Winners and Finalists of the 2019 Emerging Poet Prize!


We are honored to share with everyone the winners and finalists of the 2019 Emerging Poet Prize!

Guest judge Kim Addonizio had a difficult time choosing from our exceptional finalists, all read blind, but in the end, she selected Cassandra J. Bruner to take the $3000 prize. Congratulations to Cassandra, and to all of our winners and finalists!


Winners of the 2019 Emerging Poet Prize

1st — Cassandra Bruner, for “After Frida Kahlo’s Sin Esperanza & the Crohn’s Diagnosis” (to be published 12/18)

A dark and sometimes darkly comic self-portrait that is wide-ranging, speaking to art, the female body, and the larger culture. One of many amazing far-reaching lines: “the way our poisoned bodies/ become feast for a board /of trustees.” — Kim Addonizio

2nd — Randy James, for “Sauce on the Side” (to be published 12/11)

There is dazzling energy and propulsion in this poem of origins and identity. I loved both its seriousness and its humor, as well as its wry self-awareness. Make way for this speaker who is “part flamingo,/part Black Howler.” —Kim Addonizio

3rd — Jesús I. Valles, for “Mexican Standard About a Desert” (to be published 12/4)

This is an affecting lament —the speaker has no god or goddess except “Maquiladora, Mother deity of want.” Yet the poem grants a kind of sacredness in detailing what the speaker can claim in this difficult world where “Everything I know…I know/From bones in the sand.” — Kim Addonizio


Honorable Mentions (selected by Kim Addonizio)

Momtaza Mehri, “On Finally Seeing Astarte Syriaca I Am Overcome With A Longing To Text You A Meme Only You Would Laugh At”
Sarah Kay, “To Make an Axe”
Michelle Lewis, “The Gap”

The Finalists of the 2019 Emerging Poet Prize

Margot Kahn, “Practice at the Community Courts”
Asad Ali, “Mosambi-nama”
Bethany Schulz Hurst, “Werewolf in Reverse”
Samuel Wright Fairbanks, “Casks”