplishments from some of our past contributors:

  • Meg Cowen (PN 11), Co-Editor and Co-founder of Pith and Kin Press, recently released this anthology of selections from the first year of the journal’s online issues. Also includes work from Nancy Chen Long (PN 11) (and yours truly). You can find it here.
  • Stephanie McCarley Dugger — who was a 2014 Vella Co-Winner — has her first full-length poetry collection available for pre-order here.
  • Charles Rafferty — a 2015 Vella Co-Winner — has had two poems in The Writer’s Almanac recently. You can find them here and here.

Thanks for your patience, and keep an eye out for some big announcements here soon.