2019 Book Competition Results

The CSU Poetry Center is excited to announce the results of our 2019 book competitions. The following five books were selected for publication from nearly 1,000 manuscripts. Thank you to everyone who sent us work.


Winner of the First Book Poetry Competition
Judge: Brenda Hillman
Alen Hamza’s Exit Empire, forthcoming September 2020

Alen Hamza
immigrated to the United States from Bosnia-Herzegovina as a refugee. He has received fellowships from the Michener Center for Writers and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Believer, Fence, Narrative, Diagram, The Southern Review, The Iowa Review, Crazyhorse, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere. He’s pursuing a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Utah, where he serves as poetry editor for Quarterly West.

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Editor’s Choice Selection (First Book)
Shelley Feller’s Dream Boat, forthcoming September 2020

Shelley Feller grew up figure skating across the Midwest. They hold an MFA in poetry from the University of Alabama, and are currently pursuing a PhD in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory University. Their work can be found in Interim, Puerto del Sol, Sycamore Review, and elsewhere.

Judge’s Honorable Mentions
CL Young’s Retrograde Interior; Bronwen Tate’s The Silk the Moths Ignore.

First Book Finalists:
Kanika Agrawal’s Okazaki Fragments; Steve Barbaro’s Plane of Consummate Finitude; Travis Brown’s In the Village That Is Not Burning Down; Ashley Chambers’s The Exquisite Buoyancies: A Sonography; Shelley Feller’s Dream Boat; Binswanger Friedman’s The Four Color Problem; Clare Jones’s It only seems that way; Colleen O’Brien’s Reel; Sara Lupita Olivares’s Migratory Sound; Nicholas Regiacorte’s American Massif; Robert Yerachmiel Sniderman’s MELEKH!MELEKH!MELEKH!MELEKH! An Assimilation; Jay Thompson’s Like Honey; Devon Walker-Figueroa’s Lazarus Species; Emma Winsor Wood’s Preferred Internal Landscape.

First Book Semi-Finalists
Christopher Adamson’s Arguments for the Pit; Danielle Badra’s Like We Still Speak; Chelsea Balzer’s fruit diaries; Kerry Banazek’s You, Siphon; Madeleine Barnes’s You Do Not Have To Be Good; Julie Phillips Brown’s The Adjacent Possible; K.M. English’s WAVE SAYS; Maria Flaccavento’s 108 Olivia; Margaret Foley’s Keel; Matthew Girolami’s Fire Regime; Eric Komosa’s Like You Are Breathing; Christopher Murray’s Black Observatory; Rachel Mindell’s No Miracle ; Alleliah Amabelle Nuguid’s Prodigal Daughter; Jessica Reed’s White Thread into Stone; Brandon Rushton’s The Air in the Air Behind It; Dennis James Sweeney’s In the Antarctic Circle; Mars Tekosky’s The Catherine Wheel; Kate Thorpe’s The Marriage of Art and Industry; Shelley Wong’s As She Appears.


Winner of the Open Book Poetry Competition
Judges: Nicholas Gulig, Dora Malech, & Sheila McMullin
Valerie Hsiung’s outside voices, please, forthcoming September 2021

Poet, performer, and sound artist, Valerie Hsiung is the author of four previous poetry collections: YOU & ME FOREVER (Action Books, 2020), e f g (Action, 2016), incantation inarticulate (O Balthazar Press, 2013), and under your face (OBP, 2013). Her poems can be found in or are forthcoming from dozens of publications, including The Nation, The Believer, jubilat, Chicago Review, PEN America, The Rumpus, Poetry Northwest, Denver Quarterly, and beyond. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the recipient of the 2019 Kay Murphy Prize, she has performed her little poetry theater at Treefort Music Festival, DC Arts Center, Common Area Maintenance, Casa Libre en la Solana, Shapeshifter Lab, and The Silent Barn. Born and raised by Chinese-Taiwanese immigrants in southern Ohio, Hsiung now divides her time between Brooklyn and Hudson.


Editor’s Choice Selection (Open Book)
Lauren Shapiro’s Arena, forthcoming September 2020

Lauren Shapiro is the author of Easy Math (Sarabande, 2013), which was the winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize and the Debut-litzer Prize for Poetry, as well as a chapbook of poems, Yo-Yo Logic (DIAGRAM/New Michigan Press, 2011). With Kevin González, she co-edited The New Census: An Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry (Rescue Press, 2013). Recent poems have appeared in jubilat, Boston Review, Copper Nickel, Bennington Review, Columbia Poetry Review, New Ohio ReviewDIAGRAM, and Forklift, Ohio. She is an assistant professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University. [Photo credit: Heidi Wiren Bartlett].

Open Book Finalists
Carrie Olivia Adams’s Setting Fire; Emily Bludworth de Barrios’s For Dorothy in the Dark; Carrie Bennet’s Expedition Notes; Lily Brown’s Blade Work; Rachel Galvin’s Uterotopia; Claire Hero’s The Raw & The Cooked; Dennis Hinrichsen’s This is Where I Live I Have Nowhere Else To Go; Genevieve Kaplan’s blueroombrowngreenrooms; Danielle Pafunda’s Along the Road Everyone Must Travel; Lauren Shapiro’s Arena; Larissa Szporluk’s Virginals; Gale Thompson’s Dummy Prayer.

Open Book Semi-Finalists
Sarah Boyer’s Home is the Proudest of All Institutions; Molly Brodak’s The Cipher; Stella Corso’s Driving; Mary Crow’s Begin with a Stepped Pyramid; Darren Demaree’s a child walks in the dark; C. Violet Eaton’s Cant; Jennifer Habel’s The Book of Jane; Rochelle Hurt’s Screen Tests for [ ] Girls; Josh Kalscheur’s Picture of Health; Justin Marks’s If This Should Reach You In Time; Jessica Marsh’s Dysmorphelia; Kent Shaw’s Gigantic; Robert Thomas’s Sonnets with Carpenter and Dirty Snow; Laura Wetherington’s Parallel Resting Places.

Winners of the Essay Collection Competition
Judge: Hanif Abdurraqib
Brenda Miller & Julie Marie Wade’s Telephone: Essays in Two Voices, forthcoming September 2021

Brenda Miller teaches in the creative writing program at Western Washington University. Her memoir-in-essays, An Earlier Life (Ovenbird Books, 2016), won the Washington State Book Award for Memoir, and her creative nonfiction has received six Pushcart Prizes. Julie Marie Wade teaches in the creative writing program at Florida International University. Her most recent collections are The Unrhymables: Collaborations in Prose (Noctuary Press, 2019), co-authored with Denise Duhamel, and Same-Sexy Marriage: A Novella in Poems (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2018). Miller and Wade’s collaborative essays have appeared in Creative NonfictionThe Georgia Review, The Kenyon ReviewThe Normal SchoolRiver TeethTupelo Quarterly, and in two recent anthologies of contemporary collaborative work.

Essay Collection Finalists
Leora Fridman’s Static Place; Mariko Nagai’s Bodies of Empire; Liza Porter’s Bruce Springsteen Sang to Me; Catherine Theis’s L’Avventura; Vivian Wagner’s Everyday Carry; Nicole Walker’s Who Would We Animals Be If Not For Animals You?.