SHP Annual Chapbook Contest Winners
Slapering Hol Press annual chapbook contest winners, promising new poets whose had not yet appeared in book form, have gone on to achieve success in publishing and elsewhere. Read more about this history here.
2021: Andrea Deeken
Thank you to all the authors who entered the 2021 Slapering Hol Press (SHP) Poetry Chapbook Contest.
This year’s winning chapbook manuscript is MOTHER KINGDOM by Andrea Deeken. Andrea was born in rural Missouri and has lived in the Pacific Northwest for most of her adult life. She holds a BA from Drake University and an MS in Writing and Publishing from Portland State University. Her writing has appeared in The Cereal Box Review, Periphery, The Bear Deluxe, Spoon River Poetry Review, and The Blue Mountain Review. Awards include Richard Hugo House Writing Contest First Place; Arts and Letters Creative Nonfiction Finalist; and Honorable Mention in the 2019 Spoon River Poetry Review Editors’ Prize Contest, among others. Most recently, she received second place in the 2020 Blue Mountain Review LGBTQ Chapbook Contest. A former book editor, she has worked in libraries for more than ten years. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her wife and daughter.
Was it when I followed my father to the fields
his back hunched, searching for arrowheads
my feet sinking in the newly turned earth?
Or was it seeing my mother from the doorway
her back waning crescent in the dark?
Words came easily to me then
alone with paper, my mind a sweet shadow,
time a soft blanket around my shoulders.
But coming out my mouth they choked
and stumbled, my face the crushed
color of cherries stuck
to the bottom of a boot.
When I told my father I was gay he was chopping
radishes, their red skins half moons
on the cutting board, little gleams of white
a promise worth keeping.
His careful hands slicing, their rough wintered edges
that held so many things: dogs, babies,
stones the color of starlight,
my wild heart, beating
the knife’s calm rhythm, What can I fix you to eat?
My mother was not so easy,
her face pinched pale in the thick dark
of her bedroom, thin covers a moat
of righteous limbs and I the only sinner.
Even now, all these years later, my heart closes
when I hear her voice.
Today it’s cold but the crocuses are coming up,
ochre pollen petals small as thimbles.
Soon the geese will head back north,
their black wings cutting through soundless cloud.
— Andrea Deeken, originally published by Spoon River Poetry Review (2019)
The runner-up is SHE HAS DREAMT AGAIN OF WATER by Stephanie Niu. Stephanie is a poet from Marietta, Georgia who earned her degrees in symbolic systems and computer science from Stanford University. Her poems have appeared in The Southeast Review, Poets Reading the News, Storm Cellar, and Portland Review. She works as a product manager in New York City.
My mother calls herself our trash heap.
She eats what we won’t, grows plump
on our leftover eggs, bread crusts,
the bitter-hearted lotus seeds we cannot stomach.
We have small appetites. Waiting for us is eating,
cutting slice after slice of pumpkin bread
until all the bowls are clean.
No one wants to be garbage, she says,
but look what I do for you.
In archaeology a trash heap is called a midden.
It means you’ve struck gold. What better map
to the way people lived than the things they discarded.
Oysters shells, chicken bones, bits of green glass,
cups, bowls, pickle forks, shoe leather
miraculously intact beneath the dirt.
The trash is what they ate, what they used,
what they could not afford to throw away.
No buttons. No jewelry. In a California midden
where Chinese laborers lived they found
a single bottle for baby formula, cracked.
The glass so old it is flaking, iridescent,
like spilt oil or dragonfly wings catching light.
My mother does not like the way she looks.
In the dressing room she pinches the flesh
around her face. If someone loved me more,
maybe I wouldn’t gain weight.
When a whale dies and sinks to the sea floor,
a world emerges to devour it. Hagfish come first,
faceless mouths chewing at the skin.
Then larger fish, sharks even, their eyes
rolling as they tear into the flesh.
A fallen whale sustains this ecosystem for years.
Even its skeleton becomes a home.
My mother talks of death often— her knees hurt,
she cannot sleep, her eyes worsen each day.
Put my body in the earth, she says,
breaking sunflower seeds after dinner.
I do not want to become food.
— Stephanie Niu, originally published by Portland Review (2020)
This year’s finalists are:
PLANT by Bonnie Jill Emanuel
PRAYER DOWN DEPOT ROAD
I can’t sleep, America.
The coal cars vibrate, bulky
behind the roadhouse where I stay,
drum by the room at midnight.
At one. Rattle past this insomnia.
A yellow moon stares in the windows.
Spotlight on dreams twisted in a cotton bedcover.
The yellow moon over the railroad shed
shines down the lanky clotheslines,
across cornfields that look like glory
look like patchwork brown flags.
I can’t sleep, America.
I can’t sleep as if anything matters.
Sing me a song yellow moon.
An enamel fan, painted-chipped,
whirs the smell of diesel mixed with the sea—
an America poem poem
blowing in & out of my face.
— Bonnie Jill Emanuel, originally published in Midwest Review 5
QUERIDAS TIAS by Luisa Caycedo-Kimura
El Jardín de las Tías
the ants crawled on our bodies
when we least expected
bit and burned
as they went along
a child dozed beneath the bed
in a soiled diaper mamá cried
and looked for him
snails disappeared under clovers
violets decorated our arms
and we hid behind leaves
large and green
like the ones in the bible
in the ferns a fallen hibiscus
in the armoire mother’s mother’s
bones removed from the earth
before i was born
ash wednesday mamá and tías
prayed the rosary césar said
abuela must be happy
in heaven without her stiff legs
mario buried a tibia by a guava tree
tía adela screamed
niños mocosos how could you
her fingers left scarlet marks
on our arms the maids
gave us soursop juice told us the story
of a woman who drowned
her children wept for them
by the river every night
three o’clock the house was calm
because there was no papá
— Luisa Cayedo-Kimura, originally published by Mid-American Review, Volume XXXV, No. 1, 35th Anniversary Issue
THAT DARK CENTER by Lisa Rosinsky
Today your dad and grandpa are fixing the deck
while I watch from the nursing chair.
Curled against my chest, you sleep
as close as you can get to the warm belly
that carried you crammed among
my organs until you came wailing
out between my legs. “Came out”—
I mean to say, I pushed you,
with muscles that still ache
two months later. There was blood,
vomit, excrement. To be away from you
makes me frantic—my body knows
what’s missing, aches for you as urgently
as you root for the nipple. Visceral:
from viscus, internal, intestinal,
stickiness, heft: your small weight on my chest
while your father and his father rip up the old boards,
strip the rot, pound nails, sturdying
this house against the coming snows.
That would be the easy place to end
the poem: a new family shoring itself up,
cozy, safe. But that isn’t where it ends.
Nothing just comes into this world.
Your heartbeats echo on my breastbone
as you sleep, our muscles
pumping blood we used to share.
My body will pull towards you always now,
as my mother’s did, and my mother’s
mother’s, and nothing is what it was before.
— Lisa Rosinksy, originally published by Beltway Poetry Quarterly
ONE LIFE TO LIVE by Cynthia White
From her private room in detox,
my mother’s view is solid
philodendron. Fronds like green shields.
In the submarine light, we speak selectively—
Philip Roth, the sweet final films of Truffaut.
Today, I watch a beetle trundle up a fleshy stalk,
armored and unswerving. He’s straight out of her
delirium with wicked little horns. My mother
wears a silver shamrock to ward off evil,
swallows whatever she’s given.
I never could protect her.
She eyes the beetle, raps twice on the glass.
— Cynthia White, originally published by The Adroit Journal (2021)
BLUE by Connor Poff
After Garth Brooks’ “The River”
I struggle with the sentiment that a dream
encircles us—that the river, the Great
Miami, once sustained us,
once was a force greater than a graveyard
Beyond us, the river ascends, becomes
the Ohio River, Mississippi River, Gulf
of Mexico, an ocean with unexplored depths.
Here, it flows mostly into stagnant canals,
scars carved into town by industry’s
descent, after outsourced steel and paper
nullified the need for freight transport.
Undrinkable, the dream trickles out
beside our streets, in a horseshoe bordering
the community park, and floating in it:
— Connor Poff, originally published by Volney Road Review (2019)
2020: Aaron Caycedo-Kimura
Thank you to all the authors who entered the 2020 Slapering Hol Press (SHP) Poetry Chapbook Contest.
This year’s winning chapbook manuscript is UBASUTE, by Aaron Caycedo-Kimura. He is a poet and visual artist. He is the author of two poetry collections: Ubasute, which won the 2020 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition, and the full-length collection Common Grace, forthcoming from Beacon Press in Fall 2022. His honors include a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship in Poetry, a St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award in Literature, and nominations for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets anthologies. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, upstreet, Verse Daily, DMQ Review, Poet Lore, The Night Heron Barks, and elsewhere. Aaron earned his MFA in creative writing from Boston University and is also the author and illustrator of Text, Don’t Call: An Illustrated Guide to the Introverted Life (TarcherPerigee, 2017).
“I knew there was something special about Slapering Hol Press when I first read their chapbook competition guidelines. The care and respect the press has for writers was clearly evident. I couldn’t have been happier with my experience and the way my chapbook turned out. The editors, advisory committee, and staff were all wonderful—encouraging, supportive, generous—and continue to be so.”
— Aaron Caycedo-Kimura
2019: Liz Marlow
Thank you to all the authors who entered the 2019 Slapering Hol Press (SHP) Poetry Chapbook Contest. This year’s winning chapbook manuscript is They Become Stars, a harrowing and lyrical account of the Holocaust. We are proud to welcome Liz Marlow as a Slapering Hol Press poet. Her poetry has been published in Body,Flyway, Glass, and Permafrost Magazine. She lives in Germantown, Tennessee with her husband and children.
The first 2019 SHP Chapbook runner-up is Opening the Hive by Amanda Moore. Amanda Moore’s poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies including ZZYZVA, Cream City Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Best New Poets, and Mamas and Papas: On the Sublime and Heartbreaking Art of Parenting, and she is the recipient of writing awards from The Writing Salon, Brush Creek Arts Foundation, and The Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. She received her MFA from Cornell University, where she served as Managing Editor for EPOCH magazine and a lecturer in the John S. Knight Writing Institute. A high school English teacher, Amanda lives by the beach with her husband and daughter in the Outer Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco.
Our second runner-up is Riddles of Flock and Bone by W. J. Herbert. Herbert was awarded the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize, Second Prize in the Morton Marr Poetry Competition, and was selected as finalist in the Atlanta Review, Arts and Letters, American Literary Review, Madison Review, and Flyway Literary Prizes. Her poetry, fiction, and reviews appear, or are forthcoming, in Alaska Quarterly Review, Antioch Review, Boulevard, Best American Poetry 2017, Salamander, Southwest Review, and others. She lives in Portland, Maine.
The 2019 SHP Finalists are:
- BECAUSE I KNOW YOU KNOW THIS DARKNESS by Amanda Moore
- DEAD/NOT DEAD by Pamela Carter
They Become Stars was published in March 2020. Contest entrants receive a 30% discount from the cover price. For more information about this publication or for details about the 2020 SHP contest please call us at 914-332-5953, e-mail [email protected].
You can buy SHP chapbooks in our bookstore.
2018: Rebecca Doverspike
Rebecca Doverspike is currently finishing an Mdiv at Harvard Divinity School focused on Buddhism and interfaith hospital chaplaincy. She grew up in the Wisconsin, wherein began a lifelong love for trees, books, deep conversations, long walks, and bike rides. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from West Virginia University. Her chapbook, Every Present Thing a Ghost, was published in March 2019 by Slapering Hol Press. Previous work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ruminate, Leveler, Souvenir Lit Journal, Midwest Review, Valley Voices, and Periphery among others. While studying in Boston she has also loved hiking in the White Mountains, practicing at Greater Boston Zen Center, and walking her dog on old streets where roots crack through the brick. Upon graduation she will continue chaplaincy training in a residency program at Massachusetts General Hospital.
You can buy this and other SHP chapbooks in our bookstore.
2017: Lillo Way
Lillo Way’s poetry collection, “Lend Me Your Wings,” described by Ellen Bass as “rich in music and in imagination…a celebration and a joy”, was released July 2021 by Shanti Arts Publishing. Her chapbook, “Dubious Moon,” won the Hudson Valley Writers Center’s Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Contest. Her poems have won the E.E. Cummings Award and a Florida Review Editors’ Prize. Her writing has appeared in New Letters, Poet Lore, Tampa Review, Louisville Review, Poetry East, among others. Way has received grants from the NEA, NY State Council on the Arts, and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation for her choreographic work involving poetry. www.lilloway.com
You can buy this and other SHP chapbooks in our bookstore.
The moon’s grown fat and I’m suspicious
because several stars have gone missing,
the sky’s an evil shade of black,
and someone’s stolen every leaf, leaving
nothing but bleached tree-skeletons
pointing bony fingers at the culprit.
Some people claim they’ve never seen the moon
perfectly full. But I’ve caught it that way
countless times, like tonight. Those of us
with poor eyesight are the beneficiaries
of such gifts. Without my glasses, I get seven
moons overlapping. An embarrassment of moons.
Looking through the edge of my glasses,
the upper curve of moon is scarlet
and the bottom is blue. I get prism moons
into the blind bargain.
The lake below is a sparkling mess,
a waste bin for phosphorescent fallen stars
and the mirrored moon causes a blinding glare,
as if I needed one.
—Lillo Way, originally published in The Meadow, 2017
The Editors and the Slapering Hol Press Advisory Committee congratulate the 2017 Finalists for their fine work:
Glean by Patrick James Errington
Patrick James Errington is a poet and translator from the prairies of Alberta, Canada. His poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies, including Best New Poets 2016, The Iowa Review, West Branch, Diagram, Copper Nickel, Horsethief, and Boston Review. Most recently, he won The London Magazine Poetry Prize, 2016, and was highly commended in The 2016 National Poetry Competition (UK). His French translation of PJ Harvey’s The Hollow of the Hand, with Laure Gall, was published by Éditions l’Âge d’Homme in 2017. Patrick currently lives in Scotland, where he is a doctoral researcher at the University of St Andrews.
To see the world is to still it. I watch
you, rising, watermarked, from the bath
and I offer you a towel and
permanence. Your hands aflicker
over your body, but you are always
rising to me; in the smallest
motes of you there’s still such
possibility. You are received. The mirror
takes you in like a mother, folding
you. If I squint, the light lights
like dust on your shoulders, heavy
enough to bend. Famished
of tense, could you have been anything
but brittle? Feel the warp of breath.
But a season exists without, the bathwater
set into place, mortise and tendon, by our
leaving, rippled because only you
have felt it lick your ankles. Tense
collapses around us—but you, you’re still
rising. Beyond your body, the sun
sinks, ponderous with everything
you have been, will be, bear. Promise
me, somewhere, a girl
is still committing a small act
of love, quietly, cruelly
in the dark that will last forever.
—Patrick James Errington, originally published in the Flambard International Prize Prizewinner’s Anthology (University of Newcastle Press, 2015)
But Pink, But Want, But Blue by Sara Ryan
Sara Ryan is a second-year poetry MFA candidate at Northern Michigan University and an associate poetry editor for Passages North. Her work has been published in or is forthcoming from Storm Cellar, Tinderbox, Slice Magazine, New South, Third Coast, Fairy Tale Review, and The Blueshift Journal.
Pantoum for Dark Lands
after Aase Berg
it is my fear that tears apart the place.
apart the strange, apart the fat rose
in its muddy bed. tears the cave in two.
a wild hare bleats until its neck bleeds.
apart the strange, apart the fat rose
unraveling its petals into glass. this:
a wild hare bleats until its neck bleeds.
a catastrophe that has already happened—
unraveling its petals into glass. this:
avoiding it. bringing it back and dissecting it,
the catastrophe that has already happened,
where I forget all the dead animals.
avoiding it. bringing it back and dissecting it—
it is my fear that tears apart the place,
where I forget all the dead animals
in their muddy beds. tearing the cave in two.
—Sara Ryan, originally published at Tinderbox Poetry Journal (tinderboxpoetry.com)
2016: Spree MacDonald
Into the ‘headwaters of hurt’ is where Spree MacDonald takes us, between branches that overhang and roots that trip, with a jambalaya of words and references that in the end prove the only way out of here. This writer uses his own weaknesses, his ‘blunder toe,’ to navigate a treacherous landscape, bringing the whole country to bear witness to the swamp living in its belly. At play with sound and music, he charges into this ‘labor hood of Atlantis,’ this ‘poorly lit paradise.’ Here is a spirit, wise, but not jaded, chided, but not overruled. Milksop Codicil is a poetic trance, full of bayou magic, and common sense.
—Mervyn Taylor, author of The Waving Gallery
A stunning contribution, and a gift of rare honey in rock hard times. McDonald combs through the ruins of empire, and environmental collapse with a punishing clarity to make something torn and new. Few thinkers have written so deftly of whiteness from within, and McDonald’s keen ear for the rites of black joy is a testimony to what a politics of love might sound like. This poetry dances us into revolution.
—Tsitsi Jaji, author of Beating the Graves and Africa in Stereo
You can buy this book and other SHP chapbooks in our bookstore.
Colony Collapse Syndrome
as we squat through slum
rise slum set
in this labor hood of Atlantis
I wonder how much sun one needs
to see to say she’s seen it set
this life in the house of bees
a simple stock fortified by light
oblique as it ends it seems
she gathers strength in fading
don’t just expect to die
she sighs but
know that you’ll also be
these are the stories the dead
one night in exile
she made small circles
with her heels in the bed sheet
like a finger over crystal lips
she swirled until a slow-found
center coalesced into a sugar storm
flowed over our hovel
at the top of the stairs
so much unwaged
off into the wallpaper
it’s true it smelled
of boxes in there
soft power and echo chamber music
the semiotics of assault rifles
our shoulders dry rubbed
with anesthetic saltrash
now this poorly lit paradise
a Molotov wick soaking
in the oily abyss
so many small engines after dark
charge hard between herbicide lines in
febrile fight or flight
it seems this coast is the same
latitude as my dreams
I’m tired for tomorrow
—from Milksop Codicil, SHP, February 2017; Originally published in Warscapes
The Editors and The Slapering Hol Press Advisory Committee congratulate the 2016 Finalists for their fine work:
My Coney Island by Susan Oringel
My Milosz Dream
…how difficult it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will —Czeslaw Milosz
She left—the former owner—but left
junk cars and lumber on the lawn,
ball gowns and dishes dispersed
and the woodstove with incense burning.
The doors swung open to all her friends—
they didn’t need keys
and came to chat about the good old days.
She even left a daughter, my old self,
a surly girl who whined each time I tried
to make it my own home. And I whined back,
I bought this place, but everyone
told me gravely, I was wrong.
A country house on a hill, acreage,
intended escape, but this was a way station
for neighbors; a tiny urban ghetto nestled close,
armies of boys wheeled around on bikes,
men in fatigues with guns darted through streets:
shouts, sounds of breaking glass.
Safe, safe, I muttered, shooing neighbors out.
I rammed an old oak table against the kitchen door,
piled up wooden chairs. Then ran and shoved the sofa
behind the front, a bureau stuffed with keepsakes
in front of that. By sunset I’d hammered shut
all the windows, when I heard the knock.
An elderly voice, accented and gentle,
asked me to let him in. I sat transfixed;
he found the one door I’d forgot. Entered
in a long gray coat, kissed my forehead, and said,
Yes, it’s difficult, those guests—still, it’s your house.
—NCTE English Journal
Time’s Window, Open by Karen Steinmetz
The huntress, our guiding spirit,
leads us to a meadow, bird-ful,
bounded. We are nimble with hope.
Do not torment her.
Morning finds me avid & fearful,
demon future balanced. Each trifle, windfall
or curse. Love’s ballast holds us almost steady,
vessel just dream stuff.
To a tiny, indigo Accidental,
palmed & banded, frailty is total, given,
awful. It can’t escape the hand enfolding,
winged though it is.
Acrimony, jealousy, spiteful riffing,
rued as soon as spoken, remembered ever.
Like the scorpion’s skitter, its bloodless caress—
numbing & fatal.
I could savage vows today, let me love you
even angry. I have true deeds to kinder
places. Threading rooms of
No less beautiful than Orion falling
down from heaven’s roost to the morning, husband,
is your homing, hunt ended, hearth-fires calling
you from the outlands.
—Still Against War V: Poems for Marie Ponsot, Published by Jamie Stern and Nan Lombardi, 2015.
Orange, Dreaming by K. T. Landon
An Andalusian Dog
Once is enough for Buñuel’s Chien,
because even if you know now it was a dead calf
or a dead pig or a dead donkey,
at the time you thought it was an old, blind dog
and now the truth and the belief exist side by side,
just as your nineteen-year-old self, weeping for that dog,
still cries inside your fifty-year-old self,
pitying that foolish sophomore and, OK,
maybe never the same river twice but still,
always the same you, only more so.
Always the same little sister
in the red wool coat that matches yours,
your mother in her white uniform
laughing and talking in the tiny kitchen,
the same father home from work
with a package from the fish market that’s still moving.
The days are never wholly over,
and the losses pile up but you lean into them,
you think you’ve learned to take it. You’re fifty—
get over it—and still nineteen and still five,
and your little sister wakes up from a dream
screaming that the lobsters are in her bed,
and your mother is trying to show her there are no lobsters
and your father is yelling (your father is always yelling)
and you and your sister are both crying and you have no clue
that it will be you who tells the hospital yes,
take her corneas, and they will slice them from her eyes.
You won’t be there but you can imagine it,
and though you know she won’t feel it—
it wasn’t the actress, after all, or even the dog—
still you cry, and you are fifty and your sister is dead,
and you are nineteen and bawling in French 103,
and you are five and there are no lobsters
and your sister is right there
beside you in the room you share,
whispering to you in the dark.
—winner, 2013 Arts and Letters PRIME Poetry Prize
Childbed Fever by Kelly Rowe
Slapering Hol Press is also pleased to announce
the 2015 reprint of The Scottish Café, by Susana H.Case, first published in 2002.
Nobel Prize-winning chemist from Cornell University, poet Roald Hoffmann says of the chapbook,
The Scottish Café is a wonderful evocation of a special place, a time, and the interactions of mathematicians. The premonitions of doom weigh on this wonderful gathering, as they should. It’s excellent poetry!
Poet, editor, and critic, Paul Zimmer in the Georgia Review adds,
it is the kind of necessary, cautionary tale of a life once lived, but lost under overwhelming conditions that our heedless, instant-media age needs to be told.
All SHP Authors
[click on the images to read more]
Susana H. Case
Nancy Taylor Everett