Submission Guidelines


Competition Winners


Sample Issue



February 2015: Tavel Publishes Collection. Sow’s Ear contributor Adam Tavel writes to share the good news that his collection Plash & Levitation, which won the Permafrost Book Prize, has just been published by the University of Alaska Press. It contains the poem “Marlboro Purslane,” which originally appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of Sow’s Ear.

Adam invites us to visit http://adamtavel.com/books-2/plash-levitation/ for more information.

December 2014:  Judge John Brehm Chooses Jeanne Wagner’s Poem in 2014 Poetry Competition.  Though he mentioned that all of the top three finalists were fine poems that deserved to win, John Brehm has chosen Jeanne Wagner’s “Oppenheimer’s House” as the winner of the 2014 Sow’s Ear Poetry Competition.  Wagner won $1000 and publication in the Review.  First runner-up is James Zimmerman’s “Těte-ā-Těte with a Walnut Meat” and second runner-up is Steve Lautermilch’s “Nocturne on St. Lucy’s Day.”

 About Wagner’s poem, Brehm writes, “I love many things about it but most of all the voice—relaxed, natural, yet supple and subtly musical—and the mind that voice embodies….It’s a brilliant, complex, seemingly effortless performance.”

 Wagner, who lives in Kensington, California, is the recipient of several national awards, including the 2013 Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award and the Hayden’s Ferry 500/500 Award.  Her poems have appeared in such journals as Alaska Quarterly Review, Cincinnati Review, and Valparaiso, as well as in American Life in Poetry.  Her most recent collection is In the Body of our Lives (2011).  She is on the editorial staff of California Quarterly.


Coyla Barry, “I Heard it From Leda Herself”

Barbara Conrad, “I Went There with My Boyfriend at the Time, We Overheard a Woman Say as We Pass Her in the Park”

Melissa Fournier, “Lupines”
Kim Garcia, “This Remains”
Connie Jordan Green, “Seeing”
Matt Hohner, “1984”
Ruth Moon Kempher, “Harbor, at Night”
Laura King, “Appalachian Trail” and “Polishing the Copper Kettle, in Heels”
Jeffrey Kingman, “The Traveling Voice”
Susanna Lang, “Lenses”
Steve Lautermilch, “Nocturne on St. Lucy’s Day”
Frannie Lindsay, “Apple Juice” and “Improvisation for a Friend in a Time of Sorrow”
Berwyn Moore, “Epistle to the Rats”
Anne Johnson Mullin, “Resurrection”
Laura Read, “Renaissance Body”
Diane Scholl, “Starry Night”
Jeanne Wagner, “Oppenheimer’s House”
Ingrid Wendt, “Great-Tailed Grackle”
Josephine Yu, “Conception Psalm”
James Zimmerman, “Těte-ā-Tĕte with a Walnut Meat”
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October 2014: Judy Halebsky’s Tree Line Published. A new book of poems by Judy Halebsky is reason for celebration, indeed. Tree Line appeared earlier this year from New Issues Poetry and Prose, out of Western Michigan University. We’re particularly pleased to see “Dig Me up at the Riverbed,” which we published in Sow’s Ear in 2012. Halebsky was a reader, with Mark DeFoe, in our 2010 Taste of Poetry series.

Judy Halebsky is also the author of the poetry collection Sky=Empty and the chapbook Space/Gap/Interval/Distance. Originally from Nova Scotia, she lives in Oakland and teaches at the Dominican University of California.

July 2014: Danielle Deulen Wins 2014 Chapbook Contest. Judge Sam Rasnake has selected Danielle Cadena Deulen’s manuscript titled American Libretto as the winner of the 2014 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Chapbook Competition. She receives a prize of $1000 and twenty-five copies of her chapbook, copies of which will be distributed to Sow’s Ear subscribers in spring 2015.

First Runner-up is Tales of the Sisters by Kim Garcia and Second Runner-up is To Enter Here, You Have to Stop by Russell Susumu Endo. A list of finalists is provided below.

Deulen, who lives in Cincinnati, is the author of a collection of poems, Lovely Asunder (Univ. of Arkansas, 2011), which won the Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize and the Utah Book Award. She has also published a memoir, The Riots (Univ. of Georgia, 2011), which won the AWP Prize in Creative Nonfiction and the GLCA New Writers Award. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Nimrod, North American Review, The Missouri Review and The Kenyon Review (KROnline). She teaches in the graduate and undergraduate Creative Writing Programs at the University of Cincinnati.


Charles Atkinson, River Tooth’s Advice

Danielle Cadena Deulen, American Libretto

Russell Susumu Endo, To Enter Here, You Have to Stop

Kim Garcia, Tales of the Sisters

Victoria Givotovsky, I am Sarah

Marc Hudson, Humbolt in the Kosmos

Nikia Leopold, Healing With Shadows

Donald Levering, For a Glass Harp Player

Mary B. Moore, Eating the Light

Christopher Munde, Specula

July 2014: Fifth Annual “A Taste of Poetry” Readers Are Malin, Scafidi, McBride and Collier. The fifth annual “A Taste of Poetry” series will feature Stephen Malin and Steve Scafidi on Saturday, August 16 and Greg McBride and Michael Collier on Saturday, October 18. The readings will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Shenandoah Arts Council (SAC) gallery, 811 S. Loudoun St., Winchester, VA.

Stephen Malin , who lives in Westminster, MD, is Emeritus Professor at the University of Memphis, where he founded and directed its Playwriting program. His poems have appeared not only in Sow’s Ear but in such journals as Antioch Review, Green Mountains Review, Sewanee Review, Poetry Southeast and Lyrical Voices. A group of his poems was translated into Russian and bilingually published abroad in Amerika Illustrated. In June 2014, WordTech Communications published a collection titled Underlight.

A reader in our inaugural series in 2010, Steve Scafidi is the author of four collections of poetry: Sparks from a Nine-Pound Hammer (2001), For Love of Common Words (2006), and The Cabinetmaker’s Window and To the Bramble and the Briar, both in 2014. His poems have appeared in Southern Review, American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner and other magazines. He has a BA from Virginia Commonwealth University and an MFA from Arizona State. Born in Loudoun County, VA, he currently works as a cabinetmaker and lives in Summit Point, WV.

Greg McBride was the winner of the 2012 Liam Rector First Book Prize for his collection Porthole. He also published a chapbook, Back of the Envelope in 2009. His work has appeared in Gettysburg Review, River Styx, Salmagundi and elsewhere, and his awards include the Boulevard Emerging Poet Prize and a grant in poetry from the Maryland State Arts Council. A former wrestler at Princeton, a Vietnam veteran and retired federal Department of Transportation lawyer, he lives in Silver Spring, MD, and edits The Innisfree Poetry Journal.

Bread Loaf Writers Conference director Michael Collier teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Maryland. He was Poet Laureate of Maryland from 2001-2004 and has been the recipient of fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Society of America and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His most recent collection of poems is An Individual History (2012). The Ledge (2000) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He has published a translation of Medea as well as a collection of essays, Make Us Wave Back (2007).

The event, sponsored by Sow’s Ear Poetry Review and SAC, begins with a reception at 7:00 p.m. offering luscious sweet and savory treats, along with wine, beer and soft drinks.

June 2014: Borowicz Publishes New Collection. It’s a great pleasure for us to hear that a poem we published in Sow’s Ear Poetry Review has made its way into a book—often a manuscript that has won a prize. We’ve recently learned that Karina Borowicz has just published a collection titled Proof, which won the Codhill Poetry Award. It contains the poem “Blake,” originally published in the Review. It is available online from SUNY Press, Codhill Press and Amazon; it can also be ordered through your local bookseller.

June 2014: Fall 2014 Contest Judge is John Brehm. Following in a long line of distinguished American poets to judge our annual fall Poetry Competition, John Brehm has agreed to be our judge in 2014.

Brehm was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, and educated at the University of Nebraska and Cornell. He is the author of a chapbook The Way Water Moves (2002), and Sea of Faith (2004) and Help is On the Way (2012), the latter two from the University of Wisconsin Press. His poems have also appeared in journals such as Poetry, The Gettysburg Review, The Southern Review and Boulevard. He is the associate editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry. He has taught at Cornell, Emerson College and Portland State University. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

The postmark deadline for the fall 2014 contest is November 1. See Submission Guidelines on our website.

February 2014: New Books by Sow’s Ear Contributors. We’re happy to report the publication of books by Grant Clauser and Daniel Harris, containing poems originally published in Sow’s Ear Poetry Review.

Clauser’s new book, Necessary Myths, published late in 2013 by Broadkill River Press, was the winner of the 2013 Dogfish Head Poetry Prize. It contains the poem “Struck Three Times by Lightning,” originally published in Sow’s Ear under the title “Lightning.” Daniel Harris, Professor Emeritus of English and Jewish Studies at Rutgers, has recently published Random Unisons, his second volume of poems; Loose Parlance was published in 2008. The new book contains “The Ascetics,” which first appeared in Sow’s Ear.

February 2014: Arne Weingart Wins 2013 Sow’s Ear Poetry Contest. Judge T. R. Hummer chose Arne Weingart’s poem “Recursion” as the winner of our 2013 Poetry Competition. Jeanne Emmons’ “Turning” was first runner-up and Steve Lautermilch’s “Exaudi” was second runner-up. See the list of contest finalists below.

Weingart, who lives in Chicago, was a finalist in the 2013 Sow’s Ear Chapbook Competition with his manuscript Mozhel Bovitz. A widely published poet and active force in the Chicago poetry scene, Weingart has a poem, “The Idea of Egypt Begins to Emerge…,” in ABZ: A New Magazine of Poetry #8. His undergraduate degree is from Dartmouth and his MFA from Columbia. He is principal of Weingart Associates, Inc., an independent graphic design firm.


Douglas Basford, “A World Too Wide” and “Hector Jest”

Helen Chinitz, “Spring”

Jeanne Emmons, “Turning”

Connie Jordan Green, “Mindy at Dusk, 1919”

Karin Hoffecker, “The Lighthouse” and “For Magdelena”

Rosa Lane, “Apogee”

Steve Lautermilch, “Exaudi” and “Introibo”

Ed McManis, “Joan Marlowe Dances”

Berwyn Moore, “Rapture,” “First Star,” “Dirty Talk: A Marriage Poem,” and “Poem as a Field of Action”

Kate Peper, “Scythe”

Lucy Ricciardi, “Iznik”

Marydale Stewart, “Notes of a Master”   

Jeanne Wagner, “The Luncheon Garden at Argenteuil” and “The Sybil Talks of Retirement”

Arne Weingart, “Recursion” and “Man Asleep in Front of a Maid Asleep by Vermeer”

James Zimmerman, “Carving Avocado Pits,” “And Still the Bamboo Sings” and “The Tribulation of Old Clothes”

November 2013: Sonja James Publishes Chapbook. Sow’s Ear contributor Sonja James attended the Hawken-Rhodes reading in Winchester on October 26 and shared the good news of her publication of Calling Old Ghosts to Supper by Finishing Line Press in February of 2013. Her two previous collections are Baiting the Hook (1999) and Children of the Moon (2004).

October 2013: Baggett Poem Chosen for New Anthology. Congratulations to Pam Baggett, whose poem “Hunger” was accepted for publication in the anthology Forgetting Home: Poems About Alzheimer’s (Barefoot Muse Press). The poem originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of Sow’s Ear.

October 2013: Fall “Taste of Poetry” Features Rhodes and Hawken. Two Virginia poets with new books will appear at the Shenandoah Arts Council gallery on October 26, 2013, in the fall reading in the 2013 “Taste of Poetry” series. The culinary treats are homemade seasonal pies, apple and pumpkin-pecan.

Wendell Hawken of Boyce, VA, is the author of the collections Mother Tongue (Argonne Hotel Press, 2001) and The Luck of Being (The Backwaters Press, 2008), in addition to her new book The Spinal Sequence (Finishing Line Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Poet Lore, Narrative, Shenandoah, Southern Poetry Review and elsewhere. A Vassar College graduate, Wendy earned her MFA in Poetry at Warren Wilson College.

Suzanne Underwood Rhodes has published two collections of creative prose, Sketches of Home and A Welcome Shore, as well as three volumes of poetry, including this year’s Hungry Foxes, from Aldrich Press. Her work has been praise for its lyricism and spiritual depth. She works part time as a college writing instructor and full time as Director of Public Affairs for the charity Mercy Medical Airlift. An associate editor of Sow’s Ear, she lives and works in Virginia Beach.

Doors open at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 26, for a reception; the reading begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free—donations gratefully accepted. The SAC gallery is at 811 S. Loudoun St., Winchester, VA.

September 2013: New Books from Sow’s Ear Poets Frake and Parker. We’re pleased to share some good news from poets whose work we’ve included in the review. Priscilla Frake has a new book, Correspondence, just out from Mutabilis Press, containing two poems from the Winter 2012 issue. Mary Elizabeth Parker informs us that Cave-Girl, published by Finishing Line Press in December, 2012 has been succeeded by Miss Havisham in Winter published in August, 2013 by FutureCycle Press.

August 2013: Chapbook Prize Goes to Matthew Byrne. Sam Rasnake has selected Silent Partner by Matthew Byrne of Naperville, Illinois, as the winning manuscript in the 2013 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Chapbook Competition. He received an award of $1000; his chapbook will be published by Sow’s Ear Press and distributed to subscribers in Spring 2014. The author will receive 25 copies. Treasure Redmond’s oath was runner-up.

Byrne’s poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Kenyon Review, Clockwise Cat, Antioch Review, Best American Poetry 2007 and elsewhere. He holds the MFA from the University of Montana and works in insurance.


John Brehm, Small Talk

Matthew Byrne, Silent Partner

Andrea England, Because the Hidden World

Brian Patrick Heston, Barking in the Storm

Karin Hoffecker, This Slant of Light

Lisa Haag Kang, A Benign Sort of Cannibalism

Christopher Munde, Specula

Treasure Shields Redmond, oath

Arne Weingart, Mozhel Bovitz

James K. Zimmerman, Dream Theories

July 2013: Holly Karapetkova and E. Ethelbert Miller Will Read in August. The first reading in the fourth annual Taste Of Poetry series will feature two Washington, DC-area poets, Holly Karapetkova and E. Ethelbert Miller. The reading will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 24, 2013, at the Shenandoah Arts Council gallery, 811 S. Loudoun St., Winchester, VA.

Karapetkova is the author of poetry, prose for children, and translations from Bulgarian. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Mid-American Review, Crab Orchard Review, River Styx, and Sow’s Ear. The Winter 2013 issue of SEPR contains two of her poems. Washington Writers’ Publishing House published her collection Words We Might One Day Say in 2010.

She is artist in residence and literary advisor for the Rhodope International Theatre Laboratory in Smolyan, Bulgaria, where she teaches, writes, and performs poetry for the stage. She is the author of over twenty children’s books. She is on the faculty of Marymount University and lives in Arlington.

Ethelbert Miller, who calls himself a “literary activist,” is the author of numerous poetry collections, among which are Whispers, Secrets and Promises (1998), First Light (1994), and How We Sleep on the Nights We Don’t Make Love (2004). His work has been frequently anthologized and he is the editor of two anthologies, In Search of Color Everywhere (1994) and Beyond the Frontier: African American Poetry for the 21st Century (2002). He has also written two memoirs.

Miller is the board chair of the progressive think tank, The Institute for Policy Studies, he directs the African American Resource Center at Howard University, and he is editor of the much-honored review, Poet Lore. He has taught at a number of universities and for several years was a core faculty member with the Bennington Writing Seminars. He was born and raised in New York and for many years has lived in Washington, DC.

May 2013: T. R. Hummer Will Judge Fall Contest. The distinguished poet T. R. Hummer has agreed to judge the Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Poetry Competition in the fall of 2013. He directs the creative writing program at Arizona State University.

Hummer is the author of two books of criticism, The Muse in the Machine: Essays on Poetry and the Anatomy of the Body Politic (2006) and Available Surfaces: Essays on Poesis (2012). With Bruce Weigl he co-edited The Imagination of Glory: The Poetry of James Dickey (1984). His poetry collections include Lower-Class Heresy (1987), The Eighteen-Thousand-Ton Olympic Dream (1990), Walt Whitman in Hell (1996), The Infinity Sessions (2005) and Ephemeron (2011).

He has been awarded fellowships from NEA and has won two Pushcart Prizes, among other honors.

April 2013: Sow’s Ear Poets Publish Books. After receiving a copy of David Ebenbach’s eagerly awaited chapbook Autogeography in February, we’ve recently learned from three other poets connected to Sow’s Ear about their new books.

Advance sales of Alice Jay’s new collection, Continuity, from Finishing Line Press began in March. Susanna Lang informed us that her Tracing the Lines, containing her poem “Bread” from our Summer 2009 issue, is out from Brick Road Press, and Sow’s Ear Associate Editor Suzanne Rhodes’ new collection, Hungry Foxes, was released by Aldrich Press in March.

Ebenbach, by the way, is a contributor, a reader in our annual “Taste of Poetry” series (2012) and a finalist in our 2011 Chapbook Competition.

Congratulations to all!

January 2013: Jude Nutter is the 2012 Sow’s Ear Poetry Competition Winner. Our judge, Michael Collier, has chosen Jude Nutter’s poem “Fossil Hunting at John Lennon Airport, Liverpool” as the first-prize winner in the 2012 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Poetry Competition. First runner-up is Gayle Elen Harvey’s “Bouquet with Flying Lovers” and Monique Wentzel’s “Rearrangement” is second runner-up. Nutter receives an award of $1000 and publication in an upcoming issue of the review.

Collier provided the following comments on the winning poem: “’Fossil Hunting at John Lennon Airport, Liverpool’ is a complex meditation on the ‘clues of passage’ that lead Jude Nutter from Solnhofen limestone used in the construction of the John Lennon Airport to the quarry itself in Germany. The poem is a quietly dramatic narrative of the ways in which the ethics of perception and sensibility compel her to examine not only her relationship with her lover but the world around her. Her extremely keen descriptive eye has given us a kind of mythic rendering of what it’s like to pass through airport security where the trays holding our belongings ‘move away’ from us ‘like little grey boats/ while they stand there waiting, until./ waved forward, they pass, one by one, through/ to the other side.”

Nutter was born in Leeds, North Yorkshire, England, and grew up in northern Germany. Her poems have appeared in journals throughout North America and the United Kingdom. She has published three collections: Pictures of the Afterlife (2002); The Curator of Silence (2007), which won the Ernest Sandeen Prize from the University of Notre Dame and was awarded the 2007 Minnesota Book Award in Poetry; and I Wish I Had a Heart Like Yours, Walt Whitman (2009). She has been living and working in Minneapolis/St. Paul since 1998. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon.


Heather Altfeld, “The Children’s Parliament Tries My Father for a Lack of Joy” and “Letter to Dick from Time”

Heather Angier, “Nest”

Kristin George Bagdanov, “To Dust”

Jacqueline Berger, “Flying to China”

Elizabeth Chapman, “O Kaupulehu”

Annie Christain, “The Best Way to Go Is By M&DC: Takedowns Are All Metal”

Don Colburn, “Crossing the Muddy” and “The Higgs Boson, or Something Like It”

Jennifer A. Elmore, “Mounting”

Gayle Elen Harvey, “Bouquet with Flying Lovers”

Ann Hudson, “Starlings” and “Morning Song”

Steve Lautermilch, “Under an Ancient Moon”

Mary B. Moore, “The Mind Fills Every Emptiness”

Maureen Mulhern, “Night Walk”

Jude Nutter, “Fossil Hunting at John Lennon Airport, Liverpool,” “Still Life with Full Moon and Ibis” and “Field Notes: Watching the Crew of Atlantis Renovating the Hubble Telescope”

Michael Sukach, “Invocation”

Daniel J. Sundahl, “Shrill Voices Counting”

Kenny Tanemura, “By Issa”

Monique Wentzel, “Rearrangement” and “Rattlesnake”

James K. Zimmerman, “The Day the Vultures Moved in Across the Street”
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December 2012: Pushcart Nominees for 2012 Announced. The following five poets, whose poems appeared in Sow’s Ear during 2012, are the magazine’s nominees for Pushcart Prizes: Charles Atkinson, “No Big Thing”; Kevin Boyle, “Pillar Talk”; Sharon Charde, “Thrall”; Priscilla Frake, “Letter from Z in April”; and Scott Lowery, “Uncharted.” The staff of the magazine, who participated in the selection, wish all the nominees the best.

September 2012: Ruth Holzer and Jennifer Atkinson to Read at SAC on October 20. The second “Taste of Poetry” reading at the Shenandoah Arts Council gallery in 2012 will feature poets Ruth Holzer and Jennifer Atkinson. Besides spectacular poetry, the audience will be treated to seasonal sweets and hot spiced cider, besides the usual wine, beer and other beverages.

Ruth Holzer, who grew up in New Jersey, studied in London and now lives in Herndon, Virginia, has been published widely in magazines, such as Southern Poetry Review, The Formalist, California Quarterly, Frogpond and The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review. She has published two collections: The First Hundred Years (2004) and The Solitude of Cities (2006). A free-lance editor and translator, she has received the Edgar Allen Poe Award and the Members’ Prize from the Poetry Society of Virginia. She has worked as a government writer, editor and linguist.

Jennifer Atkinson teaches in the English Department and the MFA creative writing program at George Mason University. Before joining the faculty at GMU, she taught in Nepal and Japan, and at the University of Iowa and Washington University. Her poetry and nonfiction can be read in Poetry, Field, Yale Review, Shenandoah, Image and elsewhere. She has published four collections of poems: The Dogwood Tree, The Drowned City (which won the Samuel French Morse Prize), Drift Ice, and, in 2012, Canticle of the Night Path (which won Free Verse’s New Measure Prize). She holds an MFA in poetry writing and an MA in creative nonfiction from Iowa.

The reading is at 7:00 p.m. on October 20, 2012 at the Shenandoah Arts Council gallery, 811 S. Loudoun St., Winchester, VA, and is co-sponsored by Sow’s Ear and SAC. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

September 2012: Ebenbach Schedules Reading Tour. Sow’s Ear contributor David Ebenbach has informed us of a reading tour over the coming months, involving his new short-story collection Into the Wilderness and, starting in 2013, his new poetry chapbook Autogeography. So far, events are scheduled for New York, New Jersey, and other East-Coast locations.

David read in our “Taste of Poetry” series in August 2012.

For details and updates: http://davidebenbach.com/find-the-author/events/

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August 2012: New Book Coming From Tom Moore. We’ve heard from Tom Moore that a new book, Chet Sawing, will be published by Fort Hemlock Press in November 2012. It contains two poems that appeared in Sow’s Ear—the title poem and “New Dawn Chapel.”

August 2012: Lautermilch Chapbook Receives Awards. We’ve learned that Steve Lautermilch’s chapbook Rim has received two awards recently—Honorable Mention in the North Carolina Poetry Society’s Brockman-Campbell Award Competition for 2012 and the 2012 Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award of the New England Poetry Club. One of the poems in the chapbook, “Basho on Basho,” first appeared in Sow’s Ear, and the manuscript of Rim was published in chapbook form as the winner of the 2010 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Chapbook Competition. He has work forthcoming in Nimrod International Journal

August 2012: David Ebenbach and Kelly Cherry Kick Off Third Annual “Taste of Poetry” Readings. For the third consecutive year The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review and the Shenandoah Arts Council will co-sponsor a pair of readings at the SAC gallery in Winchester, Virginia. Dates are August 18 and October 20, with events beginning at 7:00 p.m. The August 18 reading features David Ebenbach, faculty member in creative writing at Georgetown University, and Kelly Cherry, Poet Laureate of Virginia. The October reading will include Jennifer Atkinson, faculty member in creative writing at George Mason University, and another poet TBA.

David Ebenbach’s poems have appeared, among other places, in The Beloit Poetry Journal, Subtropics, Hayden’s Ferry Review and Sow’s Ear. A collection of poems, Autogeography, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. He is the author of two prize-winning collections of short stories, Between Camelots and Into the Wilderness, and his non-fiction book on the creative process, The Artist’s Torah, is forthcoming. He has been the recipient of awards and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and the Vermont Studio Center. Besides an MFA from Vermont College, Ebenbach holds a PhD in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Kelly Cherry has published twenty books of fiction, poetry and nonfiction, along with eight chapbooks and translations of two classical plays. Her most recent titles are a collection of short stories, The Woman Who (2010), The Retreats of Thought: Poems (2009), and Girl in a Library: On Women Writers & the Writing Life (2009). New collections of poems, The Life and Death of Poetry and Vectors: J. Robert Oppenheimer, The Years Before the Bomb are forthcoming. She has received awards and fellowships from the NEA, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Wisconsin Arts Board, and the Dictionary of Literary Biography. She was a Director’s Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 2010. She is currently Eudora Welty Professor Emerita of English and Evjue-Bascom Professor Emerita in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She lives in Halifax, Virginia.

As in previous years, attendees will be treated not only to wonderful poems but also to something to delight the palette. A wine reception will precede the reading, and ice cream with all the toppings will be served at intermission.

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July 2012: Jane Schapiro Wins 2012 Chapbook Prize. Judge Sam Rasnake chose Jane Schapiro’s manuscript, Mrs. Cave’s House, as the winner of the 2012 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Chapbook Competition. She receives a $1000 award and publication of her book, which will go out to review subscribers as the Spring 2013 issue.

Designated runners-up are Daniel Lusk for Kin: A Sort of Bestiary and Grace Bauer for The Book of Uncommon Prayer. This year 135 entries were received.

Schapiro, who lives in Annandale, Virginia, has been a finalist in this contest previously and has read at the Shenandoah Arts Council gallery in Winchester. Robert Lesman, managing editor of Sow’s Ear, is quick to point out that these are not requirements for winning the contest, however. A short bio of Schapiro is found in the August 2011 announcement regarding “Taste of Poetry” readings.

Following are the finalists in the 2012 Chapbook Competition:


Colleen Abel, Remake

Grace Bauer, The Book of Uncommon Prayer

J. Lorraine Brown, Dancing in the Crystal Palace

Kristen Hoggatt, Language Acquisition

Daniel Lusk, Kin: A Sort of Bestiary

E. K. Mortenson, The 15th Station

Kirby Olson, Pax Americana

Annette Opalszynski, Scar Stories

Patric Pepper, Misunderstanding on P Street

Jane Schapiro, Mrs. Cave’s House

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April 2012: Cover Artist Has New York Show. The artist whose beautiful graphic art graced the cover of our Summer 2010 issue, Asuka Hishiki, is having an exhibition, “A Window on Nature,” at the Arsenal Gallery in New York from April 26 – June 6, 2012. An artist’s reception will be held on April 25 from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. the gallery, located at 5th Avenue at 64th Street, 3rd floor. For more information visit www.nyc.gov/parks/art.

April 2012: Collier to Judge Fall Contest. The judge for our Fall 2012 Sow’s Ear Poetry Competition honoring a single poem is poet, translator, editor and critic Michael Collier, who currently teaches at the University of Maryland, College Park. The director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference since 1995, he edited The Wesleyan Tradition: Four Decades of American Poetry (1993) and The New American Poets: A Bread Loaf Anthology (2000). Collier grew up in Phoenix and studied with William Meredith at Connecticut College. He has received numerous awards, including fellowships from the Gugenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. His sixth collection of poems, An Individual History, will be published in the spring of 2012.

February 2012: New Books by Sow’s Ear Poets. Three poets who’ve appeared in the Review in the past couple of years have published collections recently. We wish them and their books well.

Michael Miller, whose poems “The Goat” and “Cracks in the House” appeared in the Winter 2009 and Winter 2011 issues, respectively, has published The Singing Inside (Birch Brook Press, 2012). The book is a letterpress edition printed on 80-lb. Mohawk Vellum and features three woodcut engravings by Frank C. Eckmair. Miller lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Finishing Line Press of Georgetown, Kentucky, this year published Mark DeFoe’s tenth book of poems, In the Tourist Cave. DeFoe is Professor Emeritus of English at West Virginia Wesleyan College, where he mentors students in WVW’s MFA writing program. Sow’s Ear published his poem “The Lifters” in the Winter 2010 issue. He has read in Winchester at the Shenandoah Arts Council Gallery.

Judy Halebsky lives in San Francisco and teaches at Dominican University of California. We’ve just received her new book, Space/Gap/Interval/Distance, published by Sixteen Rivers Press earlier this year. It contains “Dig Me up at the Riverbed,” which appeared in our Summer 2011 issue. She read with Mark DeFoe in Winchester in August of 2010.

December 2011:  Pushcart Nominees for 2011.  The Sow's Ear Poetry Review congratulates the following poets whose work was chosen by the staff for 2011 Pushcart Prize nominations:  Marilyn Annucci, "Ice"; Laura Davenport, "On Turkey Creek"; Kate Peper, "Zen Cow"; and Adam Tavel, "Marlboro Purslane."  We wish these nominees all the best.

December 2011: Poetry Competition Winner and Finalists. Judge Scott Cairns chose Charles Atkinson’s poem, “No Big Thing” as the winner of our 2011 Poetry Competition. Cairns commented on the poem’s “very accomplished sense of line…and an overall exemplary prosody”; it “offers a pleasing mix of ironic demeanor and serious matter” yielding “a profound (if still playful) grappling with mortality.” The poem will be published in The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review in an upcoming issue.

Charles Atkinson won the Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Chapbook Competition in 2005 with Because We are Men and was a finalist in the 2010 Sow’s Ear Poetry Competition. His first collection, The Only Cure I Know (San Diego Poets), received the American Book Series award for poetry; a chapbook, The Best of Us on Fire, won the Wayland Press competition. His most recent collection is Fossil Honey, from Hummingbird Press. He has also received the Stanford Prize, the Comstock Review Prize, the Paumanok Poetry Award (SUNY Farmingdale), the Emily Dickinson Award (Universities West Press), and The Ledge Poetry Prize. He lives in Soquel, California.


Charles Atkinson, "No Big Thing" and "Sailing in Spring"

William L. Bingham, "Angelitos Negros"
Ewa Chrusciel, "Borders of Evanescence"
Lexa Hillyer, "Amenia," "June, the First Harm," "Knowledge of the Crow," and "Night Falls on Narcissus"
Janice Hornburg, "Summer’s End"
Gordon Jackson, "Surgery Dream" and "The Girl on the Dock: A Fable"
Rich Kenney, "Landings" and "A Dusty Metaphor"
Scott Lowery, "Uncharted"
Steve Lautermilch, "Boat on a Folding Screen" and "Listening to Redwoods"
Anna Marple, "Lady Emma’s Choices"
Mil Norman-Risch, "Abraham Goes to the Upper Field” and “Isaac From the Afterlife"
Mary Elizabeth Parker, "White Wimple"
Veronica Patterson, "After Long Illness, Instruction"
Michael Lee Phillips, "The Conveyor Belt"
Anna Ross, "Real Life"
T. J. Sellari, "Martha B.’s Alarm"
Jeanne Wagner, "Controlled Burning" and "The Honey Bee Fears for the Future"
Rebecca Warren, "The Alphabet Year"
Robert E. Wood, "Wolf Man (1941)"
Josephine Yu, "Narcissist Revises Tidal Theory"
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August 2011: Sow’s Ear Co-Sponsors Second Annual “Taste of Poetry” Readings in Winchester. The success of the two “Taste of Poetry” readings in 2010—featuring Judy Halebsky, Mark DeFoe, Wendell Hawken and Steve Scafidi—encouraged us to do it again this year on August 20 and October 1 at the Shenandoah Arts Council Gallery. SAC will again co-sponsor.

On August 20, we start the evening at 7:00 with refreshments focusing on sangria and tapas. Then we are treated to readings by Mary-Sherman Willis of Woodville, VA, and Steve Lautermilch of Kill Devil Hills, NC.

Willis’s poems and reviews have appeared in the New Republic, Iowa Review, Shenandoah and elsewhere. Her poems have been featured in Ted Kooser’s column “American Life in Poetry” and in anthologies. A graduate of Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers, she teaches creative writing at George Washington University.

Steve Lautermilch won the 2010 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Chapbook Competition for his collection, Rim. A photographer as well as a poet, Steve has traveled the Far West exploring the landscapes of its first peoples. His poetry collection Fire, Seed, and Rain won the 2008 Long Leaf Press competition. Individual poems have appeared in such magazines as The Antigonish Review, Prairie Schooner, and Southern Poetry Review. He taught for twenty years at University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

The reading on October 1 will feature Jane Schapiro and Perry Epes. Jane Schapiro, who lives in Annandale, Virginia, received a B.A. in Anthropology from The Colorado College and has done graduate work at George Mason University. Washington Writers’ Publishing House published her poetry collection Tapping This Stone in 1995, and she has published poems in such magazines as The Gettysburg Review, The American Scholar, and Poetry East. Her non-fiction book Inside a Class Action: The Holocaust and the Swiss Banks was published in 2003 by the University of Wisconsin Press. W. Perry Epes teaches at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia, and holds the MFA from George Mason University, as well as degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Virginia. His poems have been published in Phoebe, Negative Capability, GW Forum and elsewhere. His collection Nothing Happened was published by The Word Works in 2010.

Readings begin at 7:00 p.m., August 20 and October 1, at the Shenandoah Arts Council Gallery, 811 S. Loudoun St., Winchester, VA, 22601. Donations are gladly accepted.

August 2011: Sandra Kohler Publishes New Collection. We’re pleased to hear that Sandra Kohler has had a collection of poems, Improbable Music, published by Word Press earlier this year. It includes “White,” which originally appeared in The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review in 2003. See www.word-press.com/Kohler.html for details.

Her poem “Unveiling” was in a more recent issue of Sow’s Ear, and she has placed poems in such magazines as The New Republic, Prairie Schooner, The Gettysburg Review and The Colorado Review, as well.

August 2011: Chapbook Prize Goes to Sydney Lea. The winner of the 2011 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Chapbook Competition for his manuscript Mahayana in Vermont is

Sydney Lea. Judge Sam Rasnake chose Lea’s entry for the award of $1000 and publication of the chapbook, which will be sent to subscribers as the Spring 2012 issue of the magazine.

Lea, who lives in Newbury, Vermont, founded the New England Review in 1977 and was its editor for twelve years. One of his previous poetry collections, Pursuit of a Wound, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998. The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, from such foundations as the Rockefeller, Fulbright and Guggenheim, Lea has published poetry, fiction, essays and criticism in literary journals across the USA. A recent poetry collection is The Young of the Year (Four Way Books, 2011.) I Was Thinking of Beauty is scheduled for publication in 2013 by the same press.

June 2011: Chapbook Competition Finalists. The following manuscripts have been selected as finalists in the 2011 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Chapbook Competition by judge Sam Rasnake. The announcement of the winner is expected in July.


Kathleen Balma, Spaghetti Midwestern

Lisa Bellamy, Life as Lucy

John Brehm, Small Talk

David Harris Ebenbach, Autogeography

Sally Fisher, All Songs at Once

Nola Garrett, Calendar(s)

Brian Patrich Heston, Barking at the Storm

Mary Kathryn Jablonski, Flash to Clap

Deborah Kroman, My Brother in Common Time

Marianne Kunkel, The Laughing Game

W. F. Lantry, Coloratura

Sydney Lea, Mahayana in Vermont

Nikia Leopold, Small Pleasures

Robert Aquinas McNally, Songs of the Two Names

Michael Miller, The Opened Window

Bern Mulvey, Character Readings

Charlotte Pence, Not as a God: Hera’s Story

Jane Schapiro, Mrs. Cave’s House

James Scruton, Crossing the Days

Kevin Vaughn, The Athens Notebook

Robert E. Wood, Sleight of Hand

April 2011: Scott Cairns to Judge Fall 2011 Contest. The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review’s fall competition honoring a single poem will have Scott Cairns as judge.

Cairns is Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at the University of Missouri. He is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Compass of Affection: Poems New and Selected, from Paraclete Press. He co-authored, with W. Scott Olsen, the anthology The Sacred Place (1996). In 2007, he published a spiritual autobiography, Short Trip to the Edge and a collection of translations, Love’s Immensity: Mystics on the Endless Life. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, such as Poetry, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Image, and The Western Humanities Review.

Entries in the fall contest, offering a prize of $1000, will be received in September and October, with a November 1 postmark deadline. See the “Competitions” page for details.

January 2011: 2009 Chapbook Contest Winner Collects Two Awards. We’re pleased to learn that Kathleen Spivack’s A History of Yearning, winner of the 2009 Sow’s Ear Chapbook Competition, has been awarded two prizes, announced in late December. Her chapbook won first prize for poetry at the London Book Festival and was runner-up in the poetry category to Mary Oliver’s Swan at the New England Book Festival. Our editor emeritus Larry Richman and business manager John Zimet worked with Spivack in the production of the chapbook. Marin Spivack and Si Jie Wang designed the distinctive cover. A History of Yearning was sent to our subscribers as the Spring 2010 (Vol. XX, No. 1) issue.

December 2010 Poetry Competition Winner and Finalists.  Josh Rathkamp won this fall’s poetry contest with his poem, “Once Every Year, in Jatinga,” a poem contest judge X. J. Kennedy described as “an account of a remarkable tribal custom…beautifully told with great economy. The poet sees the point of view of every party involved….I loved the ending.” Rathkamp received a cash prize of $1000, and his poem will appear in Sow’s Ear in the coming year.

Rathkamp’s first collection of poetry, Some Nights No Cars At All, was published by Ausable Press and is now distributed by Copper Canyon. Currently the Coordinator of Creative Writing at Mesa Community College in Arizona, he has published in such magazines as Indiana Review, Meridian, Gulf Coast, and Verse Daily.


Marilyn Annucci, “Ice”

Charles Atkinson, “Early Retirement Letter to My Son, Below Tioga Pass”

Steven Brown, “The Necessity of Blasphemy”

Melissa Cannon, “The Mimic at 3 A.M.” and “Study in Black and White”

Holly Virginia Clark, “Detox”

Will Clemens, “Ballade of My Favorite Girl”

Charles Randall Cooper, “Matins”

Mark DeFoe, “Five A.M.—The Far Window” and “Give Me a Man Who Will Help Me Make Baby Boy”

Rafaella Del Bourgo, “Barking, Pt. Reyes, June 2010”

Ed Frankel, “Bar Tricks” and “Empty Sleeve People”

Claudia Gary, “Roadkill” and “Our Remains”

David Hall, “The Ambush of the Fourth Platoon”

Jen Kindbom, “A Kind of Haunting”

W. F. Lantry, “Infidelity”

Gregory Loselle, “The Mystery of the Linen Closet”

Jeff Miles, “My Diary” and “Notes from a Quiet Country”

Kathleen O’Toole, “Legacies”

Josh Rathkamp, “Once Every Year, In Jatinga”

Mark Rice, “Stealing Corn in Pennsylvania”

Deborah Warren, “Only Ordinary”

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October 2010: Good News from Contributors on Book Publication. It makes us very proud when contributors inform us that poems first published in Sow’s Ear have appeared in collections. Recently, Kelley J. White, Kathleen Kirk, Lowell Jaeger, and Rebecca Foust let us know of book publications.

Three of Kelley J. White’s poems in the Shaker-related Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books, 2010) – “Spirit Drawing, Two Birds in Flame,” “Brother’s Sweater, Red, Knitted,” and “Two Fly Swatters, Turned Wood with Twisted Wire” – first appeared in Sow’s Ear. Kathleen Kirk’s Broken Sonnets (Finish Line Press, 2009) contains “A Perfect World,” which appeared in the Fall 1999 issue. Lowell Jaeger’s poem “War Stories,” from our Winter 2010 issue, is in his new book We (Main Street Rag, 2010). Rebecca Foust’s poem “Family Story Told to Fourth Child,” from the Winter 2008 issue is published in All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song (Many Mountains Moving Press, 2010).

July 2010: Sow’s Ear and the Shenandoah Arts Council Co-sponsor a Pair of Tasty Readings. Poetry, wine and chocolate. Is this a definition of heaven? Just maybe. Anyway, we’re surely aiming for something blissful at a pair of poetry readings held in Winchester, VA, this summer on July 31 and August 28. Each event begins with a focus on the culinary sublime and only keeps getting better later in the evening with readings by renowned Virginia and West Virginia poets.

On July 31, Wendell Hawken and Steve Scafidi will read. Wendy Hawken, from Boyce, VA, is a retired marketing executive, graduate of Vassar and Warren Wilson’s MFA program, and the author of the chapbook Mothertongue , published by Argonne House Press in 2001 and the full collection The Luck of Being, published by Backwaters Press in 2008. Steve Scafidi, who has published in such journals as American Poetry Review, New Virginia Review, and The Southern Review, is the author of Sparks from a Nine-Pound Hammer (2001), his acclaimed first book which won the Larry Levis Reading Prize, and For Love of Common Words (2006). Both are from LSU Press.

Mark DeFoe and Judy Halebsky come to town on August 28. Defoe teaches the occasional literature or writing course at West Virginia Wesleyan University and pursues a wide-ranging literary life. He has received awards from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and Chatauqua Literary Journal, which gave him its national award for poetry in 2005. A former Bread Loaf Scholar, he has been a participant at the Frost Place Poetry Seminar, a judge in the WVA Poetry Out Loud competition, and editor of The Laurel Review. His collection Ten Scenes with Mockingbird received the 2009 Tennessee Chapbook Award. A native of Nova Scotia and traveler in Japan who now calls Falls Church, VA, home, Judy Halebsky, earned a PhD in performing arts from UC Davis and later spent three years in Japan studying Japanese literature and teaching. She has received grants from the MacDowell and Millay colonies and the Canada Council for the Arts. Her book Sky=Empty won the 2009 New Issues Poetry Prize.

Toothsome treats are provided by Shenandoah Fine Chocolates of Winchester and Julie’s Catering of Shippensburg, PA. The readings are held at 7:00 p.m. at the Shenandoah Arts Council Gallery at 811 S. Loudoun St. in Winchester, VA. The events are free, but cash donations are gratefully accepted.

July 2010: 2010 Chapbook Competition Winner. Steve Lautermilch of Kill Devil Hills, NC, has won the 2010 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Chapbook Competition for his manuscript titled Rim. Contest judge Sam Rasnake mentioned the “amazing scope of the collection” and its “powerful voice that is both modern and at ease with the past—a voice on a journey.”

Lautermilch is a widely exhibited photographer as well as a poet, and both his photographs and his poems have been fed by his extensive travels, his naturalism, and his scholarly interest in psychology. His collection Mirror Light won the 2007 Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award given by the New England Poetry Club, and Fire Seed & Rain, his twelfth book, won the 2008 Longleaf Press Chapbook Contest. He is the co-author of What Light Guides This Hand: Poems from Izumi Shikibu, a book of poems and fine art prints. His photograph “Blue Heron, Harbor Lights” is on the cover of The Poets Guide to the Birds (2008), edited by Judith Kitchen and Ted Kooser.

As the Sow’s Ear contest winner he receives a prize of $1000 and 25 copies of his chapbook published by Sow’s Ear Press. The book will also be distributed to the magazine’s approximately 500 subscribers as the Spring 2011 issue.

June 2010: Chapbook Contest Finalists: We are pleased to announce the finalists in the 2010 Sow’s Ear Chapbook Competition. The contest winner will be announced by the end of June 2010.


E. Louise Beach.Quest

Larsen Bowker, Flowers from a Deeper Soil

Richard Brostoff, A Few Forms of Love

Sara Burant,  How Light Steals Through

Adam Day, When Everything Slept

Jennifer Franklin, Persephone's Ransom

Michael Grabell, Macho Man

Kathleen Kirk, Nocturnes

Steve Lautermilch, Rim

Michael Meyerhofer, Absentee Ballet

Jane Schapiro, Mrs. Cave's House

Richard Schiffman, Season's Greetings

Lynda Self, Before First Light

Margo Stever, Raven's Rock

Eric Trethewey, Trouble

Mark WagenaarThe Little Bearers

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May 2010: New Rasnake Interview in Fictionaut. An interview by Meg Pokrass of our Associate Editor and chapbook competition judge, poet Sam Rasnake, has appeared in the Fictionaut Blog.

Sam reveals some of his main influences (Elizabeth Bishop, Bashō, William Stafford, Amy Clampitt) and pays particular homage to mentors such as Stafford and his colleagues at Sow’s Ear (Larry Richman, Nell Maiden, Errol Hess) who, with others, formed the community of writers he found supportive in the late 1980s, when the Review was founded.

He evokes musicians Townes Van Zandt, Tom Waits and Lucinda Williams and film makers Kieślowski, Kubrick and Kurosawa as essential to his creative process.

Though he talks about the necessity of time away from technology in order to feed his creativity, he has very positive things to say about the Internet, particularly such favorite sites as Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Metazen and Zoetrope—and even Facebook. He says, “Facebook has opened me to a different world of writers—and that’s been a great experience. I’ve met—in the virtual world—so many who have impacted me. I knew their works before, but had no contact with them. That alone has deepened my view of literature in a very universal sense, because the Internet connects the world. I can only hope I’ve moved others in some way.”

For the full interview, click here.

April 2010: Sow’s Ear Sponsors May 23 Reading in Norfolk, Virginia. The Review is sponsoring a reading in Norfolk featuring poets Rita Quillen, Suzanne Underwood Rhodes, Stephanie Sugioka, and Sow’s Ear editor, Kristin Zimet. The event, “Silk Strophes,” is one of a host of special programs between March and June of 2010 coordinated through Minds Wide Open, a statewide celebration of women in the arts. The violinist Annika Jenkins will also perform.

The free event will be held on Sunday, May 23 from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. in the Blocker Auditorium, Virginia Wesleyan College, 1584 Wesleyan Dr., Norfolk, Virginia. For further information contact Suzanne Rhodes at capriole10@yahoo.com or visit her website: www.RhodesNotTaken.com.

March 2010:  Judge for 2010 Poetry Contest AnnouncedThe distinguished American poet  X. J. Kennedy  will judge the 2010 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review’s Poetry Contest.
Born in Dover, New Jersey, in 1929, Kennedy served in the Navy, studied at the Sorbonne, and taught English at the University of Michigan, the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina, and at Tufts, with visiting professorships at Wellesley, U.C. Irvine, and the University of Leeds.  He burst upon the American poetry scene in 1961 with Nude Descending a Staircase, which won the Lamont Award of the Academy of American Poets.  Since then, he has published more than ten collections of poems, numerous works for children, two novels, and several textbooks, including An Introduction to Poetry (with Dana Gioia) and Knock at a Star: A Child’s Introduction to Poetry (with his wife, Dorothy).  Michael J. Collins remarked that “the deft balance of the serious and the playful and the skillful use of rhyme and meter are the distinct and consistent qualities of Kennedy’s best poems.”

Contest submissions are received in September and October, with a postmark deadline of November 1.  The winner will receive $1000 and publication in the Review.  The reading fee is $27.  Poets interested in entering the contest should read the guidelines in the “Competitions” section of our website.

February 2010Dean Rader wins T. S. Eliot Prize.  The winner of Sow's Ear's 2009 Poetry Competition, Dean Rader, has won the 2010 T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry for his collection Works and Days.  The award, sponsored by Truman State University Press, carries a cash prize of $2000 and publication by TSU Press.  Claudia Keelan judged.

January 2010: Poetry Contest Results. Contest judge Kelly Cherry has chosen “Hesiod in Oklahoma, 1934” by Dean Rader as the winning poem in the 2009 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Poetry Competition, the 22nd annual poetry competition sponsored by Sow’s Ear. Cherry praised the poem’s “brilliant depiction of the dust bowl” in often “gritty” language “rich with neologism…and simile….” The poem evokes the eighth-century BCE “singer of verses who reflects upon life, work, and duty.”

Dean Rader’s poems have appeared or will appear in POOL, Colorado Review, Quarterly West, Salamander, Poet Lore and many others. In 2008, he won the Crab Creek Review poetry prize. He blogs at The Weekly Rader, contributes regularly to The San Francisco Chronicle, and is an associate professor at the University of San Francisco.

Second place went to “Baladère Notturno” by Mark Wagenaar. Kelly Cherry says, “The mystery of time pervades this poem and surrounds it with sadness, though it is a restrained sadness, a sadness under control—perhaps hard-won control.” “It is a haunting poem that urges us to confront anxiety-provoking questions of time, death, self, and meaning.”

Mary Van Denend’s poem “Great Blue” won third place. Cherry praised its formal coherence, sounds, and cadences “emphasizing the heron’s quality of otherworldly precision” and its effective intertwining, for the reader, of instruction and enjoyment.

December 2009: Interview with Associate Editor Sam Rasnake. The website Poetry: The First 10 Years of the New Millennium has published a very informative and revealing interview of our colleague, chapbook competition judge, and editor of the online poetry journal Blue Fifth Review. Sam’s poem “Chamber Music” is included. http://goss183.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/sam-rasnake/

December 2009: A New Book Review Feature. Sow’s Ear is pleased to add a new feature—reviews of books on certain themes. Our Associate Editor and book reviewer, Nancy White, is seeking books (including chapbooks) related to the following themes: political poetry, humorous poetry, poetry about childhood, and poetry about the world of work. Reviews of books (3 or 4 at a time) on these themes are planned for upcoming issues of Sow’s Ear. If your book or the book of someone whose work you admire falls into any of these thematic categories, let Nancy know at nancellini@aol.com

December 2009: Rate Increases. Due to rising costs, we regret that we must raise rates on subscriptions and contest reading fees effective January 1, 2010. Any subscription received prior to that date will be payable at the previous rates. The good news is that for the first time we are offering discounts for multiple-year subscriptions. If you subscribe for two years at a time, you save the price of one whole issue. Savings are even greater for three-year subscriptions. So why not join our readership for multiple years, or get a subscription and give one as a gift at the same time?


1 year - US Addresses $27, Canadian Addresses $30, Anywhere Else $40
2 year - US Addresses $46, Canadian Addresses $52, Anywhere Else $72
3 year - US Addresses $65, Canadian Addresses $74, Anywhere Else $104
Single Issue - $8
Contest Reading Fee (Poetry Competition, Chapbook Competition) - $27

November 2009: Poetry Contest Finalists: We are pleased to announce the finalist poems in the 2009 Sow’s Ear Poetry Competition. The contest winner will be announced in January 2010.


Charles Atkinson, “Slow Waking Song”
Joan E. Bauer, “Berlin Girl”
John Blair, “The Canonical Hours”
Mary Van Denend, “Great Blue”
George J. Filip, “Underground”
Claudia Gary, “A Late Crossing”
Henrietta Goodman, “Two on the Ground”
Gayle Elen Harvey, “Gaudy Bunch of Flowers”
Georgia Kreiger, “Boundaries”
Steve Lautermilch, “Half Moon Bay” and “Kiva”
Chloë Joan Lopez, “Anamnesis”
Gregory Loselle, “Microscopy”
Jeff Miles, “Collage” and “Early Retirement”
Rhodora V. Penaranda, “The Flagellant”
Kimberley Pittman-Schulz, “The Urubamba River” and “If I Could See the End Coming”
Dean Rader, “Hesiod in Oklahoma, 1934”
Jim Tilley, “Smoked Tuna and Kalamata Olive Paté”
Mark Wagenaar, “Baladére Notturno” and “Fever”
Jeanne Wagner, “Proceed Slowly When Wet”
Rebecca Warren, “The River in Rain”
Rhett Watts, “Edges”

June 2009: 2009 Chapbook Competition Winner. Kathleen Spivack’s collection A History of Yearning has won the 2009 Sow’s Ear Chapbook Competition. Sam Rasnake judged. She received a prize of $1000 and 25 copies of her chapbook. Spivack is the author of six books of poems, most recently Moments of Past Happiness (Earthwinds Editions, 2007). She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for The Beds We Lie In (Scarecrow Press, 1986). A student of Robert Lowell, she has written about him and other noted American poets such as Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop, and Stanley Kunitz. Since 1990, she has been Visiting Professor of American Literature and Creative Writing at universities in France as well as a Fulbright Professor. Her poems have appeared in such magazines as The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and the Paris Review. She has taught at Yaddo and MacDowell and at creative writing programs at Santa Fe, Aspen, Skidmore and other locations throughout the US and abroad.

January 2009: 2008 Sow’s Ear Poetry Competition Winner. Becky Dennison Sakellariou’s poem “Bone” has won the 2008 Sow’s Ear Poetry Competition. Eleanor Wilner judged. She received $1000 and publication in the Summer 2009 issue of the Sow’s Ear Poetry Review. Sakellariou was born and raised in New England but has lived and worked in Greece for many years. She is a teacher, mediator and counselor. Living in Greece has influenced her politically, socially, and visually, and many of her poems spring from her mixture of heritages. She has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Poetry Prize. In 2005, she won the Blue Light Press Chapbook Contest for The Importance of Bone. In Greece, she lives on the island of Euboia in the midst of a natural beauty which inspires her.

August 2008: New Managing Editor of Sow’s Ear Poetry Review. Robert G. Lesman of Millwood, VA, has become the new managing editor of the The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, replacing Errol Hess, who, with a group of writers, founded the magazine in 1989. Besides his invaluable service to the magazine, Errol is credited with inventing the name of the magazine, inspired by his raising of pigs. Lesman is a poet and former English professor. His main responsibilities involve administering Sow’s Ear’s two annual contests and representing the magazine by attending literary events and responding to queries. He also manages subscriptions.

June 2008: 2008 Sow’s Ear Chapbook Competition Winner. Maureen Seaton’s manuscript America Loves Carney has won the 2008 Sow’s Ear Chapbook Competition. Sam Rasnake judged. She received a prize of $1000 and 25 copies of her chapbook. Seaton is the author of the memoir Sex Talks to Girls (University of Wisconsin Press, 2008) and six poetry collections, most recently, Cave of the Yellow Volkswagen (Carnegie Mellon Press, 2009). She is the co-author, with Duhamel and David Trinidad, of Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry. She has won the Audre Lord Award, the Iowa Prize and the Lambda Literary Award for Furious Cooking, the Pushcart Prize, and an NEA Fellowship, among other honors. Her poems have appeared in such journals as The Atlantic Monthly, Paris Review, New Republic, and Prairie Schooner. She teaches at the University of Miami.

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