The 2020 Firecracker Award Judges

It is with great excitement that we welcome the following outstanding literary citizens to our panel of judges for the 2020 Firecracker Awards.


Melanie Fleishman is a book buyer for the Center for Fiction (Brooklyn, NY), Bookhampton (East Hampton, NY), and Arcadia Books (Spring Green, WI). She has worked between bookselling and publishing for over four decades.

Alex Gilvarry is the author of two novels: Eastman Was Here (Penguin Books, 2018), nominated for the PEN Open Books Award, and From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant (Viking, 2012). He is a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree and a professor of creative writing at Monmouth University.

Bonnie Chau is the author of the short story collection All Roads Lead to Blood (2040 Books, 2018), a Firecracker Awards finalist. She teaches translation at Columbia University, works at McNally Jackson Books in Brooklyn, and is associate web editor at Poets & Writers.

Creative Nonfiction

Douglas A. Martin is author most recently of a book-length essay, Acker (Nightboat Books, 2017). In May 2020, Nightboat Books will publish his new novel, Wolf, and a 20-year anniversary edition of Outline of My Lover.

Cristina Rodriguez is the general manager at Deep Vellum Books, a bookstore in Dallas, TX that specializes in international literature, independent presses, and marginalized writers.

Lacy M. Johnson is the author of National Book Critic Circle Award finalists The Reckonings: Essays (Scriber, 2018) and The Other Side (Tin House Books, 2014), a memoir. She teaches creative nonfiction at Rice University and is the Founding Director of the Houston Flood Museum.


Thom Donovan is the author of numerous books, including most recently Withdrawn (Compline, 2017). He co-edits and publishes ON Contemporary Practice. He is also the editor of four books, including Occupy Poetics (Essay Press, 2015).

Simone White is the author of three books, including most recently Dear Angel of Death (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2018) and two poetry chapbooks, including Unrest (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013). She teaches at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in Brooklyn.

Celina Su is the author of Landia (Belladonna*, 2018), two poetry chapbooks, and three books on the politics of social policy and civil society. She is the Marilyn J. Gittell Chair in Urban Studies and a professor of political science at the City University of New York.


Laura Cogan is the editor of Zyzzyva, and holds a BA and an MA from New York University. in 2020, Zyzzyva celebrates 35 years of independent publishing.

Alexandra Watson is a co-founder and executive editor of Apogee Journal. She is the recipient of the 2019 PEN/Nora Magid Prize for Literary Magazine editing. She teaches first year writing at Barnard College as a full-time lecturer.

Ruben Quesada is the poetry editor of AGNI, the executive director of Arte Americas, and the founder of the AWP Latinx Writers Caucus. He is the author of the chapbook Revelations (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2018).

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