Search results: “2021 sappho”

Winners of the 2021 Sappho Prize


We are honored to share with everyone the winners, finalists, and longlist of the 2021 Sappho Prize for Women Poets! This year’s winners were selected by Maggie Smith. Endless gratitude to all who shared their remarkable poems with us—we are better poets for having spent time with your work.

Winners of the 2021 Sappho Prize for Women Poets

1st & $3000— Emily Zogbi for “Lost Things” (to be published on September 7, 2021)

Emily Zogbi is a writer from Long Island and earned her MFA in poetry from The New School. Her work has been published in Rumble Fish Quarterly, Chronogram, Tinderbox Poetry Journal and Empty House Press. She wishes she had been a dancer.

2nd & $300— Sophia Tonnessen for  “Layaway (to be published on September 8, 2021)

Sophia Anfinn Tonnessen is the author of the upcoming poetry collection Ecologia from Unbound Editions Press.

3rd & $200— Yi Wei for “Look” (to be published on September 9, 2021)

Yi Wei is a first-generation Chinese writer with a BA in Asian American Studies and English from Swarthmore College. She currently serves as the Assistant Flash Fiction Editor at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. Yi’s work has been awarded the Lois Morrell Poetry Prize and appeared in Lantern Review and Crosswinds. She’s heading to NYU’s MFA program in poetry this fall, as a Writer in the Public Schools fellow!


Lisa Baird for “an alternate universe in which my trauma is made of birds”
T. De Los Reyes for “Balloon”
donia salem harhoor for “in media res”
Grace MacNair for “Abecedarian for the Man Who Claimed Birth Control Goes Against Nature”
Caroline New for “How I Became a Mother”
Arianne Payne for “Resurface”
Natalie Wee for “In My Next Life as a Fruit Tree”


Michelle Peñaloza
Rose Solari
T. De Los Reyes
Janine Certo
Lindsay Adkins
Becca J. R. Lachman
Grace MacNair
Kay Lin
Sara Baker
Alice Templeton
Andy Winter
ann sim
Ellen Romano
Gemma Cooper-Novack
Allison Thorpe
Alyson Favilla
Carolyne Wright
Duncan Difazio
Heather Treseler
Laura Plummer
Soeun Seo
Susan Coronel
Beth Yahp
Judith Sornberger
Alise Versella
Carolyn Donnell
Dee Dee McNeil
Nora Hikari
Melanie Almeder
Rebecca Byrkit
Terry Johnson
Tori Sharpe

Finalists for the 2021 Sappho Prize


We are honored to share with everyone the finalists and longlist of the 2021 Sappho Prize for Women Poets! Please join us in congratulating these remarkable poets. Immense gratitude to all who shared stunning poems with us—we are better poets for having spent time with your work. The winners selected by judge Maggie Smith will be announced soon.

Finalists for the 2021 Sappho Prize


Lisa Baird for “an alternate universe in which my trauma is made of birds”
T. De Los Reyes for “Balloon”
donia salem harhoor for “in media res”
Grace MacNair for “Abecedarian for the Man Who Claimed Birth Control Goes Against Nature”
Caroline New for “How I Became a Mother”
Arianne Payne for “Resurface”
Sophia Tonnessen for “Layaway”
Natalie Wee for “In My Next Life as a Fruit Tree”
Yi Wei for “Look”
Emily Zogbi for “Lost Things”


Michelle Peñaloza
Rose Solari
T. De Los Reyes
Janine Certo
Lindsay Adkins
Becca J. R. Lachman
Grace MacNair
Kay Lin
Sara Baker
Alice Templeton
Andy Winter
ann sim
Ellen Romano
Gemma Cooper-Novack
Allison Thorpe
Alyson Favilla
Carolyne Wright
Duncan Difazio
Heather Treseler
Laura Plummer
Soeun Seo
Susan Coronel
Beth Yahp
Judith Sornberger
Alise Versella
Carolyn Donnell
Dee Dee McNeil
Nora Hikari
Melanie Almeder
Rebecca Byrkit
Terry Johnson
Tori Sharpe

2022 Sappho Prize: Winners & Finalists


We are delighted to share the winners, finalists, and longlist for the 2022 Sappho Prize for Women Poets! Please help us congratulate these brilliant poets. Deep gratitude to all who shared moving poems with us—we are so lucky to have been immersed in the worlds of your work. The winning poems were selected by Jos Charles and will be published in a few weeks. 

Winners of the 2022 Sappho Prize


1st place — Mónica Gomery for “Occupational Hazards”

Mónica Gomery is a poet and rabbi who writes about queerness, loss, diaspora, theology, and cultivating courageous hearts. Her second collection, Might Kindred, won the 2021 Prairie Schooner Raz-Shumaker Book Prize in Poetry, and is forthcoming in November 2022 from University of Nebraska Press. She is also the author of Here is the Night and the Night on the Road (Cooper Dillon Books, 2018), and the chapbook Of Darkness and Tumbling (YesYes Books, 2017). She has been a nominee for Pushcart Prizes and Best of the Net, and a graduate of the Tin House Winter Workshop. Her poems have appeared in Waxwing, Black Warrior Review, Adroit Journal, Muzzle Magazine, and other publications. Read more at


2nd place — Jennifer Harrison for “The Oldest Forest”

Jennifer Harrison has published eight poetry collections. Her ninth, Sideshow History, will be published this year by Black Pepper, Melbourne. She was awarded the 2012 Christopher Brennan Award for sustained contribution to Australian poetry. Jennifer is currently Chair of the World Psychiatry Association’s Section for Art and Psychiatry.


3rd place — Kendall Grady for “Untitled”

Kendall Grady is a PhD candidate and instructor at UC Santa Cruz, where they write toward a media theory of love and through sensory ethonographies of poetic couplet. Grady’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in PubLab, The Atlas Review, Concrete Flux, Dusie, and Jupiter 88, and have sounded at the Baltic Writing Residency (Stockholm) and the Poetic Research Bureau (Los Angeles). Their chapbook, 321 Couplets, is forthcoming from CoastNOCoast. Grady lives in California with the Midwest in their heart.


Hajjar Baban
Mansi Dahal
Laurel Faye
Liberty Ferda
Danielle Jones
Shelby Pinkham
Billie Tadros



Claressinka Anderson
Sarah Bitter
Jennifer Blackledge
Talia Bloch
Bunny Boisvert
Ambriel Bostic
Kizziah Burton
Abigail Byrd
Claire Collison
Melissa Crowe
Brooke Dwojak Lehmann
Majda Gama
Kristyn Garza
Rochelle Hurt
Tyler Hurula
Skye Jackson
Emma Jaques
Perla Kantarjian
Aiyana Masla
Ngwatilo Mawiyoo
Carling McManus
Livia Meneghin
Sara Moore Wagner
Abby Murray
Mary Pacifico Curtis
Alexandria Peterson
Louhi Pohjola
Jennifer Pratt-Walter
Kait Quinn
Khalisa Rae
Dipanjali Roy
Sonya Schneider
Lauren Sheerman
Niki Strange
Mandy Tu
Madeline Augusta Turner
Milla van der Have
Terry Wright
Ellen Zhang

The Winners and Finalists of the 2020 Sappho Prize!


We are honored to share with everyone the winners, finalists, and longlist of the 2020 Sappho Prize, selected by Victoria Chang!

A big thank you to all the women who made this such a tough decision this year. So honored to lift you up and to read your work.

Winners of the 2020 Sappho

1st — Faylita Hicks, for “I Tried Dating Again” (to be published on October 28, 2020)

“‘I Tried Dating Again’ is fierce and beautiful at the same time. The poem deploys gorgeous imagery and caesuras to manage rhythms. Energy and beauty are two words that keep entering my mind while reading Faylita Hicks.” — Victoria Chang

Faylita Hicks’s debut collection, HoodWitch (Acre Books, 2019), has been named a finalist for the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Poetry and the Julie Suk Award. They are the Editor-in-Chief of Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and their work has appeared in Poetry Magazine, Longreads, The Rumpus, the Texas Observer, Texas Monthly, Huffington Post, Slate, Cincinnati Review, and others. They have been offered fellowships and residencies from Tin House, Lambda Literary, Jack Jones Literary Arts, and the Right of Return USA program for previously incarcerated artists. They received their MFA in Creative Writing from Sierra Nevada University and are working on a second poetry collection and multi-media project entitled ARCO while living in San Marcos, TX.


2nd — Yvette Siegert, for “Papier-mâché” (to be published on October 21, 2020)

“I love the use of line here by Yvette Sigert—how the pacing of the poem is controlled via the line and the phrase, alternating between the short and long phrase or sentence within the larger capsule of the long line. Beautifully rendered poem.” — Victoria Chang

Yvette Siegert is a CantoMundo Poetry Fellow and winner of the 2019 Oxford/Lord Alfred Douglas Poetry Prize, and her critically-acclaimed translations of Alejandra Pizarnik’s late poetry, Extracting the Stone of Madness: Poems 1962–1972 (New Directions), won the 2017 Best Translated Book Award for Poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Magma, Boston Review, The White Review, The Literary Review, Gulf Coast, Aufgabe, North American Review, 6×6, Guernica, St Petersburg Review, Berlin Quarterly, Oxford Review of Books, The Scores, and the Broken Sleep Anthology of Immigrant Writing (2021). She is currently a doctoral candidate in Latin American literature at Merton College, University of Oxford.


3rd — Natasha Rao, for “Abecedarian on Shame” (to be published on October 14th, 2020)

“I admire the form of this poem, as I find Abecedarians hard to write. Natasha Rao’s work deftly uses the form in a natural and organic way, shifting between imagery and narrative. The final image of the zinnia is stunning.” — Victoria Chang

Natasha Rao holds a BA from Brown University and an MFA from NYU, where she was a Goldwater Fellow. Natasha has received support from the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference and the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing, and her work can be found or is forthcoming in The Offing, Rattle, The Margins, and Narrative. She is currently the deputy editor of American Chordata and lives in Brooklyn.


The Finalists

féi hernandez, for “Coming Out or Undone.”
Christell Victoria Roach, for “Quartering”
Rozanne Gold, for “Kitchen Work”
Itiola Jones, for “Vanity”
Ann-Marie Blanchard, for “Inside Me Are Icebergs That Make It Hard to Dance”
Margot Douaihy, for “Don’t”


The Longlist

Rebecca Aronson
Christina Lloyd
Jennifer Dorner
Mary Jo Thompson
Ariel Machell
Khalisa Rae
monica yoshida
Elizabeth Aoki
Bethany Schultz Hurst
Dana Krugle
Rebecca Loggia
Kizziah Burton
Jessie Li
Daimys Ester García
Katrina Roberts
Yvette Siegert
Jennifer Davis Michael
Elana Osen
Ruth Wiggins
Madeleine Wattenberg
Mariana Goycoechea
Lupita Eyde-Tucker
Shellie Harwood
Ann-Marie Blanchard
Candice Iloh
Alyssa Trifone
Abigail Welch
Clio Hamilton
Gail Langstroth
Ameera Pearsall
Monica Prince
Carolina Hotchandani
Kizziah Burton
Chivas Sandage
Elise Hernandez
Esther Ra
Carolina Hotchandani
Beth Williams
Dion O’Reilly
Eliza Wood



“Look” by Yi Wei is the 3rd place winner for the 2021 Sappho Prize, selected by guest judge Maggie Smith.

“I admire the way this poem explores multiple iterations of experience—like turning something in one’s hands, looking carefully at its many facets. There is comfort in this line: “In every version of this story, I am alive.” But no, wait, that comfort is rescinded here: “In every version of the story but this one, I am alive.” I finished this poem and wanted to read more by this writer.” —Maggie Smith



I am walking down the street and no one wants to kill me. I am walking down the street and no one kills me. In the grocery store, the first melon I pat is ripe. The security guard is white and nothing else. In the building, there is less room for being turned on and no room for grief. My fingers are spindly against the door. I am anon. The guard does not nod. The guard cannot linger. The camera does not pick up the guard and the couches and the visitors and the top of my head with it, does not document the last living video of me entering before I am found. The camera does not fling my body across the room like I am meant to float the way ghosts do. I walk. I walk into my apartment and think I am alive. At home, I unpack my melon and what I eat goes into my mouth and I eat it with my mouth like a sermon. The rind of the melon does not fall to the ground. I am alive. In every version of this story, I am alive. The melon is rotten. I am alive. The security guard does a jig as I enter. I am alive. The couch is being dry cleaned. I am alive. I hug the bellhop. I am alive. I smash ten melons against the glass coffee tables. I am alive. The walls of the apartment melt into the bedsheets. I am alive. I am alive. In fifty years, the security guard is in the same bar as me and we do not make eye contact. In every version of the story but this one, I am alive. I think I would like to join the others. I think I would like to have another melon. Give me another melon. Let me swallow it whole. 


Sweet melon, husk. The women 
in my family are wildly heaving 
what they carry. The seeds still flower 
in their chests, and I wonder how sharp 
the ends, the rot from within. 

My aunt, too ripe and burning. Like her father, 
she plucks the rot from the body, tells my mother 
the news when it spreads. I spoon half a grapefruit
with the news. We are always cutting 
what we cannot save. 

It’s not the ripeness of the melon that is urgent—
to eat, to eat now. There is a nectarine I bought 
on the first warm day, one month ago. It is soft 
and ready and brown. My friend tells me 
about a frozen turkey left on top of her freezer, 

decomposed over a year. It lay there, spread 
too thin, too ripe. Four years late my grandfather 
tells us about his liver. One year late my aunt 
tells us about her breasts. We are always 
the last to the table.

The ripening of our women is a legacy 
of burning. We leave behind nothing
but seeds. My aunt, a sweet life, a sweet 
son. She sleeps alone,
soft and ready and saved. 


Look at me with your melon ball eyes. Beady 
round things       look                    me in                              the eye deep 
scoop me out       with your melon               ball eyes. Scoop 
the meat with                          the handle                 tug 
me             loose                                        let me fill


I nightmare again tonight about the Chinese women 
who tuck my hair between my fingers and pull. 
Faceless women who become angry women who 
become dead women who are left in the sheets
when I wake. I am always left in the wake, 
smelling their perfume and unstuck in their sweat, 

my fists clench their hands as I walk 
slowly. Slower, still. I comfort 
them with my knowing—one of us 
is dead and the other lives in the dead 
lands, in the knowing that we are not 
supposed to go soft, and do. 

When my women are mistaken for spoil 
by soldiers, by you, I comfort them. 
After all, what is comfort but two women 
holding hands? Who are we but two soft things 
made softer by embrace—defiant and ripe
in our clasping. So chase us. Look.




Yi Wei

Yi Wei is a first-generation Chinese writer with a BA in Asian American Studies and English from Swarthmore College. She currently serves as the Assistant Flash Fiction Editor at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. Yi’s work has been awarded the Lois Morrell Poetry Prize and appeared in Lantern Review and Crosswinds. She’s heading to NYU’s MFA program in poetry this fall, as a Writer in the Public Schools fellow!



“Layaway” by Sophia Anfinn Tonnessen is the 2nd place winner for the 2021 Sappho Prize, selected by guest judge Maggie Smith.

“This poem looks a little wild, a little unwieldy, unspooling down the pages—and this feels  just right to me formally because what it’s sharing with us resists containment and tidiness. In this sense, the poem is embodying, enacting—with humor and vulnerability and pain, which coexist together here. I loved the ending and yet was sorry to see the poem end.”  —Maggie Smith


after Galina Rymbu

Lie down on the floor of your bathroom,
if you can.          Remember the last time you were too sick
to go to school – I’ll be remembering the same thing
at the same time, half-jokingly eulogizing myself
when I only had the flu.          How alien the tiles were against your face.
Remember the uncomfortable cold and smooth hard surface–
like the war stories of our grandfathers, lacking names,
details, context – polished stones – or better yet,
like beachglass shorn enough of edges for taking home
and putting in a jar –             what was normally soft and friendly
when sick seems unbearable, your blankets,
the bed itself, heat, your body’s own softnesses a sickening pillow.

“Now that we’re in this alien place,
I’m ready to tell you:                 I’m going to do it.
But you don’t deserve this poem yet.

I’ll ask how much it’ll cost, whether insurance covers it,
if I need to put my new pussy on layaway.
What if I can only afford the econi–pussy,
no cupholders, leather interior, or rims – think I’ll be happy then?
The Spirit airlines of pussies, the Kmart pussy, a lemon,
secondhand, even, if that’s an option, Zipper, Velcro.
This is why we’re on the floor of the bathroom:
I get dizzy thinking about surgery.
Consults, forms, cleanses, recoveries; bloody, boring, long and dull –
in case I forget how to piss, or never learn again,
or if I bleed all over after the surgery,
if I get soaked from the ludicrous joy of impossibility made real.

It’s funny how your brain keeps things from you.
Like how much I hated my body as a teenager,
I kept that feeling in a pit in the middle of a snowy plain.
Fear that no one who knew would touch me –
that one I spirited away on a warm wind over New York in August,
thick with the odors of trash, human sweat, and exhaust to hide under.
Little knowledge that this is, I’ve kept here on the bathroom floor,
ignoring it as best I could.
This is where I lay when I realized that this was not the only world,
and that someone moved on the other side, and where I knew
that my will could shape my breasts, that in me lay
_______well, this,
which has as many arms
and lives in as deep a darkness as the giant squid,
blind and milky, alongside my eely fears and reptilian anxieties.
They’re laying with us on the bathroom floor.
I suppose it could be the floor of the operating theater.
Maybe it’s already happened – after all, this poem will exist before and after,
long after the fears have stopped their desperate
breathy flopping on the cold tile
and after the anxieties have skittered away through crevices
to their own little world of plumbing and mayflies.

In a few decades of our little rest,
pussy now intact, recovered, and fully integrated into human society,
the floor of the bathroom
will sprout. Ivy first and creepers, thin weeds between
the floor’s grout, and out of me, too, will come
Kazakh tulips, calla lily and violets –
out of the brutal words and the holes they tore in me
vaginoplasty     clitoroplasty       labiaplasty
like bulldozers                 TNT                    scalpels
________________________________who could recover?

It doesn’t matter either way if I can piss
but whether I can explain it to the curious,
the passersby who come intrigued to the floor of the bathroom
and ask if I am a boy or a girl
if I am here to intrude on women’s spaces
and undo the hard work of feminists
if I am here to win at sports
I won’t speak. My throat rough with ferns and spores.
The gaps in my memory and constant revisions,
the clear evidence of blows should be enough
for them to gather conclusions among the wild onions.
So come ask me your questions:
I admit I didn’t bring you here to watch me decay into vegetation
or listen to my bad jokes
(though I do love a captive audience) – it is lonely here
in the way I imagine places without life at all are lonely –
the surface of Mars.
the Moon’s ridges.                 I’ve only come here myself
so recently. I still have all the lousy tourist brochures
advertising Being Myself At Last!         clinging to them
like I’d ever buy into them, head to the tourist attractions
of cheap feminism and corporate pride.

If I can’t afford it,
I’ll put it on layaway, get an accountant just so I can say
these are my monthly pussy payments
ask regularly if my pussy will get repossessed.
Did I have the audacity to think a quarter century of profound confusion
would buy me some relief? What the hospital needs is cold hard cash,
iron and diamonds dug from mountains, paid in clotted blood
and blackened lung – the doctors need me to represent the community,
to write a dozen letters in confirmation
I am devout in my delusions                  (I am zealous
and filled with doubt);
the insurance company will take Mexican pesos and gold.
Perhaps I can store some inside me for later use:
I am unsure of how these “pussy” things work.
Is it an instrument on which
one does not play music of any kind
(how indecorous to suggest!)
or a storage container for one’s resentment
or a compartment for vital documents –
bank records, birth certificates and the like?
Mine can be more abstract –
Avoid the gates entirely and find
a surgeon outside the mainstream, on the cheap,
to make a Monet pussy which only looks good from the middle distance
or a Dali pussy                  (microwaved too long).

See, the floor of the bathroom is a great place for thinking.
I’m definitely not down here because I don’t have the energy to get up,
or because I’m ashamed of how much I want it.
My pussy will be covered by insurance
because, fun fact, it is a medical necessity
so maybe it is for the taking of medicine
or a basic function, like breathing,
but how could I be so shallow,
I am an aesthetic, mastered those base and fallow
desires, left them salted in their fields,
blocked them on social media,
all signs of this fever which follows me
like a cloud of bees I cannot get rid of:                   I am also the bees.
The willow, too, especially her weeping.
I have been searching for the right discomfort for so long
to turn myself around and force me to lie still –
a little peace buried now so deeply under moss
lichens                              the rush of clear water –
coming, I think, from me? –
that you can’t see me there at all,
nor I, any longer, see you.




Sophia Anfinn Tonnessen

Sophia Anfinn Tonnessen is a PhD Pre-Candidate in Slavic Literature at the University of Michigan, and graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. She is the author of the poetry collection Ecologia (from Unbound Editions Press) and her work has been published in Poet Lore and in several online journals. Sophia lives with several hundred books and one neglected houseplant.

Lost Things


“Lost Things” by Emily Zogbi is the winning poem for the 2021 Sappho Prize, selected by guest judge Maggie Smith. We’re honored to share this stunning poem as well as an interview with Emily about her work.

“On one hand, this poem is grounded by conversational diction and the stuff of a life: keys, statues, portraits, furniture. On the other hand, it’s deliciously elliptical, dreamlike, and fragmented. The tension is electric, especially in the poet’s masterful play with syntax, repetition, and questions that are not questions at all, but framed as statement. This poem will stick with me for a good, long time.”  —Maggie Smith

Lost Things

She  gingerly  adjusts  the   statue of  Jesus
playing    football,   a    stuffed    jackalope,             
a model  of  Apollo  11. A  portrait  of  her
grandfather   rests   against  the   wall.  His
name  is   on   the  moon,   you  know.   We
collect    the    Christmas    dishes   &    haul
them  upstairs.  This  house is  fit to  burst.
What  a  lonely  cloud  I am   she  thinks.  Her
children plead—there are too many things
here. Too many stairs, dollhouses, &  piles
of  ash.  Everyone  recalls  the smell  of  the
electrical fire,  rabbit  & cat huddled  under
the  kitchen  table.    Okay    everyone,   let’s
play   Find   the  Percocet.   Saint    Anthony
laughs at the top of the stairs. It’s  always  a
game  with him. I  turn  over a vase  &  find
my name. I round a corner & the  table  has
vanished.  I  shake  a  teapot  &  the  missing
rings  appear  in  my  mouth.  Where’d  you
find   this.   Someone    is   weeping     by   the
mailbox.  I am  cleaning  in  a manic   frenzy
&   now   the    keys   are    gone.     We’ve   all
misplaced  the  boiling  water.  It’s    melting
the polyester  in an  eldest  daughter’s  shirt. 
I forget  how to peel a tomato. I forget how
to    clean    chicken.   I   don’t    know   when             
I  turned  the   oven  on.  Who   is   that  man
in  the  portrait.   What’s   that   smell.  What
do  you  mean  he’s   dead.   Do   you see that
cardinal  in  the   window.   Do  you   see  the
cloud  in  the  den.  I think  I know  its name.
There’s  a   hole  in  the  fence.   You   wished
yourself   to   the    moon     &   that’s    where
you slipped through.




Interview with Emily Zogbi

by AT Hincapie 

AH: Whether after the loss of a loved one or even to move into a new home, cleaning out a house is often done, as your poem describes, “in a manic frenzy…” Yet in the middle of this chaos, there is time to peel a tomato and clean chicken. How might the rituals of food provide the time and space for meditative reflection that the speaker needs?

EZ: Well, my first thought is that there’s always time for dinner. The house that inspired this poem, my grandparents’ house, was always full of people and often the epicenter of large family gatherings. A lot of my memories take place in that house, with people crowded in the kitchen or around a table full of food, which at times could be chaotic, but comforting at the same time. And, amidst the chaos, there is always something to eat. The lines “I forget how to peel a tomato / I forget how to clean chicken” are a way to indicate that the speaker has forgotten something that should be second nature; the speaker has forgotten a ritual. Food is something that’s supposed to be meditative and grounding, especially in a bustling, active space—so when those rituals are forgotten, the speaker becomes untethered. Ultimately, this is a poem about a house and the people inside of it, but it’s also about memory. I wasn’t trying to capture the specific type of chaos that comes with death or moving, but the frenzy of losing things in general. Both the everyday chaos of this specific house and the general chaos that comes with someone slowly losing their memory. 

AH: Formally, the shape of the poem reinforces a feeling of claustrophobia that is reflected throughout each room of this house. Why is it important for you to show the collections of a person’s life in this way, rather than beginning the poem perhaps outside “weeping by the mailbox” where there might be more open space?

EZ: I think claustrophobic is a good word to describe what’s happening here. This poem had many different forms before I settled on this one; I fiddled around with the shape for a long time, but it always came back to a box. As someone who collects things, I have boxes full of sentimental papers, jars full of shells, tchotchkes galore, etc. I figured for a poem like this, with all the items listed, it made sense to have it all collected in one place. And, I guess, because the poem can become “frenzied” at times, I wanted a form that could contain it. I tried a lot of different shapes—at one point, the poem was like 10 or so box-like stanzas scattered about the page, but that got confusing very quickly. This singular box structure was the only shape that really made sense to me. 

Everything begins and ends with the house, and a house is a collection of a person’s life. The poem is in part about a house, the people inside of it, and what we collect over the course of a lifetime; but ultimately, it’s about the fragile nature of memory, and how maybe we attach memory/meaning to objects so they have a tangible place to live in the world. Without meaning, it’s just stuff. My response to that, after having to think about it, is that you can attach meaning to objects, yes, but you cannot keep memory in a box. Once you lose it, it’s gone. And sometimes a house can be too full. Sometimes a house that, for decades, was the keeper of so many treasures can begin to betray the people it once protected. And I think the house in the poem became so crowded because the people living in it were afraid of what they would forget. 

My grandparents are right now in the process of moving out of a place they’ve called home for nearly 60 years. They raised six children in that house. It’s seen and held a lot of love, drama, fights, and laughter. Over the course of their life, my grandparents have collected a lot of stuff. Like, a lot of stuff. Like ten dumpsters worth of stuff. It was definitely easy to get lost inside of it. The house served all of us well for the time that we had it—I know it as well as my childhood home—and I know it broke their hearts to have to leave. I remember telling my grandmother at one point that a house is just a house. It’s a box that holds our shirts and pants, not our memories. We do that. But I know that sentiment must scare her as her memory becomes more and more unreliable.

So, to answer your question, finally—this is an interior poem. There might be open space by the mailbox, but the speaker eventually must walk back up the driveway and go inside. After all, it’s not the speaker that slips through the fence at the end, but someone else. 

AH: Religious imagery remains a constant presence throughout the house, from the statue of Jesus playing football to the patron saint of lost things laughing at the top of the stairs. Given the unusual appearance of these figures and their juxtaposition with images of space travel, is it possible that the family’s faith has been shaken by their experience? 

EZ: That is entirely possible. I think faith can be easily shaken, but not so easily toppled. All the items that appear in the poem were actual things in my grandparents’ house, including the statue of Saint Anthony at the top of the stairs. It’s big too—comes right up to my knee if I remember correctly. It’s common in some Catholic families to pray to saints, and in my family, since we’re always losing stuff, be it wedding rings or sunglasses, we pray to Saint Anthony. We are a forgetful people! And sometimes after you’ve spent an hour tearing the house apart looking for your car keys only to find them in a place you looked a million times—or in a place that you never would have thought to look, like an old teapot—it does start to feel like someone is playing a sick game with you. It’s not completely about “belief” or “faith,” either; at some point it just becomes part of a family’s vocabulary. I dunno, it just made sense to include him in this poem. An experience like this is frustrating for both the family and the person that it’s happening too, and frustration can lead to doubt. But, yeah, maybe the family’s faith has been shaken, but the speaker’s faith hasn’t. 

AH: In a similar light, this poem often emphasizes shared trauma and collective memory, whether gathering family heirlooms or recalling the smell of an electrical fire. How might the presence of family and friends help to comfort or encourage where perhaps faith and science might fall short for the speaker?

EZ: So, the poem starts in the third person, right—there’s a “she” that by the end of the poem becomes an “I.” I wanted the “who” of the speaker to be sort of blurry, because as you lose your memory, you’re also not sure who is speaking, or who said what. I like that you point out the moon stuff as scientific vs. the religious imagery. I didn’t even think about that. For me the moon is a sort of mythical figure—not like, “the moon landing was fake” mythical, but in the sense that, it’s part of our family mythos. My grandfather actually worked on Apollo 11—he wrote the flight manuals—and everyone who worked on it signed their name somewhere on the spacecraft—I think it was the bottom panel, but I can’t remember—so his name is, in fact, on the moon. So, in the house, the religious iconography and these more “scientific” items are sitting on the same shelf, literally and figuratively. I think, even without the memory theme, family and friends, faith and science, all of that blends together anyway. It’s complicated—the speaker feels misunderstood by her family (she is a “lonely cloud”) and her children worry that there are too many things in the house, which there are, but how can she part with them? Especially if they are the only things keeping her tethered to the Earth. 



Emily Zogbi

Emily Zogbi is a writer from Long Island and received her MFA in poetry from The New School. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Chronogram, Rumble Fish Quarterly, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Empty House Press, RHINO Poetry, Half Mystic, and others. She wishes she had been a dancer.

Contests & Awards

Find the results of previous Palette Poetry contests here.

Please visit this page to find the guidelines for our current contest.

The 2022 Love & Eros Prize

Contest closed on October 16, 2022.

1st — AE Hines, "Security Deposit"

2nd — Shannan Mann, “Versions of the Undefinable Other”

3rd — Caroline New, “Elk Lake, MI”

Love engulfs us, desire rules us. For this contest, we encourage love poems beyond the confines of what’s traditionally “romantic.” Rather, we’re seeking unflinching examinations of our sharpest human sensations—those of desire, longing, devotion, and intimacy. All iterations of love are welcome—send us your bitter and your sweet, your queer, platonic, reverent, and devotional.

Winners selected by Carl Phillips.

The 2022 Chapbook Prize

Contest closed on August 25, 2022.

Winner: Joshua Aiken, to be in & of, forthcoming August 2023

We’re delighted to launch the inaugural Palette Chapbook Prize— $2000 award, 50 physical copies, and digital publication! Poetry chapbook manuscripts of all styles are welcome—we have no theme or aesthetic preference. The judge this year is Chen Chen. The winning chapbook will be published and made available digitally late Summer/Fall of 2023. 

The 2022 Sappho Prize

Contest closed on June 19, 2022.

1st — Mónica Gomery, "Occupational Hazards"

2nd — Jennifer Harrison, “The Oldest Forest”

3rd — Kendall Grady, “Untitled”

We're honored to be able to create space for women* poets to step forward. Thanks to the efforts of the VIDA project and others, we've made a lot of progress in the past few years, but much work is still to be done. This contest only accepts submissions from women* poets. The winning poet is awarded $3000 and publication on Palette Poetry. Second and third place win $300 & $200 respectively, as well as publication. *all women are welcome to submit (cis and trans)

Winners selected by Jos Charles.

The 2022 Emerging Poet Prize

Contest closed on April 17, 2022.

1st — Grace MacNair, "Theodicy"

2nd — Liala Zaray, “CNN’s correspondent thinks afghani means Afghan”

3rd — Gabriel Cortez, “I just wanted to see what it would do when I say—”

Meant for emerging poets, this contest only accepts submissions from poets with no more than one full-length collection out at the time of submission. The winning poet is awarded $3000 and publication on Palette Poetry. Second and third place receive $300 & $200 respectively, as well as publication.

Winners selected by Safia Elhillo.

The 2022 Previously Published Poem Prize

Contest closed on January 16, 2022.

1st — K. Iver, "Who Is This Grief For?"

2nd — Shakthi Shrima, “Self Portrait in Lust“

3rd — Sneha Subramanian Kanta, “Partition Homes”


Winners selected by Palette editors.

The 2021 Love & Eros Prize

Contest closed on October 18, 2021.

1st — Emily Lawson, "Sand Flats, UT"

2nd — Maria Nazos, "The Hollywood Glacier"

3rd — Rachel Abramowitz, "Restoration"


Winners selected by Kaveh Akbar.

The 2021 Palette Poetry Prize

Contest closed on August 16, 2021.

1st — Katie Hale, "The Gallery of America"

2nd — Claire Wahmanholm, "A"

3rd — Len Lawson, "Hypotenuse"


Winners selected by Jericho Brown.

The 2021 Sappho Prize

Contest closed on June 20, 2021.

1st — Emily Zogbi, "Lost Things" 

2nd —Sophia Anfinn Tonnessen, "Layaway"

3rd — Yi Wei, "Look"


Winners selected by Maggie Smith.

The 2021 Emerging Poet Prize

Contest closed on April 19, 2021.

1st — Crystal Valentine, "Black Madonna"

2nd — Christine Poreba, "Slipped Stitches"

3rd — Serrina Zou, "The Present of Poetry"


Winners selected by Kelli Russell Agodon.

The 2021 Previously Published Poem Prize

Contest closed on January 17, 2021.

1st — Diane Kerr, "The Distinguished Thing: A Colloquy"

2nd — Darius Simpson, “If I’m Caught Between a Badge and a Hard Place Three Hours After the Streetlights Turn On"

3rd — Catherine-Esther Cowie, “Aftermath”

The 2020 Palette Poetry Prize

Contest closed on August 16, 2020.

1st — Teresa Dzieglewicz, "There are no police in this poem"

2nd —Matthew Minicucci, "(grapes)"

3rd — Kathleen Winter, "The Sheep and the Lambs" 

The winners were selected by our guest judge, Forrest Gander.

The 2020 Sappho Prize

Contest closed on June 14, 2020.

1st — Faylita Hicks, "I Tried Dating Again–Like the Doctor Said–But I Don’t Think I’m Ready #2020"

2nd — Withdrawn by winner

3rd — Natasha Rao, "Abecedarian on Shame"

The winners were selected by our guest judge, Victoria Chang.

The 2020 Emerging Poet Prize

Contest closed on April 19, 2020.

1st — A.D. Lauren-Abunassar, “The Immigration Pastoral”

2nd — Mikko Harvey, “Let the World Have You” 

3rd — Akosua Zimba Afiriyie-Hwedie, “Provenance” 

The winners were selected by our guest judge, Ilya Kaminsky.

The 2019 Previously Published Poem Prize

Contest closed on October 15, 2019.

1st — Nicole Rollender, "The Luster of Everything I’m Already Forgetting” (originally published in Gigantic Sequins)

2nd — Leila Chatti, “What Will Happen” (originally published in Indiana Review)

3rd — Isabella DeSendi, “America’s First Female Muslim Judge Found Floating in a River” (originally published in Narrative)

The 2019 Emerging Poet Prize

Contest closed on August 15, 2019.

1st — Cassandra Bruner, “After Frida Kahlo’s Sin Esperanza & the Crohn’s Diagnosis”

2nd — Randy James, “Sauce on the Side”

3rd — Jesús I. Valles, “Mexican Standard About a Desert”

The winners were selected by our guest judge, Kim Addonizio.

The 2019 Palette Poetry Prize


1st — Shelley Stenhouse, "The Great Cosmic Hum"

2nd — Alycia Pirmohamed, "House of Prayer"


The winners were selected by our guest judge, Edward Hirsch.

The 2019 Spotlight Award


1st — Gbenga Adesina, “Surrender”

2nd — Antonio Lopez, “Aullo” 

3rd — Miranda Beeson, “There’s a Rattle, Sometimes” 

Honorable Mention — Francisco Marquez, “I’m not one of those who left my land”

The 2018 Emerging Poet Prize


1st — Victoria Flanagan, “In Response to My Mother When She Says Hearing Me Read My Writing’s like Hearing God”

2nd — Benjamin Garcia, “Huitlacoche”

3rd — Nicole Homer, “Feral and Conjoined” 

The 2018 Palette Poetry Prize


1st — torrin a. greathouse, “Hapnophobia or the Fear of Being Touched”

2nd — madison eli johnson, “west harlem, july 2017”

3rd — Brittany Leitner, “Liberosis”

The winner was selected by our guest judge, Shane McCrae.

Deadlines: May & June


Every middle of the month: new deadlines, new contests, and new opportunities for your work to find its audience. Here is a roundup of submission opportunities with deadlines in May or June, including Palette’s Sappho Prize, the Auburn Witness Prize, fellowships, residencies, and others.



This contest only accepts submissions from women poetsALL women are welcome to submit (cis and trans). The winning poet will be awarded $3000, publication, and an interview with Palette Poetry. Second and third place will win $300 & $200 respectively, as well as publication. The top ten finalists will be selected by the editors, and guest judge Jos Charles will then select the winner and two runners-up. Submissions are open internationally, to any poet writing in English. Simultaneous submissions are welcome, and only unpublished submissions are accepted. There is no page requirement, but submission must be no more than 3 poems.

Reading Fee: $20


DEADLINE: 05/24 — extended deadline!

Mizna: the Black SWANA Issue

For their winter 2022 issue, guest-edited by Safia Elhillo, Mizna is seeking works that demonstrate the infinitely varied and kaleidoscopic nature of the Black SWANA (South West Asian and North African) experience. The work itself does not have to be about the Black SWANA experience— rather, through the range of themes, forms, genres, and voices, Mizna hopes to assemble an issue that serves as a platform for critical exchange between authors and as a record of the current moment as it pertains to the Black SWANA experience. Literary works of poetry, visual poetry, fiction, flash fiction, nonfiction, creative nonfiction, comics, collage, invented forms, and any forms of mixed print or hybrid work will all be considered. Those submitting work should identify as Black. Simultaneous submissions are accepted.

Reading fee: none



The editors of the Gettysburg Review are interested in both short and long poems of nearly any length or aesthetic bent. Poetry submissions should consist of one to five poems, depending on length, formatted either single- or double-spaced. If, however, your poem is a book-length epic, then you should think about excerpting. While they charge a small fee for standard online submissions, snail-mail submissions are welcome free of charge.

Reading fee: $3



Poet Lore is the nation’s oldest poetry journal. Published with the conviction that poetry provides a record of human experience as valuable as history, Poet Lore’s intended audience is broadly inclusive. General submissions are open through May. Beginning with Volume 117, Summer/Fall 2022, Poet Lore will pay contributors $50 per published poem. Submit up to 5 poems (maximum 10 pages). Simultaneous submissions are accepted.

Reading fee: none



Auburn Witness Poetry Prize

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Southern Humanities Review is given annually for a poem of witness in honor of the late poet Jake Adam York. The winner also receives travel expenses to give a reading at a poetry event at Auburn University in Alabama in October with the contest judge. This year’s judge is Rick Barot. Each entrant may submit up to three poems of witness. Entries must be previously unpublished, and simultaneous submissions are accepted.

Reading Fee: $15



The Artist in Residence (AIR) program awards fully sponsored residencies to approximately 50 local, national, and international artists each year. Residencies of four to ten weeks include studio space, chef-prepared meals, housing, travel, and living expenses. This includes paid roundtrip airfare and up to $1,000 a month of either a stipend or reimbursed expenses. AIRs become part of a dynamic community of artists participating in Headlands’ other programs, allowing for exchange and collaborative relationships to develop within the artist community on campus. Artists selected for this program are at all career stages and work in all media, including drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, film, video, new media, installation, fiction and nonfiction writing, poetry, dance, music, interdisciplinary, social practice, and architecture. No letters of recommendation required, only the names of three references. Artists not currently enrolled in an academic program at the time requested residency would take place are eligible.

Reading fee: $45



Best New Poets is an annual anthology of fifty poems from emerging writers. All entries go into a single anonymized pool where readers rank the submissions. A finalist pool of 150 to 300 poems then goes to a guest editor for review, and that guest editor selects the final fifty poems for the book. The 2022 guest editor is Paula Bohince. The poems submitted for Best New Poets 2022 must either be unpublished work or work published after January 1, 2021 (and where the writer currently retains all rights allowing the writer to publish it again without permission from another magazine or publisher). Best New Poets 2022 is a book for emerging writers. We will only accept submissions from writers who have NOT yet published a book-length poetry collection. This includes self-published books if they were sold online, in stores, or at readings. For the purposes of BNP eligibility, we do not consider chapbooks to be “book length,” and poets with only chapbook publications remain eligible to enter.

Reading fee: $4.75



Chicago Review

Simultaneous submissions are allowed but discouraged. While there are no strict length requirements, the poetry editors prefer to read at least 3 pages of work. Please include a cover letter. Contributors receive three copies of the issue in which their work appears, plus a one-year subscription.

Reading fee: $3.50

Residency applications are now open for 2022-23. The residency program welcomes artists and writers working across all mediums and genres for two, three, and four-week sessions. Residents enjoy well-lit, private studios within a short walk to residency housing, dining hall, and local amenities. Accommodations include a private room and shared common areas. A VSC residency provides artists and writers the time and space to focus on their creative practice in an inclusive, international community within a small Vermont village. Residents can explore swimming holes, hiking and biking trails, as well as the rural charm of neighboring towns, while expanding their creative potential and building a solid network of friends and mentors.

Reading fee: $25



Fairy Tale Review

The Rainbow Issue of Fairy Tale Review will be dedicated to queer fairy tales written by queer writers. Prose Editor Benjamin Schaefer will serve as Editor for the issue. Since its inception, Fairy Tale Review has been committed to contributor diversity and inclusive engagement. While The Rainbow Issue will be dedicated to queer fairy-tale poetry and prose written by writers who self-identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Fairy Tale Review is especially interested in submissions by writers working at the intersection of queerness, including women and nonbinary writers, BIPOC, writers with disabilities, and writers from other marginalized and underrepresented groups in mainstream publishing. Submissions must be previously unpublished, both in print and online. Writers may submit up to four poems totaling no more than ten pages. Contributors will receive two (2) issues of The Rainbow Issue and a $50 honorarium upon publication.

Reading fee: none