Category Archives: Feature

2017 Best New Poets & Bettering American Poetry Nominees

Best New Poets Nominees

Best New Poets is an annual anthology of fifty poems from emerging writers. The anthology takes nominations from literary magazines in the United States and Canada, graduate-level writing programs in the United States and Canada, and entries from an annual open competition. For more information about the Best New Poets anthology and eligibility, visit bestnewpoets.org.

Morning Song by Marina Carreira

Driving home from the Stop & Shop, you glance over
at the Clorox and pretzels and get the urge
to wrap yourself around a pole

like a snake
like a stripper
like an SUV yearning for the hot crush of metal

Holding her as she coos
like a bird seeing the ocean
for the first time, a part of you

wants to tear yourself to pieces,
pull: intestine by intestine,
smolder the liver you no longer

destroy but fuck if you don’t
every now and again
sitting at your desk

looking out the window
you think how close the planes get to the top of buildings
in this city, you remember the last time you flew,

the last time you faked an orgasm
the last time you rode him like a ghost
in the wind, you rode like the wind

and only looked back to make sure
every part of you was still there
in that moment

When there is a shooting
in an elementary school
you drop to your knees, thank God it wasn’t her

in her classroom you run
to the bathroom and throw up,
you throw your hands up in the air

Google “statistics of school shootings in New Jersey”
Google “where can I buy a gun fast”
Google “post post post post partum depression”

MARINA CARREIRA is a Luso-American writer from the Ironbound area of Newark, NJ. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers University. Her work is featured or forthcoming in The Acentos Review, The Writing Disorder, Naugatuck River Review, Writers of the Portuguese Diaspora: An Anthology (Boavista Press, 2015), Bluestockings Magazine, THE FEM, Rock&Sling, Paterson Literary Review, Paper Nautilus, Pif Magazine, and All We Can Hold: A Collection of Poetry on Motherhood (Sage Hill Press, 2016). “Morning Song” was published in issue #20, Trigger Warning.

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The Prologue by Imaani Cain

i.
at age six, you are helen of troy
with a stripe of sunscreen on your
cheeks. in this life, paris has the same nose as you,
has taught you how to breathe underwater
and how to spit seeds across the expanse of the lawn.

in this life, paris watches you dress through the crack
in the door, cataloging the tender shape of your
back. when you catch him, he does not apologize
but you offer forgiveness anyways.

ii.
beauty is not the gorgon you had
hoped it would be. there are dreams
where the men all turn to stone,
their hunger frozen
into marble and with you
always out of range.

iii.
when paris’s brother asks you to strip,
you wonder if that is just some form
of love that your mother has not explained to
you yet. his teeth flash in the dim lighting;
he says that you are the prettiest
thing he has ever seen.

iv.
your body is a land you have never
explored. it is the house you do not
have the key to–you can only look
at yourself with your head
half turned away.

v.
when he puts his hands on you,
you are six years old
in a frayed swimsuit.
forgiveness is already waiting
at the tip of your tongue.

IMAANI CAIN was born in San Diego, California but grew up in New England. Currently, she lives in Boston with a shaky bookshelf that is crowded with far too many novels. She is an editorial assistant for Talking Writing Magazine and has been published on both Thought Catalog and www.Exsistentia.net. In her spare time, she studies French and paints watercolors. “The Prologue” was published in issue #20, Trigger Warning.

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Bettering American Poetry Nominees

Bettering American Poetry is an annual anthology of American poems which jam dominant systems of taste and resignify the very phrase “American poetry” with the languages that it so desperately lacks. This anthology centers voices of resistance, subjectivities that emerge from the radical margins, artists whose Americanness transcends nationalism and other borders, perspectives historically denied institutional backingin short, poets and poetries that are urgent and necessary but do not get along nicely with Power. For more information about Bettering American Poetry and eligibility, visit betteringamericanpoetry.com.

A Reclaiming by Siaara Freeman

the hood can yell for itself. does not need your voice
to introduce its own. your quick mimic is a quiet crime
& a loud sentencing.

this dialect, the ebonics, is not a case study not a thesis statement
a sociology report not a buffet not a welcome
mat. your children have full mouths
of my children & you call it rebellion
instead of theft because rebellion looks better
with blood. you can learn every dance
& you will never know the sweat of needing to move
with nowhere to go. you can listen
to every rap song & you will never
live the lyric be the drug deal gone good be the love story gone
bad be the shit talk be a bar-b-q of good intentions
you can come to the house-parties & go
home. before the cops come before the song ends before you actually have to
understand. you can recite every line to Friday & never laugh
at the right parts. you can say “bye Felecia” without knowing her
crack addiction. without knowing the droop of her shirt & the beg
of her braids. how love & shame can be sisters
& look nothing alike. how hungry is always around the corner.
where survival comes without the guide or loses it
too soon. you can be the Huxtables or the Bradys
either way you don’t know a damn thing about this. who you know
hiss like a hot-comb on the back of yo’ neck? who you know really
trappin’? who you know trapped? whatcha’ know bout reckless? who you know really
wrecked with no insurance? who you know riding dirty? who you calling dirty? who
you won’t bring home to yo mama? who you think you foolin’?
who you think a fool?survival is a sticky sap. slang is what happens when you eat it
every day & wake to lick the corners of your lips.

“our children play together” you say,
“picking up your children’s bad habits.”

you convince them they are eating dirt
instead of telling them to stop taking
candy from                                                   strangers.

Siaara FreemanSIAARA FREEMAN is your friendly neighborhood hope dealer. If the something in the world saves you, you should try and save something in the world with whatever it is you got. She’s got poems. Siaara’s chapbook, Live from District 11, is available on Kindle. “A Reclaiming” was published in issue #20, Trigger Warning.

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The Only Trans Girl at the Party by Alison Rumfitt

Saturday night’s a black hole
you’re the probe, lost in nothing, falling, negativity
crushed out of existence in your
knee-length skirt, white shirt and tights
and your make-up which other girls say
looks better than they could ever do
and you laugh and say, “I watched hours of youtube tutorials
to get to this!” and they laugh (what you said was true)
it’s like make-up is their country
you’re something strange, like an Hollywood horror
you’re a reanimated corpse, something from the black lagoon
and you’re a fun-vampire all in one
but you’re a girl, wearing the dress better
kissing slicker and sicker because you’ve got to
how dare you
intruder, monster, weirdo
The only trans girl at the party
the only starry anomaly
standing outside photographs just in case your parents see
got shouted at by strangers walking here
even though you hid your adam’s apple with a collar
You want to be part of the fun but
however hard you try it’s like
You’re a circus act or something at the end of the pier–

Ladies and Gentlemen, roll up, we have the
Wondrous Transgender
Ask it questions, find out
why it’s like this, it doesn’t look it, it doesn’t like it
what kind of trauma made you live like this?

The crowd looks on, laughs
this is wholesome entertainment
You wonder if, at some other party someone here
will tell your story
such an inspiration!
Yes I met this trans girl once
probed her for questions, she looked lost in space, lost
in the space between the kitchen and the bathroom floor

This is where it gets ugly, it’s the event horizon
although you don’t know that yet:
someone thinks they’ve got you
you don’t see their face but they feel
between your legs
You see a person in a mask, a rabbit’s head
tells you that you’d be better off drowned and dead
blink and they’re gone into the crowd
blink again and the crowd change
sometime’s they all look like animals
it’s hard to see them as people when
they all see you as an object
as simply a trans girl at their party when really
you have a girlfriend, like films
go to coffee shops every weekend
No, they move in, pitchforks, Guy Fawkes faces
grins and burning torches after Frankenstein’s monster
(that’s you, a person made of pieces)
All they want to know is where you come from
they all need to know your story
they need to know what your body looks like
and the blood, your blood, does it
taste the same as theirs does?
There are so many hands
and they grab at your stitches
The Black hole finally rears its head
sucking you in from the other side of the room
it’s mouth is rows of yellow teeth
You slip, you fall
the angry mob watch as Saturday night
eats you whole
spits you out
Sunday morning takes you home

Alison RumfittALISON RUMFITT is an 18 year old writer who lives in the South of England. There isn’t much to do there. Writing seemed like a good option. When she isn’t doing that she’s standing around in the kitchen at parties, or running away from things, or trying to formulate a life philosophy built on chips n dips. Her poetry has previously been published in Persephone’s Daughters. “The Only Trans Girl at the Party” was published in issue #20, Trigger Warning.


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Elegy for a Child Bride by Lakshmi Mitra

i.

three pre-dawn bathers see her first on the ghat
arms stretched out towards the river, eyes closed, a single
gold bangle sheened red on her left arm.

she could be sleeping; but she
is not.

ii.

in the days to come, she wanders in many forms many shapes
into my night dreams. but always, her eyes are wide, crimson-clinging-lashes
there is nothing in them – no tenderness, no abhorrence
and no pain.

my mother tells me horror stories of girls younger than I
who bathe in gasoline then swallow fire. they burn their histories from their bodies
and carry their unshed nightmares into the afterlife.

iii.

ten houses down the road, a young man will leave
come tomorrow morning, just to be sure.

the cops think she took a knife to herself, and no one
disagrees. i think tomorrow a girl whose name i cannot know
will give herself to the sea. maybe the same evening
another will bleed out over her mother-in-law’s floor
and give bitter thanks for it.

iv.

in the evening the temple doors part and someone
kills a goat on the steps; blood on water on stone, it feels
much the same.

they carry her ashes to the ganga, the river, fractious,
already brimming with ghosts of girls who
died fast and young like flies. their mothers lament
by the river, not just for their daughters, but for
all the ghosts to come.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetLAKSHMI MITRA is a 19-year-old college student living in Calcutta who occasionally frustrates herself into a bout of writing. When not doing so, she can be found reading, studying, craving sleep, and complaining. She is mostly polite, a lousy conversationalist, and doesn’t like sudden movements. Therefore, it comes as a great surprise to her that her cats still don’t like her. “Elegy for a Child Bride” was published in issue #20, Trigger Warning.

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PPP&P #1 Winter 2016

PPP&P3

PPP&P will spotlight work from our sister journals at Sundress Publications: Pretty Owl Poetry, Rogue Agent, Stirring, and Wicked Alice. Much like the astrology practiced in Telangana in which a parrot is used to pick some cards as luck for the customer, Prasanna hopes her picks will bring luck (and inspiration) to our readers.

 

Rogue Agent

Jim Elledge’s “Identifying the Dead begins with enumerated bodies, fragile like a just beginning-to-fall house-of-cards, with fire as the Domino wave starter, and then moves neatly onto lined-up ‘clothing and personal effects’ and absent bodies. Because of the source—quotes from police reports, I was reminded of Robin Coste’s Voyage of the Sable Venus which is “a riveting narrative made up entirely of titles of artworks from ancient times to the present—titles that feature or in some way comment on the black female figure in Western art”.

Find a list or a report from the past that speaks to you and recreate the scene.

*

Up until reading Sonya Huber’s “What Pain Wants,” Eula Biss’s Pain Scale was the definitive word on pain for me. Hubert flips how how pain is viewed by making pain the subject and antihero of the poem.

Pain wants you to put in earplugs because sounds are grating.

Pain has something urgent to tell you but forgets over and over again what it was.

Flip your subject.

Stirring

If I hear a sound in the middle of the night, I wonder who’s up this late and what are they up to. And in a moment like that, Jessica Alderman’s poemLa Limpieza,” finds a parallel in a public tragedy that is likened to an everyday action: cleansing.

Crack open a Spanish dictionary and start off with a word whose sound you like.

*

It is not everyday that I read a poem that begins whose title is a science term.Half Life,” by Gretchen Miexner is perfectly titled, showing how a long poem can be tethered from the beginning to a singular idea, maintaining the reader’s focus. (With a good mix of alternating surrealism, this poem did not need the boost of an interesting title, but short form bias is the bane of digital age!)

Write a long poem with a scientific title that roots your poem to a singular idea.

 

Wicked Alice

Poetic snapshots, Kelsey O’Kelly’s “bad sangria(and others) take off from the here and now in this digital life, but end up in far reaching places like history and space. (Wait until she reaches Pluto!)

Write a cozy, earth nostalgic poem.

*

In her poems what to bring to a die-in” and “cajol,” Amber Flame’s genius lies in her smart use of limited anaphora for only part of each poem.

and if not your guns, then your wide screaming mouths
and if not your screaming mouths, then your gasping tears
and if not your tears, then your fist clenched in anger
and if not your fist, then your hands raised in surrender.

By repeating the phrasing ‘if not your ____ then your ____’ in the first and (‘let it …’ in the second), Flame melds a musical quality into her writing.

Use repetitive lines as a diving board to set the rhythm for your poem.

 

Pretty Owl Poetry

Recycling is a poem which shows an artist’s enthusiasm at learning a new concept. In this case, “Recycling” echos the new practice of Capsula Mundi while also echoing the traditional ideas of bodies returning to earth “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Even with a great rocket-like velocity, an idea needs more for that momentum to make the readers say ‘again,’ like a toddler does. Stephanie Cawley‘s poem manages this with contrasts like slant of light/mirrored curves:

pulp made not from trees but old atlases

But old atlases themselves were once made from paper, another stunning contrast. Recycling itself can result in contrast, depending on what is placed before/after.

Write a poem of contrasts

Write a poem of contrasts with enthusiasm for a new concept.

*

In Portrait of Girl Falling,” Emily Anne Hopkins crafts a cadence which lends additional meaning to words even when they are repeated consecutively.

She knew a girl who went blind
in this business. Lost balance.

The building up of rhythm is delightfully contrary to foreshadowed fall in the title.

Pick a hard sound like “B” or “P” for alliteration. Line up those drum soldiers and see what march your poem is capable of.

 

Feel free to share your responses to Prasanna’s prompts in the comments below!

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“Ghost Stories,” by Michael Collins and Annie Kim, is lovely and—appropriately enough—haunting, with the two voices echoing and playing off each other yet appearing seamless. Simultaneously dark and lyric, musical and surprising, it is everything I would look for in a collaborative sequence.
—Judge Ruth Foley

 

Ghost Stories by Michael Collins and Annie Kim

Ghost Stories

~

Annie Kim

Annie Kim’s first poetry collection, Cyclorama, won the 2015 Michael Waters Poetry Prize and will be published by the University of Southern Indiana. Her poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in The Kenyon Review, Ninth Letter, Mudlark, Asian American Literary Review, DMQ Review, and elsewhere. A graduate of Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers and the recipient of a Virginia Center for Creative Arts fellowship, Kim works at the University of Virginia School of Law as the Assistant Dean for Public Service.

Michael.CollinsMichael Collins’ poems have received Pushcart Prize nominations and appeared in more than 50 journals and magazines, including Grist, Kenning Journal, Pank, and Smartish Pace. His first chapbook, How to Sing when People Cut off your Head and Leave it Floating in the Water, won the Exact Change Press Chapbook Contest in 2014. A full-length collection, Psalmandala, was published later that year, and a second chapbook, Harbor Mandala, appeared in 2015. Visit www.notthatmichaelcollins.com for more.


First Runner-up: “The Dose” by Lissa Kiernan & Kim Peter Kovac

Second Runner-up: “Old Man Blue Fairy” by Dustin Michael & Neesha Navare

Honorable Mention: “Every Day a New Death” by Lisette Alonso & Janelle Garcia

Read letter from our guest judge, Ruth Foley


 About our Guest Judges

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARuth Foley lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two greyhounds, one of whom sometimes gets mistaken for a cow. Her work is easy to find online and in her chapbooks, Dear Turquoise (dancing girl press, 2013) and Creature Feature (ELJ Publications, 2015). She is easy to find at fivethingsthatdontsuck.blogspot.com or by looking at her sofa. She serves as Managing Editor for Cider Press Review.

Patrick BagleyPatrick Shawn Bagley‘s debut crime novel Bitter Water Blues was published in January 2015 by Snubnose Press. His stories of hardscrabble life and rural mayhem have appeared in Crimespree Magazine, Thrilling Detective, Spinetingler, The Iconoclast, and the anthology Uncage Me. He was one of the founding editors of The Lineup: Poems on Crime, an annual anthology. Bagley lives and writes on a dead-end dirt road in a one-stoplight town. During the day, he works at a nonprofit community support program for adults with intellectual disabilities.

 

Need more? Read cahoodaloodaling‘s best of the best: 2015 Nominations
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2015 Best of the Net Nominations

Congratulations to our nominations for
Best of the Net!

You Are, You Will Be by Orooj-e-Zafar

Olive Wood by Linda Caldwell Lee

I Listen to a Woman Read a Poem about HIV and Think of Carlos and How It Was in the 1980s by Linda Blaskey

You Probably Think This Poem Is about You by Tovah Leah Green

Ritual by Elaine Wang

Amelia Earhart Leaves Her Husband by Krista Cox

Cinderella Snubs a Hand-Out by Elizabeth Johnston

Blast Off by Berkley Carnine

Tales of TC by Gary Nolan

For information on the Best of the Net anthology, visit Sundress Publications.
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The “Original” Trout Family Almanac

Trout Cover

 IntroductionMap of the Known Trout Universe

Stop #1 – Mad Libidinous
by James Donovan

Troutstrolabe

Stop #2 – What is Entropy?
by Lauren Belski

Trout Safety Guide

BUS 2

Stop #3 – Ladies, you may find me in the breast pocket
of my good tweed sport coat
by David Greenwood

Stop #4 – Neoastrology
by Wythe Marschall

Stop #5 – Baraka
by Erin Harte

Approaching Whether

Stop #6 – Commencement Coming
at the End of It All
by Stephen Aubrey

Phases of the Moon

Stop #7 – No Angels, No Avatars
by Christine Rath

Trout Sounds

Stop #8 – The Woman Who Made Her Husband Sift Dirt
by Rosemary Misdary

BUS 3Trout Test

Stop #9 – Sisters Trout
by Helen Rubenstein

Troutball

Stop #10 – Saint Liz
by Gordon Ebenezer Gourd

Bus Incantation

 Stop #11 – The Dead and Their Language
by Wythe Marschall

The Mysteries of Trouthenge

Stop #12 – Hoard
by CJ Hauser

Which Trout are You?: A Quiztionnaire

Biographies of the Extant Inhabitants of the Chateau Kilgore Trout, Brooklyn

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In Cahoots Contest Winners 2014

In Cahoots Contest Winner 2014:
The Meek by Justin Hudnall & Brian Simpson

 

1st Runner Up:2nd PlaceSCENE & SAID by Stanko & LS Bassen

2nd Runner Up:

7 - Image 1The Last Groove by Andrei Guruianu & Teknari

 

Honorable Mentions:

Apartment Building A
by Christine Testa & Tracy Pumfrey

Temple of Isis
by Jade Pandora & Elan Hickler

It’s a Long, Long Way to the Champs Élysée
by Paul Lavrakas and Kim Peter Kovac

Thank You For Your Contribution… and Your Check
by Susan Levi Wallach & Flavian Mark Lupinetti

Bonus Free Download: FourPlay
by Straw Mat Writers:
Angelique Stevens, Maria Brandt, Elizabeth Johnston & Pam Emigh-Murphy


About our Guest Judges

Michelle & James Lehmann are a husband & wife writing team. Experts at collaboration both between themselves and with artists, we featured their project, Relativity, in our first Special Feature. They have recently self-published their fifth book.

Michelle Lehmann

Michelle Lehmann, a/k/a Mirz, is a mom, author and digital artist who lives in a suburb of Chicago. A secretary by day, she spends her nights wiping runny noses, pushing pixels, and trying to save the world — all of which she does while consuming ungodly amounts of coffee. Inspired by a love of the short stories of Ray Bradbury, her writing career (if one would call it that) has been planted firmly in the speculative genre, with works mainly in science-fiction, fantasy, and goofy smiley stories. Since her dreams of becoming a superhero never took flight, she did the next best thing and created the fiction serial, Relativity, which can read at Blacktorrent.us. She recently had her first works formerly published in the profits-for-charity anthology, Cat Tails: A Collection of Littpurrature. Her other works, which she assures no animals were harmed during the creation of, can be found on various sites around the web, including deviantart.com, mirz.us, and bitmapworld.com.

James LehmannJames Lehmann, a/k/a Ravenswd started crafting stories as soon as he was able to hold a pen, but never finished anything until he acquired his Apple II computer — leading to a love of writing literature and computer code. A freelance computer programmer by profession, he is mostly a stay-at-home dad who gets a ton of inspiration from his kids and TV Tropes. He has a particular love of science-fiction and most of his works have been in that genre. Creating the character of Ravenswood Cadavre (because the name sounded cool), he never imagined it would lead him on a speculative writing journey that would span over 20 years and result in the superhero serial, Relativity, which he produces with his wife. He is also a connoisseur of webcomics, even co-creating one of his own with the emoticon strip, Bitmapworld. His works have appeared in several small publications you probably have never heard of, including The Torch and The Fiction Primer. Most of his writing and digital works can be found on Blacktorrent.us and deviantArt.com.

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2014 Nominations

 Pushcart Nominations

Lucky Cat
by N. West Moss

Changeling
by Kate Garrett

A Practical Guide to Building and Maintaining an Office Relationship
by Karen Jakubowski

Ritual
by Elaine Wang

An Old Dog Teaches My Dog to Swim
by Elizabeth Johnston

Dark Spot
by Aaron Z Hawkins

Best of the Net Nominations

Little Yellow Horses
by Neil Ellman

Senior Citizens at the Retirement Center Discuss John Ashbery’s “More Reluctant”
by Faith Paulsen

Anaïs Nin. A Poem. Unread.
by m.f. nagel

Grit in Your Eyes
by Stephanie Valente

Man in the Moon
by Camille Griep

 

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Welcome to Relativity

 

Welcome to Relativity, where the superheros don’t need super powers to be badass, and the super villain may just be in a bugsuit.

Although I’d been aware of Relativity for a while, my first real interaction with the serial was almost a year ago when Michelle submitted a story from the serial to our Speculative issue. We didn’t publish it. Ultimately it did not fit our final view for the issue, but the superhero serial stayed with me.

[Read more…]

In the year that followed, I became an avid fan, watching as new art and stories were published online, so when Michelle submitted another serial for our Repeat Review, I felt a pang of sadness emailing her and Jim a decline. Here was this great collaborative project that I loved, but had no way to properly publish on our old site. Thankfully, plans for self-hosting were already underway, and once we were redesigned, I knew I had to get Relativity for our first special issue.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve worked closely with Jim and Michelle to design the features you’ll find in this issue. I’ve picked some of my favorite pieces from their first collection, Lost & Found, and a couple side stories from their collection This & That. Start where you want to, with the voice actors, the artists, selected stories, or the characters themselves. You can’t go wrong.

I’ll leave you with my two favorite characters, Yule, who you’ll meet in this feature, and Cricket, who you’ll meet if you continue onto Relativity’s second book, Secrets & Revelations.

Cricket

Cricket

Yule

Yule

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more things Relativity, visit blacktorrent.us where additional stories are available for free. If you like the project, consider making a donation directly to the serial here.

Best,
Raquel Thorne
Editor

 

Meet the Authors Meet the Artists
Meet the Characters & Heroes Meet the Actors
Selected Episodes

 


artist

Joel Hartlaub

Relativity theme music composed by Joel Hartlaub. Joel is a super tall dude with a super big heart. He is the bomb-diggity at composing music and ain’t too bad lookin’ either. He can be reached at joelcomposes@gmail.com.

Also a big congratulations from cahoodaloodaling on your wedding! Cheers!

Click to hear the “theatrical” theme for Relativity, orchestrated by Joel.

To download Relativity music, click here.

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In Cahoots Contest 2013 Results

Meghedi and Jack - In Cahoots Submission - Photo

Editor’s Note

First Place & Winner of our $50 Prize
Summer Salt (Nomad, Nomad)
by Meghedi and Jack

Second Place
“Night School” by Robin Wyatt Dunn and “Man and Tractor” by Sam Barnett

Third Place
Sinkholes and Volcanoes (Whichever Works)
by A.J. Huffman & April Salzano


About Our Guest Judge

Liz Napieralski Liz Napieralski lives in the high desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and has finally resigned herself to the fact that she’s not leaving anytime soon. If you were to steal her purse on any given day, you’d find a book or two, a whole lot of pens that she’s not that nice about sharing, a notebook shamed by all the scraps of paper she inevitably writes on instead. (And not much cash. So don’t steal her purse. It’s not worth it.)

Liz has worked as an editor and writer for Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, FlagLive!, Santa Fe and THE magazine.

Her work has recently appeared in The Legendary, Navigating the Heavens, and The Más Tequila Review.

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