Teppola Creative Writing prizes announced

Contact: Scott Nadelson

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Mark & Melody Teppola prizes in Creative Writing!

Congratulations to the winners of the seventh annual Mark and Melody Teppola Prizes in Creative Writing at Willamette University.


Judged by Lorna Dee Cervantes, author of Emplumada

First Prize: “I Felt a Flash of San Francisco Terror" by Jonny Vaccaro

Judge’s comments: Exceptional! Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti meets Eliot's Prufrock, but as Ezra Pound advised, made new. Like nothing else; like no one else. Imagery is unique, nothing is clichéd. There's a surety of voice in each full and brimming taut line. A howl of self as city; a poem that lets go and finds itself. This poems stayed with me weeks after, as the best poems do.

Second Prize: “The Times are Growing on Me" by Montgomery Remer

Judge’s comments: Moves from narrative poem to virtual reality, in form and function, like a plant grows from rhizome to leaf to vines to fruit, in an interesting way. This poem grows on you.

Third Prize: “Call the Ferry" by Emory Thompson

Judge’s comments: A capable villanelle with haunting music and subject matter. "I'm gone like a breath/ ready to be over with" is a great line.

Honorable Mentions:

“Two Red Cherries to Every Stem" by Sam Jones

Judge’s comments: Strong and unique voice and voicing. Modernist driving pulse of unfolding and layering of core image. A breathless rush, a howl. Leaping imagery surprises and sometimes contains what I call, the unexpected inevitable.

“El Miedo deal Amor/ The Fear of Love" by Crystal Cervantes

Judge’s comments: Deft sketch, like Japanese brushwork; deceptively simple—until last line. Skillful in form with its controlled music. Leaves us wondering, at last thought, like the best haiku.

“Flesh" by Ria Martinez

Judges comments: Honest and raw, and moving because of it. Some surprising imagery and turns of phrase.

Prose (Fiction & Nonfiction)

Judged by Bernard Grant, author of Fly Back at Me

First Prize: “Blood Oranges” by Ellen Lovre

Judge’s comments: An arresting voice of pristine prose narrates a unique coming out story that maintains forward movement via internal monologue and documents—journal pages, an online listicle—and a final scene of profound self-learning.

Second Prize: “Mechuda” by Mia Reyes

Judge’s comments: Stylized use of episodic structure and pattern in a coming-of-age narrative that analyses the cultural narratives many marginalized people learn and unlearn. The narrator’s self-awareness stimulates the prose with authenticity, as does the deft inclusion of poetry and criticism.

Third Prize: “Lobster Girl” by Laurel Schmidt

Judge’s comments: A magical realism story that illustrates how humans are ever-evolving animals in a biodiverse world. Startlingly original and insightful yet subtly reminiscent of Aimee Bender.

Please congratulate our winners! We are grateful to Mark and Melody Teppola for the generous gift that makes these prizes possible.

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