Poetry and Short Story Contests

Announcing our 2024 POETRY & SHORT STORY contest winners!

Fiction: “The Invisibles,” by Masha Shukovich

from judge Allison Wyss: “I love the shape and the radiance of “The Invisibles,” how every vivid and lyrical image returns, reconfigured, to accumulate both meaning and magic. And how, through the story’s particular logic (which is not reason but something stranger and wiser), we can almost wrap our brains around a mystery that is dark and terrifying–war, family, death–but no we can’t. We can never fully grasp it, and that is purposeful, a crucial aspect of the story’s devastating truth. But in the final moment–that flinging of gold teeth into the sky–there is such beauty and hope.”

Masha Shukovich (she/they) is a writer, storyteller, folklorist, neurodivergent person, and a brown immigrant from a country that no longer exists. Her ancestral and indigenous roots are in the Balkans; the Mediterranean; and West, Central and Northeast Asia. Masha’s awards include the 2022 Rick DeMarinis Short Story Award, 2022 Page Turner Mentorship Award, and the 2022 Courage to Write Writers of Note Award, among others. Masha’s work was recently shortlisted for The Masters Review’s Anthology; First Pages Prize; and Fractured Lit’s Legends, Myths, & Allegories Prize. She is at work on a novel and a collection of short stories. Masha’s writing is inspired by the lived experiences of people like themselves: humanimals, shapeshifters, and apparent outsiders who seem to belong nowhere and everywhere. Masha lives and writes on the land colonially known as the Salt Lake Valley and online at http://www.mashashukovich.com/. Instagram: @mashawrites

Poetry: “Odysseus’ Apology to Laertes,” by Anastasios Mihalopoulos

from judge Douglas Manuel: From its first psychologically heavy line, “Some men raise their sons with fists,” “Odysseus’ Apology to Laertes” had me. The resolution of this evocative opening with the surprising prepositional phrase “of smoke” in the second line only endeared me closer to this speaker. This poem adroitly displays father/son drama with a mature understanding that rang true in Homer’s times and still echoes today. Good poems demand to be read again. I’m going to read “Odysseus’ Apology to Laertes” again right now.

Anastasios Mihalopoulos is a Greek/Italian-American from Boardman, Ohio. He received his M.F.A. in poetry from the Northeast Ohio MFA Consortium and his B.S. in both Chemistry and English from Allegheny College. His work has appeared in Blue Earth ReviewWest Trade ReviewErgonThe Decadent Review, and elsewhere. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of New Brunswick.

2025 Contest Guidelines (submissions open ~Sept 10):

  • Fiction: one story or linked short-shorts (7000 words max)
  • Poetry: 1-5 poems, ten pages max
  • Winners receive: $250 each and publication in Prism Review
  • Contest deadline: midnight, November 30. All entries are considered for publication; all entrants receive the issue featuring the winning works.


Prior Winners


Fiction: Treena Thibodeau, “Good Bodies”

Judge Kiik Araki-Kawaguchi: “ I am so impressed by “Good Bodies,” and the way it throws a dozen exciting questions into the air, juggles them, and then stacks the responses elegantly in just a few thousand words. Will Oona’s affair be discovered? Will Mick’s anxiety spill out onto the alley? Will Kaia leave Ben? Will Oona ever bowl again? Will The Pinnacles take home the title? Even if some questions feel more central than others to the reader, each character is grappling with their own insecurities and disasters. Every character also has a unique superpower (whether it be will or humor or forgiveness) that allows them to pierce through the everyday shrapnel thrown their way. It’s a dark and humorous and beautiful world contained in these pages.” 

Poetry: Kevin Griffin, “Shift”

Judge Leah Huizar: “In “Shift” the confluence of jazz and poetry make a music that feels its way through the terrors and pains of racial injustice, past and present. Readers are invited to listen and remember. Listen to how John Coltrane’s “Alabama” unwinds in memorial for the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. Listen to the ways that the language of poetry, too, can ring in readers minds at those “conjunctions pregnant with a bomb” and send its hearers into new territories of reckoning. This is a poem which invites reading aloud to experience all its lyric intensity and offerings.”



Fiction: Julian Ramirez, “Miracle Hunting”

Judge Carribean Fragoza: “Miracle Hunting” is a deft accomplishment in uncovering fresh perspectives of the world and tapping into sources of wonder in the mundane. Every sentence carefully carves new dimensions into the world as it is revealed through the observant eyes of a young boy surrounded by the minor and not-so-minor mysteries of his grandmother’s circle of friends. Amidst the seeming endlessness, even in boredom of the everyday -telenovelas, naps, and warm soda – the story meditates on the nature of miracles and invites readers to consider their existence in the most ordinary places. The boy also becomes a seeker of new miracles with which to replenish the wonder that gives new life to the circle of elderly women, his family and his own sense of agency. “Miracle Hunting” invites readers to reconsider the wondrous in the commonplace.”

Poetry: Kay Lin, “Myopia”

Judge Felicia Zamora: “The intersections of being, of lineage, of familial and cultural pressures, of queerness, and of carving one’s own path, all converge in “Myopia.” History impacts the present as the poem moves from an epigraph with the lines of a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony from 420-589 AD into the rumination on expectations and worth of women in arranged marriages. The voice notes, “thirty million leftover men in china” and recalls, “if you were pickier, your mother warned, she would/ sell you off to them, ten thousand renminbi per/ kilogram.” Considerations of socioeconomic class as well as humor and defiance weave throughout this poem. The voice’s journey is riddled with ache and fraught with obstacles to embrace one’s identities—from familial threats of being “sold” into marriage, to performance of heteronormative dating that culls at the voice, to meeting the she-character who holds “a whole new universe in her eyes” and the fluttering of pulses, to the dissolving of such dreams of marriage for the voice and the she-character. This poem ripples with the difficulties that many BIPOC and queer individuals face today: the desire to be embraced, fully, in the external and internal worlds.”


Fiction: David Borofka, “Retirement Dogs”

Judge Vanessa Hua: “This is a poignant and wry story about a woman who flees her marriage and comes back home to take care her ailing mother. Clear eyed, intimate, and unforgettable.”

Poetry: Maria Zoccola, “letters from ophelia”

Judge Lynne Thompson: “This poem is assured in its momentum as well as in the music of that momentum. Where it is recognizable, it is comforting; where it is surprising, it blew the top of my head off. In the best way, I never took a breath while reading it aloud (repeatedly), and in the end, I was left gratefully gasping for air.”



Judge Michelle Brittan Rosado: “In “Only Two,” the speaker transforms the difficulty of communicating into a charmingly awkward dance of pairs. These (mis)matchings include the Spanish and Portuguese spoken respectively by the customer and shopkeeper; the unnamed city’s buildings appearing “blue against blue, pink against cream”; and the imagined “two small cups on a plate” as metaphor for the speaker and their lover. This poet reminds us of the inadequacy of language to capture the true experience, even as it assures us that we can be both “failed and triumphant.” ”


Judge Aurelie Sheehan: ““Porter Must Be Stopped” could not be stopped. The language tumbles and collides and crests and takes a breath and rolls in again, and somehow all the world is poised and spinning on the fingertip of a storyteller for our pleasure. The story relies on and is in service to beauty—it conjures beauty out of thin air.”


Fiction: “Avian Duties,” by Courtney McDermott

“Avian Duties” is at once a fantastic glimpse into the slippery strangeness of desire and a deeply intimate exploration of what it means to create something new. I couldn’t stop reading.”

– judge Emily Geminder, author of Dead Girls and Other Stories

Poetry: “Situation Normal,” by Lisa Maria Martin

“Situation Normal” reminds us to question the decisions we make, to carefully consider what it means to live in this “American” moment. The poem’s borrowed language, observations, and continual defining of appropriate behavior are grounded by the lyric “I.” However, the poem does not shy away from con fronting “we” and “you,” the readers who will ultimately participate in the actualness of the world the poem describes.”

– judge Genevieve Kaplan, author of In the ice house

Author bio: Lisa Maria Martin is a Latina poet whose work has appeared in Pleiades, Indiana Review, Crab Orchard Review, and others. Raised in Virginia, she earned an MFA at Cornell, and currently lives in Boston with her partner and dogs. She tweets about poetry and politics at @redsesame.


Judged by Siel Ju (fiction) and Jared Stanley (poetry)

  • Fiction: “Flight,” by David Borofka
  • Poetry: “Promise to Recede,” by Jessica Morey-Collins


Judged by Sean Bernard (fiction) and Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer (poetry)

  • Fiction: “Lake Junaluska” by Matthew Everett
  • Poetry: “Mt. Everest is” by Jonathan Greenhause


Judged by Bryan Hurt (fiction) and Victoria Chang (poetry)

  • Fiction: “Messiah Complex” by Michael Olin-Hitt
  • Poetry: “Slow Motion Landscape” by Sam Gilpin


Judged by Sean Bernard (fiction) and Jen Hofer (poet and translator)

  • Fiction: “Sweeping Glass” by Matthew Di Paoli
  • Poetry: “Your Place, Now” by JLSchneider


Judged by Scott Nadelson (fiction) and Nathan Hoks (poetry)

  • Fiction: “The Evaluation of Echoes” by Rob Schultz
  • Poetry: “[Flight Fable]” by Anna Soteria Morrison


Judged by Sandra Ramos O’Briant (fiction) and Karen An-hwei Lee (poetry)


Judged by Amy Newlove Schroeder, author of The Sleep Hotel, the 2009 winner of the Field Prize in Poetry.

  • Poetry: Nancy Hewitt, “Pressed”


Judged by Lucy Corin (fiction) and Craig Santos Perez (poetry)

Mary Ann Davis is a PhD Candidate in the Department of English and the Program in Gender Studies at the University of Southern California, where she’s been the recipient of a Moses Poetry Award and the James Prize for Best Critical Essay. Prior to USC, she earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan, where she received an Avery Hopwood Award in poetry.