To watch videos of our Writing Award winners click on the following;
Personal Essay winner Emely Lopez
Fiction winner Adalyne Perryman
Honorable mention in Poetry Dorothea Caposito
Saida Agostini is a queer Afro-Guyanese poet whose work explores the ways Black folks harness mythology to enter the fantastic. Her work is featured in Plume, Hobart Pulp, Barrelhouse, Auburn Avenue, amongst others. Saida’s work can be found in several anthologies, including Not Without Our Laughter: Poems of Humor, Sexuality and Joy, The Future of Black, and Plume Poetry 9. She is the author of STUNT (Neon Hemlock, October 2020), a chapbook reimagining the life of Nellie Jackson, a Black madam and FBI spy from Natchez Mississippi. Her first full-length collection, let the dead in (Alan Squire Publishing) was released in Spring 2022. A Cave Canem Graduate Fellow, and member of the Black Ladies Brunch Collective, Saida is a two-time Pushcart Prize Nominee and Best of the Net Finalist. Her work has received support from the Ruby Artist Grants, and the Blue Mountain Center, amongst others. She lives online at www.saidaagostini.com
Robert Bensen’s latest book is What Lightning Spoke (Bright Hill Press), a 300-page collection of new poems and poems selected from six previous books. His poems, non-fiction and literary essays have appeared in AGNI, Akwe:kon, Antioch Review, Callaloo, The Caribbean Writer, Jamaica Journal, La presa, Native Realities, The Paris Review, Partisan Review, Ploughshares, Poetry Wales, River Styx, and elsewhere. He has edited anthologies of Native American and Caribbean literature and authored American Indian and Aboriginal Canadian Childhood Studies (Oxford University Press). His writing has earned awards and fellowships from the NEA, NEH, Newberry Library, NYSCA, Illinois Arts Council, Harvard University, NY State Fair, and the Eric Hoffer Foundation. He conducts the Seeing Things poetry workshop at Bright Hill Literary Center. Bensen is Professor Emeritus at Hartwick College, where he taught writing and literature and directed writing programs from 1978-2017. He has also taught as a lecturer at SUNY Oneonta. Find him online at www.robertbensen.com
Tessa Yang is a fiction writer from upstate New York. Her debut story collection, The Runaway Restaurant, was published by 7.13 Books in 2022. Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, CRAFT, The Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. She is an assistant professor of Literature, Media, and Writing at Hartwick College, where she teaches creative writing. Find her online at www.tessayang.com.
J.L. Torres is the author of a novel, The Accidental Native; The Family Terrorist and Other Stories; and the collection of poetry, Boricua Passport. His most recent short story collection, Migrations, won the inaugural Tomás Rivera Book Prize. Of Migrations, judge Luis Alberto Urrea wrote: "Migrations showcases a major talent. It resonates with the music of hard-luck classics from our past, yet sings songs of evasive redemption." He has published stories and poems in numerous journals and magazines including The North American Review, Denver Quarterly, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Eckleburg Review, Puerto del Sol, Las Americas Review, and the groundbreaking anthology Growing Up Latino. A professor emeritus at SUNY Plattsburgh, and a Fulbright recipient, he has taught American Literature, U.S. ethnic literatures and creative writing. He has published various essays on Latinx literature and multiethnic literature, and co-edited Writing Off the Hyphen: New Critical Perspectives on the Literature of Puerto Rican Diaspora. Besides the PhD, he holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University. He co-founded the Saranac Review and served as its Editor for many years.
Tom Montgomery Fate is a professor emeritus at College DuPage in Glen Ellyn IL, where he taught creative writing and literature courses for more than 30 years. He is the author of six books of creative nonfiction, including The Long Way Home: Detours and Discoveries, a travel memoir (Ice Cube Press, 2022), Cabin Fever, a nature memoir (Beacon Press), and Steady and Trembling, a spiritual memoir (Chalice Press). A regular contributor to the Chicago Tribune, his essays have appeared in the Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun, Orion, The Iowa Review, Christian Century, Fourth Genre, River Teeth, and many others. Dozens of his essays have also aired on NPR, PRI and Chicago Public Radio.
Anthony Grooms is the author of Bombingham: A Novel and Trouble No More: Stories, both winners of the Lillian Smith Book Award for fiction. He has taught writing and American literature at universities in Ghana and Sweden, and since 1994, at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. He has lectured widely on American literature and culture, especially on topics related to narrations that reflect on the American Civil Rights Movement. Grooms is a Fulbright Fellow, a Yaddo Fellow, a Hurston-Wright Foundation Legacy Award finalist, and an Arts Administration Fellow from the National Endowment for the Arts. His novel The Vain Conversation (2018) has earned honors from the Georgia Center for the Book, the Women’s National Book Association, the Trio Multi-Arts Program, and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. For more about Grooms visit anthonygrooms.com.
Barbara Ungar is the author of five full-length books of poems and three chapbooks. Save Our Ship won the Snyder Prize from Ashland Poetry Press and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2019; it also won a Franklin Award from the Independent Book Publishers Association and was a Distinguished Favorite at the Independent Press Awards. Her most recent chapbook, EDGE, is inspired by and named after the EDGE lists of Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered species. Prior books include Immortal Medusa, named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015, and Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life, both from The Word Works, and The Origin of the Milky Way, which won the Gival Prize and a silver Independent Publishers award. A professor at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, she is lives in Saratoga Springs with her son Izaak, a freshman at SUNY Adirondack.
Adrian Van Young is the author of two books of fiction: the story collection, The Man Who Noticed Everything (Black Lawrence Press), and the novel, Shadows in Summerland (Open Road Media). His fiction and non-fiction have been published or are forthcoming in Electric Literature's Recommended Reading, Black Warrior Review, Conjunctions, Guernica, Slate, VICE, BOMB, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and The New Yorker, among others. He teaches English and Creative Writing and lives in New Orleans with his family. More at: adrianvanyoung.com.
John Robert Lee has published 15 collections of poetry, plus scores of short stories, essays and reviews. Lee’s latest publications are Pierrot (Peepal Tree Press) and Collected Poems 1975-2015 (Peepal Tree Press). His short stories and poems are included in the anthologies Facing the Sea, The Penguin Book of Caribbean Verse, The Faber Book of Contemporary Caribbean Short Stories, The Heinemann Book of Caribbean Poetry, The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse, and World English Poetry. He has been a teacher, librarian, radio and TV broadcaster, literary journalist, reviewer, newspaper columnist, actor and director.
Lisa Dublin is a Saint Lucian performance poet, author and entrepreneur who now lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with her husband and three sons. Through the media of performance poetry, prose and video blogging, she explores themes that include the intersection of race and Christianity, womanhood, love and relationships, inspiration, and authenticity of personhood. She runs Basement Chronicles, an inspirational video blog on FB, IG and YouTube. In addition to her first poetry chapbook, Sani Baat: A Voice Throwing, she has released several poetry performances on Facebook and YouTube.
Vladimir Lucien is a writer, actor and critic from Saint Lucia. His writing has been published in The Caribbean Review of Books, Wasafiri, Small Axe journal, The PN Review, BIM magazine, Caribbean Beat, The Washington Square Review, Poetry International, VOGUE and other journals. He was awarded the first prize in the poetry category of the Small Axe prize 2013 and the 2015 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for Sounding Ground (Peepal Tree Press, 2014), the youngest to ever win the prize. Lucien has been featured at the Jaipur Literature Festival, the Read My World Festival in Amsterdam, Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica, and the Miami Book Fair.
Jack Wang is the author of the story collection We Two Alone, winner of the Danuta Gleed Literary Award from the Writers’ Union of Canada for best debut collection in English. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune calls We Two Alone a collection of "finely crafted stories" with "carefully wrought characters [who] grapple with their own ambitions and failures, an all-consuming battle he captures beautifully." The judges of the Danuta Gleed Award describe Wang as "a profoundly talented writer who cares deeply about what it means to be human in turbulent times.” Jack Wang's fiction has appeared in Brick, PRISM international, The Malahat Review, The New Quarterly, The Humber Literary Review, and Joyland. He is a recipient of the David T. K. Wong Creative Writing Fellowship at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, and a fellowship from The New York Foundation for the Arts.
Nahid Rachlin attended writing programs at Columbia University (on a Doubleday-Columbia Fellowship) and Stanford University (on a Wallace Stegner Fellowship). Her publications include the memoir Persian Girls (Penguin), a short story collection, Veils (City Lights), and four novels, including Foreigner (Norton) and Married to a Stranger (E.P. Dutton-Penguin). Her short stories have appeared widely in magazines, such as Virginia Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, and Nimrod, and on NPR’s Selected Shorts, performed at New York’s Symphony Space. Her interviews have appeared in Poets & Writers and AWP’s Writer’s Chronicle and on NPR’s Fresh Air. Her numerous awards include a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Pen Syndicated Fiction Project award. Rachlin’s books have been translated into multiple languages, and she has spoken widely at writers’ conferences from Paris to Geneva to Taos. She has taught at Yale, Barnard College, Southampton College, and Warren Wilson College and currently teaches creative writing at The New School.
David Mills holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and an MA from New York University, both in creative writing. He has published four collections: The Dream Detective, The Sudden Country, After Mistic, and most recently Boneyarn. His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Brooklyn Rail, Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review, Jubilat, Callaloo, Obsidian, and Fence. He has also received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Breadloaf, The American Antiquarian Society, and the Lannan Foundation. He lived in Langston Hughes’ landmark Harlem home for three years (and as an actor performs a one-person show of Hughes’ works). He has also recorded his poetry on ESPN and RCA Records.
Sven Birkerts is a renowned literary critic, editor, reviewer, memoirist and essayist. He has edited AGNI since 1992. Among his fifteen books are the recent Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age (Graywolf Press, 2015), The Other Walk (Graywolf Press, 2011), Art of Time in Memoir: (Graywolf Press, 2008). His other books include The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age (Faber & Faber), Readings (Graywolf Press, 1999), and his memoir My Sky Blue Trades: Growing Up Counter in a Contrary Time (Viking, 2002). He won the Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle and the Spielvogel-Diamonstein Award from PEN. Birkerts has reviewed regularly for The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, The Yale Review, and other publications. He has taught writing at Harvard University, Emerson College, and Amherst and has been Briggs-Copeland lecturer in nonfiction at Harvard. He directed the Bennington Writing Seminars and has been a member of the core faculty since 1994.
Link to Vladimir Nabokov's Speak, Memory
Jaimee Wriston Colbert is the author of the story collection Wild Things (BkMk Press 2016); Shark Girls (Livingston Press 2009); Dream Lives of Butterflies, which won the gold medal in the 2008 Independent Publisher Awards; Climbing the God Tree, winner of the Willa Cather Fiction Prize; and the story collection Sex, Salvation, and the Automobile, winner of the Zephyr Publishing Prize. She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Binghamton University, State University of New York.
Book link for Wild Things
Book link for Vanishing Acts
Book link for Shark Girls
Beth Alvarado, who has written extensively about her experiences as a Euro- American woman marrying into a Mexican-American family, has spent most of her life in Arizona. Her essay collection Anxious Attachments, an Oregon Book Award winner, was long-listed for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Art of the Essay Award. Beth is also the author of Anthropologies: A Family Memoir, and the short story collection Not a Matter of Love.
Roger W. Hecht's poetry has been published widely in literary journals including Diagram, Denver Quarterly, Puerto del Sol, and Sheila-na-gig. His poetry collections include Talking Pictures (Cervena Barva Press) and the recently released Witness Report (Finishing Line Press). He has also published two edited collections of historical writing: The Erie Canal Reader (Syracuse UP) and Freemen Awake: Rally Songs and Poems from New York's Anti-Rent Movement (DCHA Press). When he's not teaching literature and creative writing at SUNY Oneonta, he's playing drums with the blues band Off the Rails.
Watch Roger's YouTube video
Syrian-American Rana Bitar is a doctor by day and writer by night. Her memoir The Long Tale of Tears and Smiles (unpublished) and her 2019 collection of poems, A Loaf of Bread, embrace both the losses of her upbringing and home in Syria and struggles to make a new life in America. A practicing oncologist and hematologist, Rana earned her Master’s in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University in 2017. Her poetry appeared in The Deadly Writers Patrol, DoveTales, Earthen Lamp Journal, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and elsewhere. A Loaf Of Bread (Unsolicited Press 2019) was a finalist in the Concrete Wolf Chapbook Competition (2017), and won honorable mention in The Louis Award for poetry (2017).
Watch Rana's YouTube video
Alice Lichtenstein graduated from Brown University and received her MFA from Boston University where she was named the BU Fellow in Fiction. She has received a New York Foundation of the Arts Grant in Fiction and has twice been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony. Her novels include The Genius of the World and Lost, and, most recently, The Crime of Being, which has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Tom Holmes is the editor of Redactions: Poetry & Poetics and the author of three full-length collections of poetry, most recently The Cave (winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013), as well as four chapbooks. He graduated from SUNY Oneonta with a BS in English in 1992. His writings about wine, poetry book reviews, and poetry can be found at his blog, The Line Break: thelinebreak.wordpress.com/. Twitter: @TheLineBreak
Suzanne Cleary’s fourth poetry book, Crude Angel, was published in 2018 by BkMk Press (University of Missouri-Kansas City). Beauty Mark (BkMk 2013) won the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry. Recipient of a Pushcart Prize, her other awards include the Cecil Hemley Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of America, a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and residencies at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. Her publication credits include the journals The Atlantic, Georgia Review, and Poetry London, and anthologies including Best American Poetry. Her website is suzanneclearypoet.com
Jim McCord is an emeritus professor of English at Union College whose poems have appeared in a variety of literary journals and four books. Carol McCord is a lifelong hiker and former yoga instructor. Her photographs have been selected for exhibitions and publications in the United States and abroad.
Bertha Rogers is a poet, visual artist, and educator. Her published poetry collections include Wild, Again (Salmon, Ireland); Heart Turned Back (Salmon, Ireland); Even the Hemlock: Poems, Illuminations, Reliquaries; and several chapbooks. Her translation of the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf was published in 2000, and her translation with illuminations of the Anglo-SaxonRiddle-Poems from the Exeter Book, Uncommon Creatures, Singing Things, was out in 2019. In 1992, with her late husband, Ernest M. Fishman, she founded Bright Hill Press & Literary Center of the Catskills, a literary organization; she retired as executive director in 2017.
Robert Bensen has published six collections of poetry, most recently Before (Five Oaks Press), and Orenoque, Wetumka & Other Poems (Bright Hill Press). Poems have appeared in Agni, Akwe:kon, Antioch Review, Callaloo, Caribbean Writer, Jamaica Journal, Native Realities, Paris Review, Partisan Review, Poetry Wales, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Thomas Hardy Review, and many others. His work has earned an NEA poetry fellowship, the Robert Penn Warren Award, the Harvard Summer Poetry Prize, and Illinois Arts Council and NY State Council on the Arts awards. He has edited anthologies of Caribbean and Native American writing, including Children of the Dragonfly: Native American Voices on Child Custody and Education (Univ. of Arizona Press). He is Emeritus Professor of English at Hartwick College.