Tag Archives: Black River Chapbook Competition

Fall 2012 Black River Chapbook Competition Finalists & Semi-Finalists

Here they are: the finalists & semi-finalists for the Fall 2012 Black River Chapbook Competition! Now that we have a short list to focus on, we’ll be announcing a winner from among the finalists in the next week or so. Many thanks to all who sent manuscripts our way; we were blown away by the submissions this time around!


 In the Village That Is Not Burning Down by Travis Brown
The Polychrome Clinic by Caroline Crew
A Necessary Erosion by Caleb Curtiss
The New Sorrow Is Less Than the Old Sorrow by Jenny Drai
Length of Fetch by Jesse Lichtenstein
Speak and Let the Serpent Crawl Out by Matthew Minicucci
Trace by Simone Muench
Canopy by Barbara Tomash


Dizzy Bridge Stories by Kevin Carey
Neverending Journey by Angela Jane Fountas
Two Stories by Otis Haschemyer
The Aquarium by Jen Knox
Oh My Darling by Cate Stevens-Davis
Another Demon Lober by Robley Wilson


Field Recordings by Brian Barker
machine gun villa by Lillian Bertram
The Oar by Sara Gelston
200 Moons by Charles Hood
Best Poems by Mike Krutel
Facts, and Other Things by Joel Lee
Songs of the Immortals by M. B. McLatchey
The Hollow More Than Shape Is Certain by Jill Osier


The Method by Aaron Apps
Klaus And Jill by John Colasacco
Thirteen Ways of Looking at Love, Flowers, and the Statue of Liberty by Dale Edmonds
Carter’s Orchard and Into the Big Smoke by Matt Hobson
The Secret Garden by James Musgrave
Where We Go When All We Were Is Gone by Sequoia Nagamatsu
Alone by Kathryn Shaver

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Charlotte Pence


********—Funeral sacrifice in Sulawesi, Indonesia, June 2011

The blood, too fresh for flies, a newly skinned
Skull left to dry, but otherwise this dulled
Dirt-patch where animals are sacrificed
Is just another piece of empty ground.

I’m ten thousand miles from where I grew up
By S.D. Johnson Elementary.
At recess, we would search for a kidnapped girl,
Also named Charlotte. We each hoped to get

Lucky and be the one to find her skull.
See, Dad would say, We’re all the same. Don’t act
So goody-goody. Who doesn’t wanna see
The fat behind skin? Watch a person die?

In front of me, the coffin shimmers under
The spread of red silk hand-stitched with one-inch
Mirrors. If I approached, I’d see pieces
Of myself. So, I watch a boy and his wiggly

Muscles struggling to lift a pig who’s strapped
To bamboo—its grill and grave. It thrashes out
Of its rope, which sends the men scrambling away.
And right when I cheer this pig’s escape, a warmth

Wets my leg as a machete opens a buffalo’s throat,
Its blood spraying like water from a sprinkler.
Dad loved to tell me what he could do with
A beer bottle’s broken neck. Take the glassed

Peaks to the throat:
********************It gives like a pillow.
I’m not a pillow, I’d say.
********************Not today.
Tell me whose neck you took the bottle to?
********************Homeless guy. By the river after I bought him
********************a beer. And what you need to remember, Miss
********************Goody Goody: No one ever noticed.

Q: What is your writing process?

A: There’s nothing fancy to my writing process: I close the door. And I get to it. Since I revise heavily, a draft is always waiting for me, which makes my office an inviting place.

Q: Is there an exciting poet (emerging or established) whose work you just discovered this year?

A: Joseph Harrington’s Things Come On: An Amneoir (Wesleyan University Press) is an exciting first book of poems. The book combines memoir and amnesia reflecting on the speaker’s mother’s breast cancer and the Watergate scandal. What I love about it is the inclusiveness; we have condolence cards, political transcripts, diary entries, etcetera, that all result in a tightly interwoven whole. I wrote about the book on my blog.

Q: If you could go on a one-week writing retreat anywhere in the world, where would you travel?

A: I adore writing residencies and have enjoyed a few month-long visits to residencies in Virginia (VCCA) and Costa Rica (The David and Julia White Artist Colony). If I could choose my dream residency, I would return to this tiny island in Malaysia that my husband and I visited a few years ago. It’s called Pulau Pehentian Besar. When the boat pulled up to our cove of six little thatched huts that didn’t have electricity or plumbing, I remember feeling giddy about the beauty and the isolation. There was nothing there but the sea and the sun and the palms. Our hut’s windows were simply holes. At night, we would swim to cool off, and the cove was full of ocean phosphorescence so that as we moved, our bodies sparked. Yes, that’s where I want to return and write.

Charlotte Pence is the editor of the newly released Poetics of American Song Lyrics (University Press of Mississippi). She also is the winner of the Black River Chapbook competition for The Branches, the Axe, the Missing, which will be released by Black Lawrence Press in May.

As Usual, We Picked A Good One

We’re pleased to report that Quiet Mountain Essays has published a glowing review of Perishables by Tina Egnoski. This fiction chapbook won the Fall, 2008 Black River Chapbook Competition “and as usual,” says the QME reviewer, “they picked a good one.”

This short story collection is filled with authentic Southern (think Floridian) voices, with each main character unselfconsciously sharing a slice of her life as she knows it to be, seemingly unaware of the poignancy and dignity with which she expresses it.
Something tells me that unlike the migrant friends of the title story, Egnoski (along with her cast of un-belle-like Southern gals) is here to stay.  I would happily read her next fresh offering…

Charlotte Pence Wins the Black River Chapbook Competition

The editors at Black Lawrence Press are very pleased to announce that Charlotte Pence has won the Black River Chapbook Competition for her manuscript Branches. Charlotte will receive $500 in prize money and a publication contract from BLP.

Charlotte Pence is a Ph.D. candidate in creative writing at the University of Tennessee and former editor of Grist: The Journal for Writers. She most recently received the 2009 Discovered Voices award from Iron Horse Literary Journal given to one graduate student in the country for poetry each year. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Kenyon Review Online, Prairie Schooner, North American Review, Denver Quarterly, RATTLE, Tar River, and many other journals. She also has an anthology forthcoming with University Press of Mississippi titled Lyrical Traditions: The Intersections Between Poems and Songs.

Many thanks to everyone who participated in the Black River Chapbook Competition and congratulations to all of the poets and writers who made it to the finalist rounds.



Sandra Kolankiewicz Reads In Ohio This Weekend

Sandra Kolankiewicz, Black River Chapbook Competition winner and author of Turning Inside Out, will read as part of the Evergreen Arts & Humanities Series this Saturday, November 6th, at 8 PM. Here’s the info:

About the Series

The Evergreen Arts & Humanities Series is poised to bring another year of quality programs that highlight locally, nationally and internationally acclaimed lecturers and performers to the Washington State Community College campus and the community at large. The Series strives to bring variety, diversity, information and entertainment to their audiences while remaining committed to programming appropriate for all ages and interests.

The Event

Nov. 6, 2010: An Evening with Creative Women of the Mid-Ohio Valley
Lecture: 8 p.m.
Poets Dr. Christina Veladota and Dr. Sandra Kolankiewicz and authors Nancy Pansing Wyman and Megan Krivchenia will read selections from their latest works in celebration of their recent publications.


Washington State Community College
710 Colegate Drive
Marietta, OH 45750


A Multi-Pointed Geometry of Attention

Janelle Adsit included a great review of Frank Montesonti’s A Civic Pageant in her chapbook roundup for The Pedestal. Here are some of our favorite sections:

This collection is a planet coincident with our own. As Montesonti orbits the Earth—sometimes from a plane, always from an elevated mind—he changes the light readers dwell in. A Civic Pageant has its own gravity. It pulls the detritus of our world in, spinning a varied assortment together. Prayer can take place over a jar of Miracle Whip. The baseball bat, the Devil, and rhubarb pie all exhibit a kind of patriotism. The book is well-stocked. In spellbinding lines, Montesonti can discuss “every 1930s French Novel” as well as dark matter theory. Ask the poet what the weight of the world is, and find not an answer but rather a rendering…

…His is a multi-pointed geometry of attention…

…Montesonti’s craft summons readers from habitual negligence. “[T]he world never runs out,” Montesonti writes. Let him convince you.

You can read the entire review here.

A Civic Pageant, winner of the Spring, 2007 Black River Chapbook Competition, is available from Black Lawrence Press and Amazon.

Black River Chapbook Competition Long List

Many congratulations to the people who have made it to the long list for the Spring, 2010 Black River Chapbook Competition. We will announce a short list and the winner of the competition before the end of the month. Drumroll, please…

Before the Rain – Jill Widner
Echolocation – Adam Hayden
First Service – Phillip Sterling
Frogs, Snakes, And All Of The Children – Barbara Milton
Guava Launchers – Stefanie Freele
How to Set a House on Fire – Stace Budzko
Iris In – Kryssa Schemmerling
Last Night – Charlotte Pence
Notebook of the Early Millennium – Jesse Nathan
Purgatory – Amelia Martens
Second Story of Your Body – Angela Hume
Sketches of Bodies at the Næsti Bar – Jane Varley
Slippage – Christopher Munde
Some Other Sort of Hunger – Nicole Reid
Stone Belly Girl – James Granger
Terra Australis – Lucas Street
The Company of Animals – Amy McCann
The Five Points of Performance – Chris Mohar
The Flasher – Adam Peterson
The Iron Mountain – Michael Haeflinger
The Other World – Cassie Schmitz
The Prince of Denmark – Jay Kauffmann
The Underwater Room – Jill Widner
The Woman We Imagine – Andrew Touhy
What to Make of a Diminished Thing – Marjorie Manwaring

These Are Earned Offerings

There is a new review of Turning Inside Out by Sandra Kolankiewicz in Quiet Mountain Essays. In the review, Suzanne Sunshower writes:

In each offering of this slim volume, Kolankiewicz seems to take a big bite out of some past life. She then mulls it over carefully, making a few judgements along the way. A reader has the feeling that this author has lived many lives (or at least a few), and has survived them all, intact, to tell their tales. These are earned offerings…

You can read the entire review here.

Turning Inside Out won the Fall, 2007 Black River Chapbook Competition. It is available from Black Lawrence Press and Amazon.

Congratulations to Helen Marie Casey

We are very pleased to report that Helen Marie Casey won The MacGuffin 14th National Poet Hunt Contest, judged by Thomas Lynch with her poem “Sprung Rhythm”. Helen’s poem, along with Mr. Lynch’s commentary, are featured in the Winter, 2010 issue of The MacGuffin.

Helen Marie Casey is the author of Inconsiderate Madness, winner of the Fall, 2005 Black River Chapbook Competition.

Inconsiderate Madness is available from Black Lawrence Press and Amazon.

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Sandra Kolankiewicz


At nearly four in the morning
I realized the house was singing
like a vibrating wire, as if someone
were strumming a string, a distant
melody I couldn’t quite hear
or ignore, as though the heavens were calling to me,
brightness of snow glaring through the window,
the cold air outside on fire.

Somewhere a planet was spinning as it turned a wide arc
through the blackness—
out beyond the low, dense clouds
hanging over the valley—
in spite of the steam
rising up from the chimneys,
the squirrels sleeping in the walls, the bats
silent in the eaves—

only that music in my head when all was quiet,
when the noise of the day turned from the night
toward the dawn, before the thrumming
and beating of persons in hallways, the rustling of papers,
clicking of keys, the car motors idling
in parking lots—in that moment prior
to the easing of the break, the pressure on the pedal,
the hands on the wheel.

Q: Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on the day you wrote the above poem?

A: The time was around 4 in the morning, and I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I had fallen asleep reading to my son, and my husband must have turned off the light in the room.  I lay there, listening to my son breathe, and the house as it  made a strange singing sound that was probably the response of its old clapboards to the 10 below weather outside.  The blind in the room was down, but in spite of that covering, there was so much snow in the yard that any light outside was reflected, and the window appeared lit from beyond.  I decided that I could either just think about writing a poem, or I could get out of bed and write one–so I threw on an old sweater, went into my daughter’s room to watch her sleep for a moment, then went upstairs to what I call ‘The Fort’ and wrote the poem.

Q: What is the last book you’ve read that made you want to grab a pen and write?

A: I recently acquired all of Black Lawrence Press’s poetry titles, and they are all so fantastic that they encourage me to commit the sincerest form of flattery and imitate them.  Any time of day or night, I pick up one of the books, read a poem or two, put it down, and pick up another book by a different author.  Such a range of voices!  Beyond that, the book 1491 made me write a few poems in response to its subject matter.  There was also an article in National Geographic about lungfish that inspired me.

Q: What is the most sublime meal you’ve ever eaten?

A: Rice and beans with diced avocado.  My husband and daughter would answer ‘steak.’  My son likes nothing better than pizza.

Sandra Kolankiewicz is the Fall 2007 winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition with her manuscript Turning Inside Out, available for purchase at Black Lawrence Press.