2018 Chapbook Contest Winner
Lee Varon has won our 2018 contest with Letters to a Pedophile.
Letters to a Pedophile is a stunning book that will give you a lump in your throat and a pit in your stomach. Yet you will feel for the lost soul in a “box of your pain” and surrounded by angels “drooping like broken necks of swans.” This book is filled with images that are chilling and haunting.”
—Jean Flanagan, author of Black Lightning
Varon’s poems yearn for some understanding but there is none. How can a person really grasp such horror done to a child. In each letter the voice in the poem hopes, but in letter after letter, the pedophile never stops his behavior and one starts to feel it is hopeless after all. Letters to a Pedophile is not an easy thing to write about but Varon does so with sophistication and dignity. It is one of the best chapbooks I have read. “…and the children’s bodies weren’t taken apart/pieces strewn by the side of the road/to be picked up later/and stuffed into God’s satchel.”
—Gloria Mindock, Editor and Publisher, Cervena Barva Press
2017 Winner. Breaking Newston's Laws, by Teresa Sutton
'In this, her stunning third collection of poetry, Teresa Sutton explores the haunting question—what is left when the mind fails? Her unset-tling poems translate the language of dementia by upending theories of time and space. A dying father, whose “lungs fill with honeybees,” swims toward dislocated shorelines, fighting “the kind of sleep that falls in giant flakes.” Sutton’s poems vibrate with enigmatic revela-tion—“It is terrible to survive loss/more terrible to survive love.” When the mind fails, what’s left? For Sutton, a ceaseless, dazzling orbit.'
—Kathleen Aguero, author of After That
2016 Winner. Hypothetically Speaking, by MK Sukach
'In Hypothetically Speaking, MK Sukach explores those intersections where language and culture, history and the present unsettled moment meet and are realigned. Sukach thoroughly respects his medium—our language—its chameleon abilities, its subtleties and argot, its way of being both self-conscious and self-forgetful. Thus these brilliant and ever-shifting poems, in turn apocalyptic, tender, ironic, surreal, mythic and deeply, darkly funny.With razor-sharp wit, Sukach cuts through our public delusions. His voice is at once deliciously playful and as he says in one poem, “pleasantly inconsolable.” This is savvy, surprising, spot-on, and crucial writing.'
—Betsy Sholl, former Poet Laureate of Maine, author of Otherwise Unseeable.
2011 Winner. Nectar, by Lisa Bellamy
'The question that begins Lisa Bellamy’s elegant and eloquent collection of poems is a poignant one: are we all ‘just wind and gristle’? … This skilled pet goes on to assure us that we are not … Sadness is everywhere … but like the bees ‘mixing nectar with tears’ to produce honey—so is joy.'
—Eleanor Lerman, author of The Sensual World Re-Emerges (Sarabande Books); Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and NEA Poetry Prize Fellowship recipient
2012 Winner. Rumor of Hope, by Laurel Mills
This collection of poems is brave and poignant. Written from the perspective of a mother whose daughter has the the rare genetic condition 1p36 Deletion Syndrome, the poetic voice speaks to any nurturer, any parent, any caring soul. The reader is brought to the edge of metaphoric cliffs of chaos, love—and hope.
2013 Winner. In the Museum of Surrender, by Jeri Theriault
'As we move through the museum of surrender—the rooms of loss, of grief, the poet gives us resilience, joy, and roots reaching “deep/into the dark”. . . and we want to be there when she sings her songs of strength and beauty, songs of life, songs for the living.'
—Gary Lawless, co-owner, Gulf of Maine Books; author of Caribouddhism and In Ruins
2014 Winner. Where the Meadowlark Sings, by Ellaraine Lockie
'Visit the abandoned schoolhouse out on this vast Montana prairie, and you’re in for an elemental—if not elementary—education in beauty and danger. When modern life wears thin, Ellaraine Lockie’s roots run back to Indian times, and bring forth a wild profusion of prairie flowers.'
—Dan Veach, Editor of Atlanta Review; recipient of the Georgia Author of the Year Award for his poetry collection, Elephant Water.
2015 Winner. Missing Persons, by John Surowiecki
'The missing persons of John Surowiecki will not settle quietly into anonymity. He elevates lost or forgotten souls out of absence and makes their presence felt, starkly and simply through his exact and moving imagery. These poems are taut and elegiac—heartbreaking, but never despairing. By resurrecting memories through these poignant portraits, Surowiecki offers “the company of words,” as he helps us “understand how the earth absorbs” our loss.'
—Amy Nawrocki, author of Reconnaissance and Four Blue Eggs
Open Chapbook Submissions
Encircle Publications now offers two biannual reading periods each for other chapbook manuscript submissions. Submissions open from January–April and July–October for two publications per year. When submissions are open you can find details and guidelines via our Submittable page.