Congratulations to the winners of the fifth annual Mark and Melody Teppola Prizes in Creative Writing at Willamette University.
Poetry, judged by Vi Khi Nao, author of Sleep Machine
First Prize: “Curb Appeal,” by Clarissa Lincoln
Judge’s comments: Witty, charbroiled with sharpness, irony, and intoxicating juxtapositions (goosebumps so close to tangerine — in fact, in the same line), “Curb Appeal” surprises the reader with every turn and takes us through a wild linguistic motorcycle ride charged with verve and delight. It’s a poem that has constant decadent “segments of jeweled flesh” and leaves us wanting more — something cryptic, like a nonpig with skin roasting in the sun.
Second Prize: “Practice Your Gender!” by Oakley Phoenix
Judge’s comments: Overflowing with the most strategic and thoughtful rhetorical questions on gender paradoxes, this poem takes the reader through the plural world of gender while also tackling the most (obvious) and important contemporary elephant in the room: gender politics. Lucid, poise, sassy, and intelligent, this poem is both profoundly pedagogic and unapologetic.
Third Prize: “Self Portrait,” by Abigail Heumann
Judge’s comments: Conceptually clever, “Self-portrait” takes the desire to eating “paint” to another level. Transcendent, visceral, and corporeal, the poet has a magnetic way of making the reader taste and feel everything as if words were not made of paint, but pure ontological things such as existence, itself.
Prose (fiction and nonfiction), judged by Jess Arndt, author of "Large Animals"
First Prize: “The End of My Shark Days,” by Claire Alongi
Judge’s comments: Performing the elusive alchemy of all truly transformative fiction,"The End of My Shark Days" makes more (urgently-needed) room for our bodies to be bodies--with all of the confusion of forms and senses that real living demands--while reading it. Tender, subtle, risky, and extrareal.
Second Prize: “The Lost Weekend,” by Jason Lange
Judge’s comments: Complex, jostling, porously up-close prose, thick with movement and living, "Lost Weekend"'s sensibility leaps like a cat in front of us. Both different from, and exactly as it seems, but not.
Third Prize: “Bike Season,” by Sophie Smith
Judge’s comments: Inhabiting the uncomfortable trauma-fog that trails long after a catastrophic event, in "Bike Season" we feel the narrator being called back (micro and macroscopically) to the sensate, shared, human-filled world as she inches towards reinhabiting self. Painful, close-to-the-ground, language-alive, felt.
Honorable Mention: “SLAG,” by Ryleigh Norgrove
Judge’s comments: "Slag" twines history, sea, gender, genre into powerful new forms of possible embodiment.
Please congratulate our winners!
We are grateful to Mark and Melody Teppola for the generous gift that makes these prizes possible.