We received nearly 220 submissions this year, making our selection incredibly tough. These decisions are difficult every year, and if we had unlimited resources, we would have accepted several more. Please join me in congratulating the writers below!

This year’s winners are:

Lecture – Chase Burke
Permanent Marker – Sarah Cooper
The Museum of Resentments – Amanda Hope
When I Think of the Randolph Mountains – Conor McNamara

Our Finalists include:

I-80 – Brett Biebel
Wanting – Emily Bieniek
Mayflies – Cassandra Caverhill
Wonders of a Distant World – Ja’net Danielo
Telling the Bees – Sara Eddy
An Untold History of Black – Ashley Evans
Radio Buttons – Erin Fletcher
A Kiss for the Misbehaved – Jessica Lynne Furtado
Growth Response – Dena Igusti
Uncertain Elevators – Kristen Jackson
Androphobia – Samantha Lamph
Alchemy 37 – Lisa López Smith
Heirlooms: Stories – Alexander Luft
Allegheny Front – Lisa McMonagle
Gloom of Excruciating Desires – Olivia Pierce
Five Seconds to Skip Ad – Jacob Price
On Desire – Claire Robbins
Rooh – Maya Salemeh
Love, Mom – Cathryn Sherman
Cartography – Bassam Sidiki

And there are many more manuscripts we found memorable and were very fond of. Thank you to everyone who trusted us with their writing and gave us the opportunity to read their work.

We hope to have announcements for the Vella Chapbook Contest posted in the near future!

We are so excited to announce the release of Ananda Lima’s Translation, our final 2018 Vella Chapbook Winner 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.

These poems received the following praise:

There is so much unbridled joy and pained tenderness in Ananda Lima’s Translation. Inspired by the poet Nathaniel Mackey and the musician Caetano Veloso, her verse streams effortlessly down the page, plaiting English with Portuguese, as Lima sings of the thrills and terrors of her new life in America, the pleasures of motherhood, and what she inherited from her family. Her voice is singular and wise and fresh. I love the poems in this chapbook.
Cathy Park Hong

Ananda Lima’s Translation is as much a mother’s grappling with how to raise her son amid the danger and violence of today’s America as it is an investigation of a daughter’s inherited, migrant Brazilian past. Lima’s poetry has the rare power to let us feel and “know the terror” of the present moment, while reflecting on and ancestry and passing on familial legacy to the next generation. Her poems aren’t afraid to “shout ‘I’m an American citizen’ ” across borders and languages, while shattering the security of presumed identity and recognizing both the precarity and privilege of citizenship. Piercing and poignant, Lima’s voice and music stay with you, “undisturbed / by wind or water, there will always remain/ a footprint” guiding your way home.
Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach

Lá na Bahia or on the 7 train, Ananda Lima’s poems house a stillness that moves gracefully on the page. Translation is altruistic in its soft haunt, its fleshly reminder that our daily self-discoveries are just the bones of ancestors waking for attention. The collection is a sun of moments gathered to greet us when and, wherever we may land after a long day of feeling like “other.”
Shauna Barbosa

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This wraps up our new titles from the 2018 contests — but we might have some surprises in the works over the next few months! And as always this time of year, we’re spending every spare minute with the 350+ manuscripts we received for 2019.

We are so excited to announce the release of Meredith Boe’s What City, our final 2018 Debut Series Chapbook Winner 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.

These stories and essays received the following praise:

“Moving with deft concision from location to location, this collection of eight pieces of brief prose feels like wandering through a city and stumbling upon treasure: a geocache of place and its associated feeling–not just where things happen, but how and why they matter. The stories leave the reader with a soft illumination, the way ‘lightning bugs emerge from a blanket of black sky.'”

Kathleen Rooney, author of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

“In What City Meredith Boe’s prose inhabits neighborhoods of circumstance and memory. These essays delicately navigate love, loss, and moments of being, tracking terrains both intimate and urban. What city? Her city.”

Barrie Jean Borich, author of Apocalypse, Darling and Body Geographic

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Be on the lookout for our final release from the 2018 chapbook contests: a poetry collection from Ananda Lima. In the meantime, we’re slowing making our way through the enormous stack of outstanding manuscripts we received for 2019!

We are so excited to announce the release of Robin Littell’s Flight, the second of three 2018 Vella 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.

These short stories are compact and lyrical, filled with wonder and a hint of the absurd. Each failed garden, bank heist, and second-hand heart for sale helps us to explore human relationships in a new way, with careful attention to language and image throughout.

Robin Littell holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Miami University. Her stories can be found in Tin House, Two Hawks Quarterly, Literary Mama, Mud Season Review, Found Polaroids, Adanna, and others. More work is forthcoming in Fiction Southeast. Robin lives and writes in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Be on the lookout for our next release, a short prose collection from Meredith Boe, coming up very soon!

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

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“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

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“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

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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 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.

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“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 so pleased to announce the release of Anita Olivia Koester’s, Arrow Songs, 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.

Koester’s poems received the following praise:

Arrow Songs is what becomes of Cupid’s arrow once the target has been hit and the flesh is open to receive — it is the body in the rapture and injury of love. There is music throughout — repetition, refrains, alliteration, that assonance that keens, the grief that seems to lullaby, the desire so insistent you listen, you follow, you let the beat shape you. In these heartbreakingly beautiful poems “no one is ever lost, only transformed.
Arisa White

We have two more chapbooks to release this year, one of which is currently part-assembled in my living room, and awaiting its hand-stitched binding.

If you think you have a manuscript we might love, our annual contest 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!

One final thought: if you are in Salem, Massachusetts or the surrounding area next week, please consider checking out the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, May 5th – 7th, which will have some wonderful workshops, readings, a small press fair, and a lot of wonderful people. Hope to see some of you there!

We are so pleased to announce the release of Eloisa Amezcua’s, Symptoms of Teething, 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.

Amezcua’s poems received the following praise:

Here is a book of poems that is, at every turn, deeply invested in the kinds of love we share—with each other, with ourselves, with our pasts, and with our futures. In one moment, “we fall asleep / and there is no more falling.” In the next, the morning where “we fabricate each / other into being.” I am so grateful to Eloisa Amezcua for all her fabrications, for building us this little museum of love.
Kaveh Akbar, Calling a Wolf a Wolf

We have three more chapbooks to release this year, with two titles very close to release

If you think you have a manuscript we might love, our annual contest 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!