Judging any contest can be fraught with difficulties, but collaboratively judging a collaborative contest could have been a nightmare. Patrick and I went to graduate school together, but our focus was in different genres, and while I know my way around hardboiled fiction (and love it) and he knows a good poem when he sees one, I had visions of long-distance fisticuffs ensuing when we couldn’t agree on a winner, or even a set of criteria, for cahoodaloodaling’s “In Cahoots” contest. I’m pleased to say that while our job was by no means easy, our discussions were—we were 100% in agreement about our winners. I want to thank Patrick for the experience of working with him, and for allowing me to represent the two of us in this brief discussion of the winners.
“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.
“The Dose,” by Lissa Kiernan and Kim Peter Kovac is so unified that it’s impossible to determine where one voice ends and another begins—part of me hopes the poets sat together and meted out words, one at a time, but as a poet I can’t imagine that would be a good idea. It’s cohesive in the best sense of the word, and a joy to read out loud. Go ahead and go do that now if you want. I’ll wait.
In “Old Man Blue Fairy,” Dustin Michael and Neesha Navare have created a work of beauty. Patrick and I both wanted more—I want to read everything they write, see everything they draw. I don’t know if there’s anything I could possibly add to that.
Finally our Honorable Mention: Lisette Alonso and Janelle Garcia’s “Every Day a New Death” is compelling and visually striking.
Patrick and I congratulate all of the winners, and thank everyone who entered for making our decision so difficult. It was the very best kind of dilemma.