2019 International Literary Award Winners

Drumroll please! We announce the winners of the 2019 ILA!

Winners in each category receive a cash award of $1,000.
Honorable mentions in each category receive a cash award of $150.

2019 Rita Dove Prize in Poetry
Laura Minor’s “Everything Beautifully Sideways”
photo of Laura Minor

Laura Minor was nominated for a 2018 Pushcart Prize. She is the recipient of FSU's 2019 Sassaman Graduate Creative Writing Award and the 2016 Emerging Writers Spotlight Award, chosen by poet, D.A. Powell, as well as FSU's poetry nominations for AWP's Intro Journals Project 2018 and Best New Poets 2018. She was named in the 2018 article,"10 Acclaimed FSU English Professors that Will Inspire You" by collegemagazine.com. Her poetry is forthcoming or has most recently appeared in Powderkeg, Arc Poetry Magazine, The American Poetry Journal, O: JA&L, Berfrois, and Queen Mob's Tea House. She was a Teacher’s College Fellow at Columbia University and the recipient of a Sarah Lawrence Poetry Award where she also received her M.F.A. Also a singer-songwriter, she is currently working on a third record while she finishes her debut book of poems at Florida State University.

Honorable Mention
Jamaica Baldwin’s “Daggers and Dandelions”
photo of Jamaica Baldwin

Jamaica Baldwin’s work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Prairie Schooner, Rattle, Third Coast Review, Birdfeast, and Hayden’s Ferry among others. She was recently named winner of the 2019 San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference Contest in Poetry and is also the recipient of Hedgebrook and Vermont Studio Center residencies. Jamaica received her MFA from Pacific University Oregon and currently lives in Lincoln, NE where she is pursuing her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska.

From the Judge
Marilyn Nelson
First Prize

Winner: "Everything Beautifully Sidewise"

Again and again, re-reading this poem as one among a slowly diminishing deck of strong contenders, I was struck by the unfolding layers of its linguistic delights and the seriousness and depth of this clear-eyed, wise, and humble poet’s understanding, as they remember a precarious moment of youthful intimacy and promise, that “No matter what we do,/ this revolving ball of dirt will turn/ like a tea bag around a spoon.”

Honorable Mention

Honorable Mention:  “Daggers and Dandelions”

I was touched by the brave honesty of this confrontation with the memorylessness of an adult who was an abused child, whose youth, as the title suggests, caused cutting pains which drift away like seed fluff when they are examined. That extended metaphor leads to a straightforward declarative sentence naming the mother's neglectful absence, which leads to another extended metaphor about the madnesses sanity hides, like paint "over the bright graffiti" of screaming years. A powerful realization, beautifully captured.

  • “Needlework” by Elmaz Abinader
  • “Lake Peigneur Speaks to the Oil Rig” by Shay Alexi
  • “Alecto: Return” by Megan Alpert
  • “The Blending” by Ra Avis
  • “A Language so Fraught” by Jamaica Baldwin 
  • “Daggers and Dandelions” by Jamaica Baldwin
  • “Hagar” by Lois Baer Barr
  • “Tatters and Organdy” by Margo Berdeshevsky
  • “Where There is Smoke” by Ellen Birkett Morris
  • “De Rerum Natura” by Jane Craven
  • “Week 14: Lemon” by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach
  • “Mar del Sur” by Gabrielle Freeman
  • “Pleuropulmonary Blastoma” by Whittney Jones
  • “Igneous/Shards” by Allison Boyd Justus
  • “Of the Power of Air” by Allison Body Justus
  • “ask them who is doing the haunting” by Tieu-Khe (T.K.) Le
  • “the harvest” by Tieu-Khe (T.K.) Le
  • “Everything Beautifully Sideways” by Laura Minor
  • “Adam” by Corinna Munn
  • “Dear Aunt Louise, Muh” by Joy Priest
2019 Penelope Niven Prize in Creative Nonfiction
Jen Soriano’s “Unbroken Water”
photo of Jen Soriano

Jen Soriano is a Filipinx-American writer whose work blurs the boundaries between nonfiction, surrealism and poetry. Her writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and the Newfound Prose Prize, and can be found in outlets such as TAYO, Waxwing, Pleiades, Reappropriate.co and Assay. Jen holds an MFA from Rainier Writing Workshop and a BA from Harvard University, and lives to connect with readers across the world through her website http://jensoriano.net or through Twitter @lionswrite and Instagram @jensorianowrites. “Unbroken Water” is an excerpt from Jen’s hybrid memoir-in-progress about colonization, historical trauma and the neuroscience of healing.

Honorable Mention
Sarah Phipps's “In 1965”
photo of Sarah Phipps

Sarah Phipps was born and raised in Alaska. A graduate of UC Berkeley, she served on the editorial board of the Berkeley Poetry Review. She went on to work as a sports writer and outdoor editor in Alaska and won 1st place in the Alaska Press Awards for best feature writing. A student in Pam Houston’s advanced writing group Pamfa for many years, she is a founding board member of Writing By Writers, a non-profit providing workshops, residencies and fellowships to bring aspiring writers into close community with nationally known poets and writers.

From the Judge
Melissa Febos
First Prize

Winner: "Unbroken Water"

In this lucid and lyrical meditation, the narrator juxtaposes American and Philippine presidents who "form two points in a new web of global authoritarianism" and explores the history of her parents' country--her own "Motherland"--as she explores its actual land, the ways it has been ravaged by centuries of colonization, and its resilient beauty. As she teases apart the complex roots that tie her family to one another and to the land, she sets that personal narrative deep in the history of place, and in its present textures, the river that she jumps in that "feels thicker than water, thick almost like blood." A powerful and luminous essay.

Honorable Mention

Honorable Mention: "In 1965"

A pregnant young woman navigates the decision of whether or not to terminate her pregnancy in this fine and nuanced narrative. While a boyfriend and colleagues patronize her with their opinions, the figure of her own mother in 1965, pregnant with her, is the most compelling. "At my desk I feel that I am rushing backwards," she tells us. "I am dust. No one can see me." A subtle and affecting story of bodily autonomy.

  • “In the Woods” by Camille Armantrout
  • “Natural Causes” by Hannah Austin
  • “Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen Years Old” by Jane Blunschi
  • “Rape Card” by Sarah Cadorette
  • “In My Family, Women Outlive Men” by DéLana R.A. Dameron
  • “World Peace 101” by Laura Distelheim
  • “Bhangra” by Anita Gill
  • “A Mighty Sensible Dress” by Kelly Hill
  • “Sometimes Farmgirls Become Revolutionaries” by Jake-ann Jones
  • “On the Morning Occasion of Your 45th Birthday” by Kathy Kehrli
  • “The Sixth Sense of Anna Gaetana” by Carolyn Love                       
  • “How to Be Brave” by Sarah Neilson
  • “Returning to Brazil” by Fabia Oliveira
  • “In 1965” by Sarah Phipps
  • “Domestic Animals” by Emily Seibert
  • “A Place to Bed” by Emily Seibert
  • “She and I: Making Landfall” by  Ka`imilani Leota Sellers
  • “Unbroken Water”  by Jen Soriano
  • “Things That Go Boom” by Denise Tolan
  • “Notes on Bewilderment” by Arianne Zwartjes
2019 Reynolds Price Prize in Fiction
Elizabeth Edelglass's “First They Came for the Torahs”
photo of Elizabeth Edelglass

Elizabeth Edelglass’s fiction has recently appeared in New Haven ReviewLilithTabletPoor YorickThe Sunlight Press, and JewishFiction.Net, as well as in four recent anthologies, including The Bridport Prize Anthology 2018. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has won the Lilith short story contest, the William Saroyan Centennial Award, and the Lawrence Foundation Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review. She is a past Artist Fellow of the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.

Honorable Mention
Toni Plummer’s “Up in Smoke”
photo of Toni Margarita Plummer

Toni Margarita Plummer grew up in South El Monte, a suburb of Los Angeles. Author of The Bolero of Andi RoweStories, a winner of the Miguel Mármol Prize, and a Macondo Fellow, she has work forthcoming in the anthologies Latina Outsiders Remaking Latina Identity and East of East: The Making of Greater El Monte. Plummer attended the University of Notre Dame and the Master of Professional Writing Program at USC. After working as an acquisitions editor in New York City, she now freelance edits and lives in the Hudson Valley.

From the Judge
Jennine Crucet
First Prize

Winner:  “First They Came for the Torahs”

This story shows how the minutiae of everyday life sustains (and distracts) us from the escalating horrors surrounding us, even as those horrors find us in our own communities and places of worship. Through Abby and Doug, we see how generosity and suspicion go hand in hand, how we can love our neighbors while also being quick to blame and fear them in the face of hatred that hurts us all. It’s an ambitious story without an easy conclusion, because there will be nothing easy about what’s coming our way in this country, and this story is unafraid to tell us the truth: that none of us are safe.

Honorable Mention

Honorable Mention:  “Up in Smoke”

I was immediately drawn to Cecilia aka Chong, a woman after my own heart who eats off-season candy canes by the box and sucks their ends into dangerous spikes. The dialogue in this story is superb, and the story is expertly paced and rich with convincing details. Confidently narrated, its subtle ending invites speculation and stokes a growing sense of dread — one that flares up from the moment the characters are denied entry into their own hotel. I loved it and wanted to read more by this writer.

  • “Time to Go” by Nandini Bhattacharya
  • “Slips” by Colwell Brown
  • “The Cattle Car” by David Christel
  • “First They Came for the Torahs” by Elizabeth Edelglass
  • “The Towel Imp” by Mary Granfield
  • “The Grieving Widow” by Toni Hamilton
  • “The Waiting Tree” by Toni Hamilton
  • “La Madrugada” by Julia Jackson
  • “Edith Gladstone Takes Note” by Bobbi Junior
  • “Love is a Wild Creature” by Robin Kirk
  • “Michiko's Waltz” by Sakae Manning
  • “The Lesser Woman” by Tristan Marajh
  • “The Pink House” by Tracy Chiles McGhee
  • “The Unbearable Sound” by Tracy Chiles McGhee
  • “The True Story of La Llorona” by Feliz Moreno
  • “Open Road” by Rebecca Padgett
  • “Up in Smoke” by Toni Plummer
  • “The Estate of Ann Vilović Davis” by Andrew Stiggers
  • “New Pajamas” by Deanna Todd-Goodson
  • “Alice in Abqaiq” by Jill Widner