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Issue 4, Volume 20 | April 2023

Issue 222, spring 2023

upcoming spring issue

Featuring Open Season Awards winners Gloria Blizzard (cnf), Caroline Harper New (poetry), and Deepa Rajagopalan (fiction).

Cover art by SGidGang.Xaal / Shoshannah Greene.

by Jenna Lyn Albert, Kayla Czaga, Sue Goyette, Maggie Helwig, Kate Kennedy, D. A. Lockhart, Pauline Peters, Cale Plett, C. Rafuse, and Shane Rhodes.

Fiction by Katherine Abbass, Mehr-Afarin Kohan, Rebecca Mangra, and Paul Ruban.

Creative nonfiction
by Paul Dhillon and S. I. Hassan.

Long Poem Prize winners

Announcing the 2023 Long Poem Prize winners:
Domenica Martinello & Bren Simmers!

Thank you to judges Bertrand Bickersteth and Jennifer Lynn Still, and to all who entered the contest.

Here's what the judges had to say about Domenica Martinello's poem: "A deceptively simple poem, 'Good Want' asks us to reconsider the general, the generic even, as matter for meaningful refashionings. From the first lines we sense the poet’s need to establish extraordinary space around a very specific shame. The poet uses the expanse of the long poem to stretch around this silence, to protect and share a secret, a want, a forgiveness. A unique courage is needed to remake flatness: open fields, the surface of a table, unitalicized text. This poet knows how to say and not say the horrible thing. Throughout the poem silence is released through silence—the umm of something and the oh of nothing, an expired cake mix rising. What is at stake when we say what we want and don’t want? What is unclenched when we forgive? We feel the poem as a specificity within us. "

And here's what the judges had to say about Bren Simmers' poem: "'Cloud Études' offers poetry as shelter. As tool, home, sustenance. Where do we live when our body, our 'pitched I' fails us? What are we left with when memory evaporates? This poet works into the tall strata of the page to draw language into new conditions. What lives below—the long, flowing, sentence-level life filled with uncertainty and loss—lends itself to the distilled shapes above. The known inverts with the unknown. Reconstituted language shows us 'clarity’s sparse address.'

Wisp by wisp, page by open page, 'Cloud Études' is an exquisitely-crafted and explored navigation of the value of poetic practice, a poem that shows us the fertile space within and above our lives, how to take cover in meaning-making 'worthy of the hours.'"⁠

Read more about the 2023 Long Poem Prize winners.

One week left to submit!

Far Horizons Award for Short Fiction banner

Calling all emerging writers—this contest is for those who have yet to publish a book of fiction. We've increased the prize this year to CAD $1,250!

This year's judge:
Susan Sanford Blades

Entry fee (includes a 1-yr print sub):
$25 CAD for each entry from Canada
$35 CAD for each entry from elsewhere
$15 CAD for each additional entry, no limit

Full contest guidelines on our website.

Gloria Blizzard, Open Season CNF Award winner

Gloria BlizzardVolunteer Safiya Hopfe talks with the 2023 Open Season CNF Award winner about her upcoming book of personal essays, living at multiple simultaneous intersections, and different art forms feeding each other in her essay, "Passage."


SH: The fragmentation of “Passage” feels deeply intentional and, to me, adds to its depth as a layered meditation on transition and relationality. In this sense, the structure of this piece seems to imitate its content. When, while you are writing an essay, does structural clarity usually emerge?

GB: Sometimes structure seems clear at the onset and I might try it out with the subject matter to see if it works. At other times, the content indeed determines structure. The fact that I bring together multiple themes and stories is indicative to how I sit in the world. I live at multiple simultaneous intersections of experience, location, culture and race. I have studied science and engaged in the arts and spirituality. I don’t hold these things as separate. I experience them as all inherently connected. This place of crossroads is an integral part of my voice.

Read the rest of Gloria Blizzard's interview.

Caroline Harper New, Open Season Poetry Award winner

Caroline Harper NewPoetry Editorial Board member David Eso talks with the 2023 Open Season Poetry Award winner about the value of a trusted first reader, the telescoping of time, and the geographic, mythological, religious, and cultural landscapes of home in her poem, "Interview with a Cervidologist."


DE: Your poem’s literary and animalistic surfaces play out against a political backdrop—namely, recent changes to abortion laws in the United States and Georgia House Bill 48 (which you reference). Why did you choose to make deer central to this politically charged poem?

CHN: The moment that comes to mind is when I found the poem’s ending point. I came across a Northern Wilds article from 2015, in which there was a quote by the author-hunter Shawn Perich: “Maybe Sigmund Freud, were he a deer hunter, would have an explanation. Perhaps, by going inside a dark box, the modern deer hunter re-enters the womb.” A hunter’s dark romanticization of the body he came from as synonymous with the body he hunts, as well as the implications of a fraught character like Freud, brought all of these political anxieties to the surface. The animal fear that myself and loved ones have felt in this political landscape suddenly had a body.

Read the rest of Caroline Harper New's interview.

Deepa Rajagopalan, Open Season Fiction Award winner

Deepa RajagopalanVolunteer Anne Hung talks with the 2023 Open Season Fiction Award winner about truth telling in fiction, finding ways to hold beauty, and how our experiences shape the way we respond to powerlessness in her story, "Cake."


AH: “Cake,” similar to another of your award-winning stories “Peacocks of Instagram,” provides an intimate look into the protagonist’s life, thoughts, and feelings as an immigrant worker experiencing discrimination and fighting to survive. Can you speak to these parallels and how your writing has evolved between these two stories?

DR: I am fascinated by power. Who has it? Who doesn’t? Who gets to claim theirs? How do our experiences shape how we respond to being powerless?

When I started to write “Cake,” I was thinking about the MeToo movement, and the ways in which power is taken from women. A large portion of the MeToo conversation was geared towards celebrities, but I wanted to talk about it in the context of someone who has a lot less privilege. Rania’s environment presents her with a number of disadvantages. She’s a woman. She’s poor. She works as a housekeeper. She’s also an immigrant though that is not explicitly said in the story. She loses a job opportunity to Jasper, someone way less qualified than her because he was a privileged man. We see this all the time. But what she does from there, how she navigates that landscape, what it means for her to feel safe, these are the things I wanted to talk about.

Read the rest of Deepa Rajagopalan's interview.

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