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!

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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 Andres Rojas’s Looking For What Isn’t There, the first of two 2018 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.

These poems received the following praise:

“These colorful swaths of memory and lost language have their own smart beauty, forced open like an amaryllis in winter to enrich and warm the heart. Andres Rojas’ poems feel like rare birds migrating through a drizzled landscape, surprising and subtle and transformational all at once. What a remarkable pleasure it is to read each one.”

D.A. Powell

“Reading Looking For What Isn’t There, I remember the feeling of encountering Andres Rojas’s poems for the first time; I’m right back in that electric headspace. This poet is not walking a worn path, not echoing anyone else’s voice. Each metaphor,each line—“the radio waves/ lobster-boiled in the censored air”; “a boulevard/ of moonlight on water”—feels both brand-new and full of deep, hard-won wisdom. What a balancing act! I know I’ll return to these poems again and again.”

Maggie Smith

“The poems of Andres Rojas are succinct, pared down to the essentials: crystalline phrasing, striking imagery. His language, though concise, reveals and complicates longing and exile: ‘What we can’t miss /makes us whole.’ Among the sorrow, the necessity of insight urgently blooms. Empathy allows us to see ‘[a] skeletal Ford. [i]ts vaguely human form.’”

Eduardo C. Corral

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We just closed submissions for our annual contests a few hours ago, at midnight on April 20th. We received 360 submissions, and are looking forward to reading them (and, while bittersweet, perhaps looking forward a little less enthusiastically at how difficult these decisions will be). Be on the lookout for our next release, a short fiction collection from Robin Littell, coming up very soon! In the meantime, we hope this cruelest month is being kind to all of you.

We are so excited to announce the release of Rage Hezekiah’s Unslakable, the first 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. Please also consider checking out Rage’s website, to find out about events and any other future publications.

Her poems received the following praise:

“How can we say what was once unsayable and then learn to see beyond it? And beyond that seeing, can we dare to move beyond it—and live on our own terms? Rage Hezekiah’s Unslakable takes up this challenge with fierce compassion and a vital, human grace born of having lived and witnessed—and then gone farther. In that way, we can read the title, Unslakable, at once as description, challenge, and difficult desire. “First/you teach the child/what it is to drown/so she’ll know/to save herself” writes Hezekiah. These poems embody the process of walking with the strange weight of history – both personal and cultural – but these poems also carry us through the process of opening ourselves to self-love. Hezekiah’s courageous and thoughtful voice invites us all to rethink those big yet intimate issues: family legacy, sexuality, identity, and power. More than just response, reaction, or counterpoise, Unslakable claims and creates new space for the strength of one woman of color’s body – and vision – and spirit – in our world.”

-Aaron Coleman, author of St. Trigger, and Threat Come Close

“Startling and brutal in its clarity, Unslakable takes on multiple violences lived in an individual body – the trauma of a childhood with an alcoholic parent, the intergenerational inheritance of slavery and racism, the echo of every heartbreak. This is a collection brimming with quiet, the kind of raucous quiet full of unspoken things. Hezekiah’s poems don’t look away from painful memories, instead facing them head-on with unremitting tenderness. No detail is spared, these concise poems shake with emotion, insisting on naming the past and thereby carving a future, “punishing the silence of no one to blame.” In her poems, sharp-angled pain and hard-won human wisdom are held alongside the barbed beauty of the natural world: gardens of memory, birth and decay, the ocean as ever-present witness of a life lived by the water. In these poems are friendship, lovers, science, anatomy, longing, resilience, and “history’s/ detritus.” And, above all, desire, the unslakable, liberatory desire of a poet laying claim to the agony and beauty of a life, and telling us “I want it all for as long as it will last.”

-Mónica Gomery, author of Of Darkness and Tumbling and Here is the Night and the Night on the Road

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We are currently accepting chapbook manuscripts until April 20th — just over a month left! — and cannot wait to see what startling and powerful work we get to publish this time next year. In the meantime, keep an eye out for four more titles to be released over the next few months.

Surprise! After several years of opening our chapbook contests on February 15th, we have decided to move the date a little earlier. We will be accepting chapbook contest entries from January 20 – April 20, 2019. This is because we have two wonderful interns helping Paper Nautilus this year, and we wanted to make the production schedule align a little more closely with the Spring semester. We’re not yet sure if this will be a permanent shift, but I feel really lucky to have such intrepid and insightful students working alongside me (and more about them soon)!

As always, we are seeking chapbook manuscripts of poetry, fiction, literary non-fiction, or any combination or hybridization of the above. You can find more detailed guidelines for the Debut Series Contest and the Vella Contest in the menu at the top of the page, or on our Submittable.

Some small changes from the previous year:

– In the past, a submitter could pay a slightly higher (+$3) fee and also receive a back issue of Paper Nautilus; this option still exists, but instead of a back issue, it will be a random chapbook title from our catalog. (We are almost completely SOLD OUT of Paper Nautilus issues; as soon as we have the time and an appropriate plan, I really want to get the work from these available online or in another format — but, one thing at a time!)

– Debut Series are now done in a perfect-bound format, like a standard paperback. Previously, the Debut Series winners had their books published in hand-bound editions. I loved having a DIY element and getting to fold and hand-stitch each copy (not sarcasm; I really found it relaxing!), but it was much more time-intensive, and also became harder to insure consistency in paper stock, etc., across the different titles.

I always find it so exciting to have a new batch of manuscripts start coming in. I can’t wait to see what powerful writing we get to read this year. I hope to read your work soon!

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.

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.

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.