2016 International Literary Award Winners

Salem College Center for Women Writers announces the results of the 2016 International Literary Awards.

Penelope Niven Prize in Creative Nonfiction
Jessica Reidy for “Madness is Remembering”
Jessica Reidy

Jessica Reidy is a professor and editor, and a writer of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Narrative, The Missouri Review blog, The Los Angeles Review, Luna Luna Magazine, and other publications. She is a yoga instructor and teaches monthly Yoga and Writing workshops in New York with Elissa Lewis. She also works her Romani (“Gypsy”) family trades: fortune telling, dancing, and energy healing. Jessica is currently writing her first novel set in post­-WWII Paris about Coco Charbonneau, the half­-Romani burlesque dancer and fortune teller of Zenith Circus, who becomes a Nazi hunter.


Honorable Mention
Rebecca Lasley for “As We Mingle with the Light”
Rebecca Lasley

After decades as a tourist in life, including a 15­year stopover in the museum business, Rebecca Lasley recently returned to full-­time residence in her homeland: art and writing. Her favorite territory is the borderland where seeming opposites commingle, blur, and confound. Current projects include hand­painted clothing and picture books for adults.

From the Judge
Elissa Washuta
First Prize

“Madness Is Remembering”

“In this exquisite essay, the narrator is wounded by the double-­punch of past trauma compounded by a lover’s new inflictions: the failure to understand rape trauma, the acts that make old pain show up nearly­-new in the body, the incomprehensible violence. Employing an enchanting cadence, stunning figurative language, narrative tension so taut I forgot to breathe, and a bedrock layer of the history of violence inflicted upon Romani family members, the author infuses the page with the dread of intergenerational trauma that makes space for new wounds.”

Honorable Mention

“As We Mingle With the Light”

“Every moment of this haunting essay carries the weight of grief. During the final days of the narrator’s husband’s life, she takes the reader through the process of working to create lasting memories by lingering upon words and images, capturing vivid scenes, and rendering fully­-embodied characters. The solemnity of grief is captured by the haunting tone and rhythms of mourning in the prose, and the essay’s fragmentation mirrors the shattering effect of trauma.”


“Beirut Never Dies,” Zeina Abi Assy
“Fish,” Virginia Bell
“Yes, I wanted to Lose you,” Jennifer Blevins
“His Anger is Not New,” Isabel Choi
“I'm Lucky I'm Not an Expert, They Say,” Jen Ferguson
“Protecting the Dolls,” Jenny Forrester
“The Wife,” Silvia Foster­Frau
“Roosevelt,” Janelle Greco
“Enveloped in Time,” Vic Haggard
“St. Francis,” Elizabeth Jannuzzi,
“The Fair,” Kathy Kehrli
“As We Mingle with the Light,” Rebecca Lasley
“Welcome,” Marissa Mazek
“The Struggling Seed,” Jill Menard
“Trees, Familial,” Ali Pearl
“Licorice Memories,” Fran­Michelle Reichert
“Madness is Remembering,” Jessica Reidy
“On Eating the Marshmallow,” Helen Betya Rubinstein
“Edna, With Her Mouth,” Katherine Schaefer
“The Things We Bury,” Jessie Serfilippi
“Address,” Sharla Yates

Reynolds Price Prize in Fiction
JoeAnne Hart for “Someone, If Not Her”
Photgraph of JoeAnne Hart by Grazier Photography

JoeAnn Hart is the author of the novels Float (Ashland Creek Press, 2013) and Addled (Little, Brown, 2007). Her short fiction, essays, and articles have been widely published, most recently in The Offbeat, Beecher’s, Orion, and the anthology Winds of Change: Short Stories About Our Climate (Moon Willow Press​). She lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Honorable Mention
Mathangi Subramanian for “Perfectly Clear”
Photograph of ​Mathangi Subramanian by Sonali Bhatia

Mathangi Subramanian writes for children and young adults. In 2016, her novel Dear Mrs. Naidu​ won the South Asia Book Award and was shortlisted for the Hindu Young World / Goodbooks Prize for Fiction. In 2015, her short story Banu the Builder won the middle grade category of the Katherine Paterson Prize for Fiction. A former public school teacher, assistant vice president at Sesame Workshop, and senior policy analyst at the New York City Council, she received her doctorate in education from Columbia Teachers College. She wrote Perfectly Clear​ while living in Bangalore, India on a Fulbright­-Nehru senior scholarship.

First Prize

“Someone, If Not Her”

“In "Someone, If Not Her," we meet Viola Outreau, who is tasked, in her role at Goose Cove's Long­-Term Unit, with ushering terminal parents out of this world and into the next. "Someone, If Not Her," is a spellbinding story about all the ways we try, and fail, to love others, but even as the main characters in this story unwittingly miss giving their mother a final goodbye, we can see that Viola Outreau will persevere in her own caring. Viola observes, about a fish scale she finds on the back of her wrist, that it is "as sheer as a petal but tenacious as an eel, the way it had survived the onslaught of her morning shower." And it is through lines like this that the writer of "Someone, If Not Her," so beautifully makes the reader aware of the tenacity of love that infuses this premise.”

Honorable Mention

“Perfectly Clear”

“Kabini, the protagonist of "Perfectly Clear," blurs the lines between fantasy and realism as she searches in her heart, quite literally, for her mother. The piece uses exquisite language to describe both the societal forces that constrain Kabini and the faraway orphanage that offers her a freedom that only the third-­person narrator can see. At work is the hand of a writer who is very adept at sharing both the brutality of oppressive forces and the magic that allows one to transcend them.”


“Wendell Berry’s Peace,” Heather Adams
“A Good Job,” Dani Blackman
“The Reluctant Son of a Fake Hero,” Joe Dornich
“Down for the Count,” Meiloni Erickson
“Eleven Things I Have Left Now That My Daughter Is Gone,” Vickie Fang
“Someone, If Not Her,” JoeAnne Hart
“Wild Horses,” Jennifer Hawk
“In Whispers and in Silence,” Jessica Lamoureaux
“The Infidelity of Judah Maccabee,” R.L. Maizes
“Light Four Ways,” Tori Malcangio
“Quiet at the End of the River,” Ray Morrison
“Yaiza,” Brenda Peynado
“The Whitest Girl,” Brenda Peynado
“Swallow,” Amira Pierce
“Groundhogs,” Tanya Smith
“Perfectly Clear,” Mathangi Subramanian
“My Desert Child ,” Masha Sukovic
“Her Boy,” Mika Taylor
“Proximity,” Andrea Witzke Slot
“Unchained,” C. Stuart Wright

Rita Dove Prize in Poetry
J.C. Todd for “The Girl in the Square”
Photograph of J.C. Todd by Mark Hillringhouse

J. C. Todd is a Pew Fellow in the Arts, the 2016 Alliance of Artist Residencies Pew Fellow at the Ucross Foundation, a 2016 Fellow of the Ragdale Foundation, and a finalist for the 2015 Poetry Society of America’s Robert Winner Award. She is author of ​ FUBAR, a limited edition artist book created in collaboration with visual artist MaryAnn L. Miller (Lucia Press, 2016) and of What Space This Body (Wind Publications​, ​2008​)​. Her poems have appeared in ​The Paris Review, American Poetry Review, Wild River Review​ and elsewhere. She is a faculty member of the Creative Writing Program at Bryn Mawr College and the MFA Program at Rosemont, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Honorable Mention
Shauna M. Morgan for “Der Pfau”
Photograph by Neena & Ella Ibeji Snaps "Delaplane Sunflower"

When she’s not happily squeezed into a twin sandwich with her precocious 10­year old daughters, Shauna M. Morgan is off riding her bicycle and trying to touch the earth in as many ways as possible. Ever on the hunt for a perfectly fragrant fruit, she seasonally raids her parents’ tropical yard for bounties of mangoes, bananas, sugarcane, and June plums. Her poems have been shortlisted for the​ Small Axe literary prize and have appeared in ​Pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture​,​ Anthology of Appalachian Writers Volume VI​ , ​ Interviewing the Caribbean, The Pierian, ​ and elsewhere​.​ She lives in Virginia and teaches at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

From the Judge
Blas Falconer
First Prize

“The Girl in the Square”

“I was impressed by several submissions to the Rita Dove Award in Poetry but kept returning to “The Girl in the Square.” The poem focuses on a very particular and perhaps seemingly arbitrary moment during the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, using precise imagery and spareness of language to simultaneously render the enormity of the rebellion and the specific, valiant sacrifices made by individuals for this historic event.”

Honorable Mention

“Der Pfau”

“Again, it was a challenge to pick only one honorable mention because there were so many strong poems; however, I was ultimately won over by the elegy “Der Pfau.” Here, I was drawn into the story of loss, the difficulty of accepting or even articulating grief, and how the poet conveys this struggle while also conveying the burden of such sadness.”


“Le Negra Takes Medusa to the Hair Salon,” Elizabeth Acevedo
“Holly 1962,” Megan Alpert
“Portrait as Maid of Honor,” Stacey Balkin
“al;ve,” Alecia Belnavis
“in the realm of things that cannot,” Colleen Carias
“Octoroon,” Marie Chambers
“Lovemakin' When You Tryna Get a Book Deal,” Adrienne Christian
“Finding a Photograph of an Execution in Time Magazine,” Gail Davern
“[Full Grown Giraffe Trapped in My Ribcage],” Sarah Diaz
“Hiking Lazily Going Nowhere Special,” Laurie Duncan
“the optic nerve is excited mechanically, 2,” Emily Heilker
“My Sister's Clothes,” Janna Knittel
“Facing the Enemy,“ Jennifer Markell
“Weather,” Patricia Meek
“Der Pfau,” by Shauna M. Morgan
“Needle Work,” Shauna M. Morgan
“Samsara Samsara,” Jennifer Neely
“Origami for Marie Laveau,” Alison Pelegrin
“In Apogee,” Joy Priest
“Nocturne,” Marguerite María Rivas
“Everything Moving Toward Elegy in This Season of Lost Light,” Cathie Sandstrom
“Recycled,” Debra Suba
“The Girl in the Square” by J.C. Todd
“Guava Picking,” Elsa Valmidiano
“Shy as Sapphires in Austin, Texas,” Meridel Walkington
“Sister,” Jaelynn Walls

Winners in each category received a $1000 cash prize. Honorable mentions received a $150 cash prize.