Fellowship Competition

Writers@Work is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Annual Fellowship Competition: Christopher X. Shade (Fiction), Samantha Deal (Creative Non-Fiction), and Jennifer Sperry Steinorth (Poetry).

Fiction – Judged by Peter Ho Davies

Christopher Shade1st Place: Christopher X. Shade, “Messages from a Storm” Christopher X. Shade’s stories have appeared in about twenty publications, and he has a novel set in France in agent circulation. He is an editor of Epiphany literary journal. A member of the NBCC, his book reviews have appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Southern Literary Review, New Orleans Review, Saint Ann’s Review, and elsewhere. He was raised in the South, and now lives and works in NYC. See interview with Christopher X. Shade.

Peter’s comment: “Message from a Storm” is written in a crisp, laconic prose well suited to its steely, feeling protagonist. There’s a great feel for community and place here, for the distinctive details of work, and most of all for character. The main character is exactingly evoked, but secondary figures are also attended to with care, a hallmark of good fiction. And from these characters, understood with such keen emotional intelligence, plot arises with an affecting inevitability.

2nd Place: Amy Bridges, “The Rattlesnake Princess”

3rd Place: Dawn Dorland, “Econoline”


Robert Shuster, “Invitation from a Firebrand”

Terri Scullen, “Clancy Towers”

Anne Vinsel, “Goyische Turkey with Post-Its”

Robert Kerbeck, “You Shouldn’t Be There”

Crystal Carey, “Over Left Shoulder”

Aaron Morris, “Proving Ground”


Creative Non-Fiction – Judged by Kerry Howley

Samatha Peel1st Place: Samantha Deal, “Notes On a Conversation With My Sister” Samantha Deal is a poet, essayist, and editor from Boone, North Carolina. She holds a BA from UNC-Chapel Hill and an MFA from UNC-Wilmington. Currently, she is working towards her PhD at Western Michigan University—where she teaches undergraduate literature/writing courses, serves as a nonfiction editor for the literary journal, Third Coast, and reads for New Issues Press. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hunger Mountain, Word Riot, Sonora Review, Rattle, The Boiler, Ninth Letter Online, and other journals. Samantha has been a finalist for the Mississippi Review Poetry Prize, The Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize, The Anhinga Press Robert Dana Prize, The OSU Press/The Journal Wheeler Prize, and Zone 3’s First Book Award. A swimming enthusiast and lover of all-things-water, Samantha divides her time between Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, and Kalamazoo, Michigan. She lives and works with her dog, a puggle named Mimsy. You can follow her (and her dog) @SammyLeeDeal. See Writers@Work interview with Samantha Deal. 

Kerry’s comment: “Dreamers need a severe winter,” writes the author of this lyrical meditation on separateness, quoting Baudelaire, whose voice is one of many she ushers inside the dream. The essay evokes, in its wintery chill, the apartness of even the most intimate persons across experience. Every word feels considered, weighed, even re-conceived, such that what might have been a mundane essay about tragedy becomes something far more haunting.
2nd Place: Mary Ellen Greenwood, “Shelter”

3rd Place: Thomas Mira y Lopez, “Catacumbae”


Steven Pokornowski, “Always Overlooked: Sketches of My Father”

Ploy Pirapokin, “An Equation to Tell Your Mother Your Boyfriend is Black”

Judy Sobeloff, “Coming About”

Lynn Larssen, “Electric Skin”

Heather Hammerbeck, “Flight Animal”

Karen Benning, “Leavetaking”

Lindsay Fowler, “Man of Myth”

Catherine Mauk, “Present Progressive”

Cassidy Thompson, “Witness Trees”


Poetry – Judged by Tarfia Faizullah

Steinforth (preferred)1st Place: Jennifer Sperry Steinorth, “Dear Recovery” Jennifer Sperry Steinorth is a poet, educator, collaborative artist, and licensed builder. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly, The Colorado Review, the Collagist, Four Way Review, jubilat, Michigan Quarterly Review, Mid-American Review, and elsewhere. A chapbook, Forking The Swift, was published in 2010. In 2015, she was a Tennessee Williams Scholar at Sewanee Writers Conference and is this year’s Writers@Work Poetry Fellow. She lives in northern Michigan and works at Interlochen Center for the Arts. See profile and links.

Tarfia’s comment: I was absolutely taken in by the momentum of this voice, the idiosyncratic syntax, and the way these poems reveal an alive and aware mind immersed in understanding the materials of the known and unknown world. From cast-iron pots to Chernobyl to Pinocchio, these richly felt poems swerve and shudder in unexpected and wholly resonant ways.

2nd Place: Analicia Sotelo, “Do You Speak Virgin?”



Teresa Dzieglewicz, “Between a Maple Tree and a Stone Angel”

Kim Welliver, “The Dead Who Are Not Lying Down”

Erin Elkins Radcliffe, “The Death Terms of Cowboys”

Simon Neely, “APOLOGUE”

Michael Reyes, “Flowers Lean Toward Sunlight”

Tara Ballard, “Words?”



Fiction judged by Peter Ho Davies

Peter Ho Davies

Peter Ho Davies is the author of the novel The Welsh Girl (2007) and the story collections The Ugliest House in the World (1997) and Equal Love (2000). His work has appeared in Harpers, The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The Guardian, Independent, Washington Post and Chicago Tribune, among others. His short fiction has been widely anthologized, including selections for Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards 1998 and Best American Short Stories 1995, 96 and 2001. In 2003 Granta magazine named him among its twenty “Best of Young British Novelists”.  The Welsh Girl was ‘long-listed’ for the Man Booker Prize 2007, and short-listed for The Galaxy British Book Awards ‘Richard and Judy’ Best Read in 2008. Davies is a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.  He is a 2008 recipient of the PEN/Malamud award. Born in Britain in 1966 to Welsh and Chinese parents, Davies now makes his home in the US. He has taught at the University of Oregon and Emory University and is now on the faculty of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Register to work with Peter Ho Davies.

Creative Nonfiction judged by Kerry Howley


Kerry Howley’s essays, reviews, stories and reportage have appeared in The Paris Review, Harper’s, New York Magazine, Granta, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, Gulf Coast, Vice.com, and frequently in Bookforum. She holds an MFA from the University of Iowa, where she was admitted as an Arts Fellow and subsequently served as the 2012 Provost’s Visiting Writer in Nonfiction. Thrown, her book-length essay, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2014 and is forthcoming in German, British, Dutch, French, and Swedish editions. Howley is an assistant professor at the University of Iowa, where she teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program. She lives in Iowa City with her husband, son, and Vizsla. Register to work with Kerry Howley.

Poetry judged by Tarfia Faizullah

tarfiaPoet, editor, and educator Tarfia Faizullah was born in 1980 in Brooklyn, NY and raised in west Texas. She received an MFA in poetry from Virginia Commonwealth University and is the author of Seam (SIU 2014), which U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey calls “beautiful and necessary,” as well as Register of Eliminated Villages (forthcoming from Graywolf 2017). Seam is the recipient of the 2015 Great Lake College Association New Writers Awards, the 2015 VIDA Award in Poetry, and the 2015 Binghamton University Milton Kessler Poetry Book Award. Her other honors include a Pushcart Prize, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Ploughshares Cohen Award, a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, as well as scholarships and fellowships from Kundiman, Bread Loaf, Kenyon Review, Sewanee, and Vermont Studio Center. Her poems appear in Poetry Magazine, Poetry Daily, Oxford American, Ploughshares, jubilat, Kenyon Review, New England Review, and elsewhere. Poems have also been anthologized in Best New Poets 2013 (Meridian), The Book of Scented Things (Rose O’Neill Literary House Press), Please Excuse this Poem: 100 Poems for the Next Generation (Viking/Penguin), and Hard Lines: Rough South Poetry (University of Southern Carolina Press). Tarfia serves as a contributing editor for The Offing. She is the Nicholas Delbanco Visiting Professor of Poetry in the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. She co-directs the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Press and Video Series with Jamaal May, and lives in Detroit, MI. Register to work with Tarfia Faizullah.