Winners and Finalists of the 2020 Spotlight Award!


We are honored to share with everyone the winners and finalists of the 2020 Spotlight Award!

A big thank you to everyone who submitted this year. It was a pleasure and a joy—you’ve all made our team all better poets by sharing your work with us. 

Winners of the 2020 Spotlight Award

1st — Lise Goett, for “The Bookman” (to be published on May 6)

Lise Goett’s second book, Leprosarium (Tupelo Press, 2018), was a selection in the July 2015 Open Reading Period of Tupelo Press and the 2012 winner of the Robert H. Winner Memorial Award in Poetry from the Poetry Society of America for best manuscript-in-progress. Her other awards include The Paris Review Discovery Award, The Pen Southwest Book Award in Poetry, the Capricorn Prize from the West Side Y, the James D. Phelan Award from the San Francisco Foundation, and The Barnard New Women Poets Prize for her first poetry collection, Waiting for the Paraclete (Beacon, 2002), as well as postgraduate fellowships from The Milton Center and the Creative Writing Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Image, Mandorla, and the Antioch Review. She teaches generative workshops and edits poetry manuscripts for publication out of her home in Taos, NM.


2nd — Tarik Dobbs, for “X-Ray Diptych in Ben Gurion Airport” (to be published on April 29)

Tarik Dobbs is a queer, Arab American poet from Dearborn, MI. They have received fellowships from Bucknell Young Poets & the Hopwood Program. Their poems appear/forthcoming in Passages North, The Journal, & AGNI Magazine.


3rd — Isabella DeSendi, for “Hippocampus” (to be published on April 22)

Isabella DeSendi is a Cuban-Italian poet and educator whose work has been published in Narrative, Leveler, Small Orange, Two Peach, The Ekphrastic Review, and others. Her chapbook Through the New Body was selected as a winner of the 2019 Poetry Society of America’s 30 and Under Chapbook Fellowship and is forthcoming in spring 2020. She was also recently selected as a finalist for The 2019 Frontier Digital Poetry Chapbook contest judged by Jericho Brown, and has been named a finalist for the June Jordan Fellowship and Narrative Magazine’s Annual Poetry Prize. Isabella is the recipient of a New York State Summer Writers Institute Fellowship and holds an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University in New York City where she currently resides and works in finance.


The Finalists of the 2020 Spotlight Award

KT Herr, for “elegy with two degrees of separation”
Christine Gardiner, for “Confession”
Benjamin Garcia, for “Ode to the Touch-Me-Not”
Akosua Zimba Afiriyie-Hwedie, for “I know a place where I can spread myself out and be enough to fill a room”
Anthony Okpunor, for “These Nights Will Speak of Us”
Nile Lansana, for “infringement”
Saúl Hernández, for “Notes on Sueñitos”