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.

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!

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.

We are overjoyed to release our final chapbook from our 2016 contest, a Debut Series Co-Winner: Jessica Kim’s “These, Our Bodies.” These poems are at once luminous, hard-wrought, and tender. Jessica is also a talented in visual work, and is the cover’s photographer and graphic designer, making this a truly gorgeous book, inside and out.

You can order a copy here directly, or also look around our Books section, to see if any of our other great titles catch your eye.

You can also see more at our fledgling Instagram, @paper.nautilus (which, for this 30-something millennial, is more intuitive than Twitter), where we share a few more insights to our bookmaking process, day-to-day tasks of being an editor, and shout-outs to former contributors and editors doing great things.

Now that all five of our new titles this year have been published and released, I’ve turned my attention more towards reading the 2017 chapbook entries. While I still have quite a ways to go on the 228 entries we received across categories, I can already tell there are going to be some very difficult decisions. Stay tuned, and hopefully we’ll have some exciting news to share about the results by sometime this September!

We are so pleased to announce the release of John Miller’s Heat Lightning, 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.

Miller’s poems received the following praise:

“At the crux of John Miller’s poetry is a search for heat as a way “to know the origin of desire.” This yearning is rooted in the physical world and complicated by empathy for even the most unpleasant places (the site of a bridge demolition) and most unlikable fellow-travelers (late-night partiers singing karaoke). This is the voice of a poet searching for what he knows he won’t find, who “lean[s] into the stinging rain / straining to glimpse / what would teach us to die.” These are beautiful, beautiful poems.”

Lauren Goodwin Slaughter, author of a lesson in smallness, recipient of the 2012 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, Editor-in-Chief at PoemMemoirStory.

* * * *

“John Miller’s debut collection is deft, adroit–downright beautiful. The wise old cormorant Coleridge teaches that poetic genius unleashes via the balance or reconciliation of opposition. Around every corner in these elegantly crafted poems, Miller’s balance beam brain beckons, reconciles, gets shook, stays lit up. Tenacity; desire and hope in equipoise; deific baritone! From haunting to jaunty to moving, what’s clever rams into what’s wise again and again. These days so many poems dance us and demand that we are impressed with their sway. Miller’s debut steps a full fathom farther: these are the generous, subtle musics that linger in your ear.”

Abraham Smith, author of Ashagalomancy; Only Jesus Could Icefish in Summer; Hank; and Whim Man Mammon.

We have just one more chapbook to release this year: another beautiful collection of poems that I can’t want to hand-stitch and have ready to share with all of you. Every once in a while, I share some progress shots of the assembly (and other writing-related moments) on our new-ish instagram.

If you think you have a manuscript we might love, our annual contest ends May 31st, 2017 — that is just ONE WEEK. You can find all the details you need at our Submittable. We hope to see your book release announcement here next year!

We are excited to announce the release of Michael Cuglietta’s chapbook, Clams in White Wine, 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.

Cugiletta’s collection of short fiction received the following praise from Jaimy Gordon, National Book Award winner for Lord of Misrule:

“An air of fly-by-night, strip mall, paycheck to paycheck impermanence laces the crafty short tales of this Florida writer, in which the one thing you can count on is good fast food — Szechuan dumplings, Cuban sandwiches with sweet fried plaintain, cream-piled cupcakes white brown and red. Michael Cuglietta’s characters at least know how to eat well in this anxious world. What to do with the anger, grief and loss lurking just under their place mats is another — no, the very same — story.”

Clams in White Wine is the first of our five 2016 chapbook contest winners to be released, with Eloisa Amezcua’s collection of poems, Symptoms of Teething, to follow soon.

If you think you have a manuscript we might love, we are one month into our annual contest, which ends May 31st, 2017. You can find all the details you need at our Submittable. We hope to see your book release announcement here next year!

I have been opening the Vella and Debut Series Chapbook Contests on February 15th for the past several years — which also happens to be my birthday. But this year, I just did have a chance to prepare in time, and that deadline came quietly. So it made me really happy that a few writers contacted Paper Nautilus and asked if we’d be accepting manuscripts this year. It felt like this pattern had become something people looked forward to, and that was a nice reminder of how much I enjoy doing this work.

Submissions opened yesterday, February 17, and will be open until May 31. You can submitt — or find all the details you’ll need on each of the contest categories — here.

Sadly, the annual issues of Paper Nautilus are on a hiatus. That doesn’t mean they’re permanently discontinued, but it does mean that we’re unable to juggle that project right now. My amazing staff who have been reading and voting on the submissions for the annual issues, have largely moved on to other stages of their lives where they can’t contribute as much anymore. It seems like the obvious solution to that is simply find more staff to serve as editors; my life has also shifted in a way where I don’t have as much time to devote to Paper Nautilus. I enjoy the work of the chapbooks so much more, and I also believe it has a more significant impact for the writer than publishing an individual work, which guided this decision. As I’ve noted in previous posts, it may also be time to reassess the publishing landscape, and figure out if a print periodical is the best way to support a writer’s work. So, more on this sometime, when I myself know more.

In the meantime, please tell the writers in your life to send their 16-24 page manuscripts of any and all literary genres our way!