Firecracker Awards Winners Archive

Learn more about past Firecracker Awards winners, finalists, and judges below.

2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2023 Firecracker Awards Winners

FICTION: Brother Alive by Zain Khalid, published by Grove Atlantic

Cover of the novel Brother Alive by Zain Khalid, featuring shapes in black, pink, and red.From the Judges:

“The sentences in Brother Alive present like small, astonishing jewels, and the brilliance of this novel only accrues from there. Brother Alive’s extraordinary writing develops into a propulsive narrative that is a genuine pleasure to follow—one that both surprises and delights. This novel is surreal, complex, puzzling, mind-expanding, imaginative, original, and presciently relevant to our times.”

Zain Khalid’s debut novel, Brother Alive, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize for best first book in any genre, received the 2023 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, and was named a best book of 2022 by Library Journal and other outlets. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, n+1, The Believer, Astra Magazine, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, and elsewhere. He is also the fiction editor at The Drift.

Grove Atlantic is an independent literary publisher founded in 1917 and based in New York City. Through its imprints Grove Press, Atlantic Monthly Press, Black Cat, and Roxane Gay Books, Grove Atlantic publishes fiction, drama, poetry, literature in translation, and general nonfiction.


CREATIVE NONFICTION: Optic Subwoof by Douglas Kearney, published by Wave Books

Cover of the nonfiction book Optic Subwoof by Douglas Kearney, featuring splashes of pink and yellow.From the Judges:

“Here are a few words that come to mind when reading Douglas Kearney’s Optic Subwoof: sonic, polyphonic, urgent in delivery and in truth. Beginning with the book’s first sentence— ‘Hush.’— readers are invited into a work of creative nonfiction where language is at its best and most playful and yet most serious. Optic Subwoof shows us how vital and limitless human creativity is.”

Douglas Kearney is the author, most recently, of Optic Subwoof (Wave Books, 2022), a Bagley Wright Lecture Series book. He has published seven poetry collections, including Sho (Wave Books, 2021), which won the Griffin Poetry Award and the Minnesota Book Award, and which was a finalist for the National Book Award, the PEN/Voelcker Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. He is also the author of Buck Studies (Fence Books, 2016), winner of the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Award, the CLMP Firecracker Award for Poetry, and the California Book Award silver medal for poetry. Kearney teaches creative writing at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and lives in St. Paul with his family.

Wave Books, founded in 2005 and based in Seattle, Washington, is an independent poetry press dedicated to publishing exceptional contemporary poetry, poetry in translation, and writing by poets. Wave Books challenges the values and practices of readers and adds to the collective sense of what is possible in contemporary poetry.


POETRY: Customs by Solmaz Sharif, published by Graywolf Press

Cover of the poetry collection Customs by Solmaz Sharif, featuring black text and frame on a textured red field.From the Judges:

“In Customs, Solmaz Sharif pushes into a bold examination of the exhausting uncertainties and irreconcilable conditions of life in exile in the United States. Throughout, the poems in Customs feel fearless even in their fear. When the speaker sees, the poems skillfully call the reader to see with great caution and grief the external and internal powers over belonging as family members, citizens, and poets. This collection is thrilling to read—scathing, insightful, and original.”

Solmaz Sharif is the author of Customs (Graywolf Press, 2022) and Look (Graywolf Press, 2016), which was a finalist for the National Book Award and a New York Times Notable Book. She has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Her poetry has appeared in Granta, the New Republic, and Poetry. She is currently the Shirley Shenker Assistant Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley.

Graywolf Press, founded in 1974 and based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a nonprofit literary publisher of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and work in translation. The press, which champions outstanding writers at all stages of their careers, is committed to the discovery and energetic publication of twenty-first century American and international literature.



Cover of issue 2 of 128 lit, featuring cover art cover art by Yehui Zhao.From the Judges:

“This magazine is bursting with boldness and energy. 128 Lit’s mission of disrupting eurocentric narratives and aesthetics is both admirable and well-executed within the journal’s contents. The journal’s contributors are diverse and talented, and the work includes translations and audio recordings in addition to the standard poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. The weaving of literature and art and the thoughtful layout—along with a clean and clearly organized website—is splendid. Though 128 Lit is new, its intention (and magic) can be felt throughout the pages of the publication.”

128 Lit, founded in 2022 and based in New York City, is a print and online literature and art magazine that has an international focus. 128 Lit is committed to publishing poetry, translation, fiction, essays, hybrid works, and art that startle and move. The magazine is a vital and growing community that collapses the distances between languages, countries, and emerging and established artists and voices.



Cover of the Ocean issue of Ecotone, featuring cover art titled "Chandelier—Sea, Land, Sky" by Bovey Lee.From the Judges:

Ecotone is a wonderful journal, whose consistent excellence is all the more impressive for its continued thematic focus. As befits a magazine with a focus on place, the visuals and layout of the print journal are compelling and enhance the written work while standing on their own. There aren’t many publishers taking on the challenge of amplifying incredible environmental and political pieces, and the editors’ attention to diversity among the contributors is clear. Ecotone is carving out their own lane with ease!”

Ecotone’s mission is to publish and promote the best place-based work being written today. Founded in 2005 at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, on the traditional and ancestral territory of the Waccamaw, Catawba, and Cape Fear People, the award-winning magazine features writing and art that reimagine place, exploring the ecotones between landscapes, literary genres, scientific and artistic disciplines, identities, and modes of thought.


2023 Lord Nose Award Recipient

Christine Holbert, Founding Director and Publisher of Lost Horse Press


Christine Lysnewycz Holbert, Founding Director and Publisher of Lost Horse Press, is the recipient of the 2023 Lord Nose Award, given in recognition of a lifetime of superlative work in literary publishing.

Holbert, who holds an MA in publishing from Eastern Washington University and is also a founder of Spokane’s Get Lit! Literary Arts Festival, established Lost Horse Press in Spokane, Washington, in 1998. Over the past twenty-five years, this nonprofit, independent press has published more than 130 books of poetry and fourteen fiction titles. Lost Horse Press is home to the New Poets Series, the Human Rights Series, the Native American Series, and the Lost Horse Press Contemporary Ukrainian Poetry Series—which features translations of preeminent Ukrainian poets, presented in dual-language format. 

Shortly after its founding, Holbert moved Lost Horse Press to Sandpoint, Idaho, and in 2004 she established the Idaho Prize for Poetry, a national poetry competition awarding prize money and publication to a poetry manuscript annually. In 2022, Holbert and Lost Horse Press relocated to Liberty Lake, Washington. There, Holbert organizes creative writing workshops and literary readings and locally hosts 100 Thousand Poets for Change, a worldwide annual poetry and music event in which artists come together to express their visions for positive change. 

Read more about Christine Holbert, Lost Horse Press, and the Lord Nose Award.

2023 Firecracker Awards Finalists


Brother Alive by Zain Khalid, published by Grove Atlantic
God’s Children Are Little Broken Things by Arinze Ifeakandu, published by A Public Space Books
Stories of a Life by Nataliya Meshchaninova, translated by Fiona Bell, published by Deep Vellum
Violets by Kyung-sook Shin, translated by Anton Hur, published by Feminist Press
When I Sing, Mountains Dance by Irene Solà, translated by Mara Faye Lethem, published by Graywolf Press

Creative Nonfiction

Brown Neon by Raquel Gutiérrez, published by Coffee House Press
Conversations with Birds by Priyanka Kumar, published by Milkweed Editions
Imminent Domains: Reckoning with the Anthropocene by Alessandra Naccarato, published by Book*hug Press
O by Tammy Nguyen, published by Ugly Duckling Presse
Optic Subwoof by Douglas Kearney, published by Wave Books


Customs by Solmaz Sharif, published by Graywolf Press
Look at This Blue by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, published by Coffee House Press
Maafa by Harmony Holiday, published by Fence Books
The Rupture Tense by Jenny Xie, published by Graywolf Press
Togetherness by Wo Chan, published by Nightboat Books

Magazines: Best Debut

128 Lit
The Ampersand Review of Writing & Publishing
LIBER: A Feminist Review
Lines & Breaks

Magazines: General Excellence

The Arkansas International
Ninth Letter
Oxford American


2023 Firecracker Award Judges


Karen Maeda Allman, former Author Events Co-Coordinator, Elliott Bay Book Company
Kristen Arnett, author of With Teeth, published by Riverhead Books
Vauhini Vara, author of  The Immortal King Rao, published by W. W. Norton

Creative Nonfiction

Cinelle Barnes, author of Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir, published by Little A
Daisy Hernández, author of The Kissing Bug, published by Tin House
Emerson Whitney, author of Heaven, published by McSweeney’s


Kemi Alabi, author of Against Heaven, published by Graywolf Press
Jenny Gropp, author of The Hominine Egg, published by Kore Press
Komal Mathew, author of For Daughters Who Walk Out Like Sons, published by Zone 3 Press


S. Tremaine Nelson, Editor and Publisher, Northwest Review
Alysia Li Ying Sawchyn, Editor in Chief, The Rumpus
NaBeela Washington, Founder and Editor in Chief, Lucky Jefferson

2022 Firecracker Award Winners

FICTION: Pleasantview by Celeste Mohammed, published by Ig Publishing

Pleasantview by Celeste MohammedFrom the Judges:

“Set in the fictional town of Pleasantview, Trinidad, Mohammed’s novel in stories–such a difficult genre to pull off–offers up an unforgettable cast of characters, each intertwined in surprising and complicated ways. Mohammed never shies away from the complications of colonialism, capitalism, and misogyny, while at the same time, leavening these subjects with humor and an impeccable ear for language and voice. Pleasantview is a great contribution to Trinidadian and Caribbean literature, as well as to independent literary fiction.”

Celeste Mohammed‘s work has appeared in The New England Review, Litmag, Epiphany, and The Rumpus, among other places. Several of the stories in Pleasantview have won awards, including the 2018 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers, the 2019 Virginia Woolf Award for Short Fiction, and the 2017 John D Gardner Memorial Prize for Fiction. A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Mohammed graduated from Lesley University with an MFA in creative writing. She currently resides in Trinidad with her family.

Ig Publishing, founded in 2002, is a New York-based award-winning independent press dedicated to publishing original literary fiction and political and cultural nonfiction. Ig Publishing’s books have been reviewed in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Oprah Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, and NPR, among many other places.


CREATIVE NONFICTION: Plastic: An Autobiography by Allison Cobb, published by Nightboat Books

Plastic: An AutobiographyFrom the Judges:

Plastic: An Autobiography is an ambitious braid of industrial history, material culture, and memoir. With its formal ambition and intelligence, yoking the movement between self and world, the book demonstrates that in the micro we can hold onto the macro, and in the macro the micro accrues meaning. Plastic is wildly impressive, a thoughtful meditation on plastic but also all of life.”

Allison Cobb is the author of After We All Died (Ahsahta Press); Born2 (Chax Press); and Green-Wood, originally published by Factory School with a new edition in 2018 from Nightboat Books. Cobb’s work has appeared in Best American Poetry, Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, and many other journals. She was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award and National Poetry Series; has been a resident artist at Djerassi and Playa; and received fellowships from the Oregon Arts Commission, the Regional Arts and Culture Council, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Cobb works for the Environmental Defense Fund and lives in Portland, Oregon.

Nightboat Books, founded in 2004, is based in Brooklyn, New York, and seeks to develop audiences for writers whose work resists convention and transcends boundaries by publishing books rich with poignancy, intelligence and risk.


POETRY: book of the other: small in comparison by Truong Tran, published by Kaya Press

book of the other: small in comparisonFrom the Judges:

book of the other: small in comparison is a tour-de-force indictment of academic culture. Tran’s poems break silence, spotlight erasures, and act as a whistleblower to the oppressive costs and complicities of an illusory and precarious ‘inclusion’ within privileged institutional spaces. This is a book of bravery, honesty, and anger, but also a book of care and concern: one that creates a space to explore feelings of hauntedness, feelings of being hunted, while enacting its own pedagogies and poetics through a series of searing illuminations.”

Truong Tran was born in Saigon, Vietnam. He is the author of the poetry collections The Book of Perceptions (Kearney Street Workshop, 1999); Placing the Accents (1999), Dust and Conscience (2002), Within The Margin (2004), Four Letter Words (2008), all published by Apogee Press; and 100 Words, co-authored with Damon Potter (Omnidawn, 2021), as well as the children’s book, Going Home Coming Home (Lee & Low Books, 2021) and an artist monograph, I Meant to Say Please Pass the Sugar. He is the recipient of The Poetry Center Prize, The Fund For Poetry Grant, The California Arts Council Grant, and numerous San Francisco Arts Commission Grants. Tran lives in San Francisco and currently teaches at Mills College, Oakland.

Kaya Press, founded in 1994 and housed at the University of Southern California, has established itself as the premier publisher of cutting-edge Asian and Pacific Islander diasporic writers in the United States. Its diverse list of titles includes experimental poetry, noir fiction, film memoir, avant-garde art, performance pieces, “lost” novels, and everything in between. Kaya and its authors have been the recipients of numerous awards, including the Gregory Kolovakas Prize for Outstanding New Literary Press, the American Book Award, the Association for Asian American Studies Book Award, the PEN Beyond Margins Open Book Prize, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop Award, and the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Prize.



SISTORIESFrom the Judges:

This enchanting debut literary magazine is a radical invitation to readers to be active partners with the material. This multifaceted journal is simultaneously a collection of urgent, fierce writing; a repository of required reading lists; and a generative workbook nurturing all who pick it up to become creators. SISTORIES is pushing the bounds of what a literary magazine can be, actively working toward reimagining the American literary canon.”

SISTORIES, founded in 2020, is an interactive Black Feminist/Womanist literary magazine and community writing workshop based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. By publishing the essays, fiction, poetry, visual art, and photography of Southern Black women and femmes, pairing their narratives with interactive workbook elements, and hosting free community writing workshops, SISTORIES aims to transform the conditions and impact of oppressive systems.


MAGAZINES/GENERAL EXCELLENCE: Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora

ObsidianFrom the Judges:

“A brilliant, self-possessed masterpiece of a literary journal, Obsidian is a magazine with a critical legacy that continues to convene new ideas and fearless writing from the African Diaspora. Each issue thrills in form and content, at once brand new and rooted—a testament to the editorial vision. The magazine is a singular, spectacular cultural treasure.”

Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, an international, peer-reviewed, biannual literary journal/publishing platform, was founded in 1975 and was the vision of the late poet Alvin Aubert. Currently housed at Illinois State University, Obsidian is committed to publishing the highest quality innovative, hybrid, and multimedia works that push the boundaries of genre and concepts of Black art, including contemporary poetry, drama/performing arts, trans-media work, and literary criticism.

2022 Lord Nose Award Recipient

Bradford Morrow, Editor of Conjunctions

Bradford Morrow

Photo credit: Lily Henderson

Bradford Morrow, Editor of Conjunctions magazine, is the recipient of the 2022 Lord Nose Award, given in recognition of a lifetime of superlative work in literary publishing.

Morrow is author of ten books of fiction, including the novels Come Sunday (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1988), The Almanac Branch (Simon & Schuster, 1991), Trinity Fields (Viking, 1995), Giovanni’s Gift (Viking, 1997), Ariel’s Crossing (Viking, 2002), The Diviner’s Tale (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), The Forgers (Mysterious Press, 2014), The Prague Sonata (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2017), and The Forger’s Daughter (Mysterious Press, 2020), and a collection of stories, The Uninnocent (Pegasus Books, 2013). Co-editor of the anthologies The New Gothic (Random House, 1991) and The Inevitable: Contemporary Writers Confront Death (W. W. Norton, 2011), Morrow is the recipient of numerous awards, among them the Academy Award in Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, O. Henry and Pushcart Prizes, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner and Los Angeles Times Book Awards.

He founded and edits the acclaimed literary journal, Conjunctions, for which he received the PEN/Nora Magid Award, and has also published several volumes of poetry, including Posthumes (Cadmus Editions, 1982) and A Bestiary (Grenfell Press, 1990), as well as a children’s book, Didn’t Didn’t Do It (Putnam, 2007), in collaboration with the legendary cartoonist Gahan Wilson. His stories and essays have been widely anthologized—including in Best American Noir of the Century (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010), edited by James Ellroy and Otto Penzler—and his work has been translated into a dozen languages. In 2022, he contributed the introduction to a new edition of John Fowles’s The Collector (Suntup Editions). Professor of literature and Bard Center Fellow at Bard College, he divides his time between New York City and an old farmhouse in upstate New York. Morrow’s forthcoming novel, The Forger’s Requiem (Grove Atlantic), will complete his bibliomystery series, the Forgers Trilogy.

Read more about Bradford Morrow, Conjunctions, and the Lord Nose Award.

2022 Firecracker Award Finalists


Farthest South and Other Stories by Ethan Rutherford, published by A Strange Object
The House of Rust: A Novel by Khadija Abdalla Bajaber, published by Graywolf Press
Householders by Kate Cayley, published by Biblioasis
Pleasantview by Celeste Mohammed, published by Ig Publishing
The Trees: A Novel by Percival Everett, published by Graywolf Press

Creative Nonfiction

Dear Memory: Letters on Writing, Silence, and Grief by Victoria Chang, published by Milkweed Editions
Footnotes: The Black Artists Who Rewrote the Rules of the Great White Way by Caseen Gaines, published by Sourcebooks
Migratory Birds by Mariana Oliver, translated by Julia Sanches, published by Transit Books
Names for Light: A Family History by Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint, published by Graywolf Press
Plastic: An Autobiography by Allison Cobb, published by Nightboat Books


book of the other: small in comparison by Truong Tran, published by Kaya Press
CURB by Divya Victor, published by Nightboat Books
Phantompains by Therese Estacion, published by Book*hug Press
To Know Crush by Jennifer Jackson Berry, published by YesYes Books
Winter Phoenix: Testimonies in Verse by Sophia Terazawa, published by Deep Vellum

Magazines: Best Debut

Inverted Syntax
Islandia Journal
Nowruz Journal

Magazines: General Excellence

The American Poetry Review
Bellevue Literary Review
Chicago Review
The Evergreen Review
Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora

2022 Firecracker Award Judges


Donna Hemans, author of Tea by the Sea, published by Red Hen Press
Carley Moore, author of The Not Wives, published by Feminist Press
Cristina Rivera Garza, author of Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country, published by Feminist Press

Creative Nonfiction

Ander Monson, author of I Will Take the Answer, published by Graywolf Press
Joni Tevis, author of The World Is on Fire: Scrap, Treasure, and Songs of Apocalypse, published by Milkweed Editions
Melissa Valentine, author of The Names of All the Flowers, published by Feminist Press


Xan Phillips, author of Hull, published by Nightboat Books
Lee Ann Roripaugh, author of tsunami vs. the fukushima 50, published by Milkweed Editions
Jillian Weise, author of Cyborg Detective, published by BOA Editions


Lana Barkawi, Executive and Artistic Director, Mizna
Rob Greene, Publisher, Raleigh Review
Miah Jeffra, Cofounder, Foglifter Journal

2021 Firecracker Award Winners

FICTION: Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda, translated by Polly Barton, published by Soft Skull Press

From the Judges
“Aoko Matsuda’s short story collection, Where the Wild Ladies Are, takes impressive risks and showcases a range of narrative engagement. Its tone can shift from poignant to hilarious to meditative, often within the same story. There’s a masterful sense of breath as the author subsumes and transforms Japanese folktales in unexpected ways.”

Aoko Matsuda is a writer and translator. In 2013, her debut book, Stackable, was nominated for the Yukio Mishima Prize and the Noma Literary New Face Prize. Her novella The Girl Who Is Getting Married was published by the UK-based Strangers Press in 2016. In 2019, her short story “The Woman Dies” was shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award. She has translated work by Karen Russell, Amelia Gray, and Carmen Maria Machado into Japanese.

Translator Polly Barton​ is a translator of Japanese literature and nonfiction, including the full-length translations Friendship for Grown-ups by Naocola Yamazaki (Strangers Press), Mikumari by Misumi Kubo (Strangers Press), and Spring Garden by Tomoka Shibasaki (Pushkin Press). She has also translated short stories for Words Without Borders, The White Review, and GRANTA. She is the recipient of the 2019 Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize.

Soft Skull Press was founded in 1992 in New York City and has published works by Eileen Myles, Maggie Nelson, Noam Chomsky, Lydia Millet, Alain Mabanckou, and many more. The press’s books have been awarded numerous Lambda Literary Awards, as well as the Quill Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction, and have been finalists for the Believer Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Read a full citation from the judges.



From the Judges:
“This is a magazine interested in the momentum and power of diverse voices—and in creating a beautiful space in which those voices can flourish. A great read and a truly excellent teaching tool, the magazine uses discussion questions and writing prompts alongside the creative work to make space for conversation in a new way.”

Lucky Jefferson is a print and online literary journal that generates constructive and interactive conversations around poetry, art, and publishing and redefines the way journals are produced and shared. Founded in 2018, the journal aims to diversify literature by publishing poetry, flash fiction, essays, and art that highlight the voices of writers and artists identifying as Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

Read a full citation from the judges.


POETRY: The Malevolent Volume by Justin Phillip Reed, published by Coffee House Press

From the Judges:
“A dextrous and epic music, this book faces down our combative and trespassed American moment. Almost every line is meant to be repeated slowly and held aloft for its heart-stopping craftsmanship.”

Justin Phillip Reed is the author of Indecency (Coffee House Press), winner of the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry and Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. He earned his BA in creative writing at Tusculum College and his MFA in poetry at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the 2019-2021 Fellow in Creative Writing at the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics and has received fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation, the Conversation Literary Festival, and the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis.

Coffee House Press, founded in 1972, is an internationally renowned nonprofit publisher of literary fiction, essays, poetry, and other work that doesn’t fit neatly into genre categories. The Minneapolis-based press creates new spaces for audiences and artists to interact, inspiring readers and enriching communities by expanding the definition of what literature is, what it can do, and who it belongs to.

Read a full citation from the judges.



From the Judges:
“This beautiful and surprising magazine combines a strong international reach with a sense of rooted regionalism, working to create a nexus of vibrant and robust artistic intersection. Singing, emotionally compelling, intentional, and wrought, this is a magazine that is deeply alive, and we are made more alive by reading it.”

Mizna is a critical platform for contemporary literature, art, film, and cultural programming centering the work of Arab and Southwest Asian and North African artists. Since the organization’s founding in 1999, Mizna has published 38 issues of Mizna: Prose, Poetry, and Art Exploring Arab America, presenting more than 350 authors and 32 visual artists authentically with the understanding that in a culture that often vilifies our communities and their various intersections, it is essential that artists have a space to speak for ourselves.

Read a full citation from the judges.


CREATIVE NONFICTION: The Names of All the Flowers by Melissa Valentine, published by Feminist Press

From the Judges:
“In this stunning debut, Melissa Valentine traces an unforgettable narrative of growing up the daughter of a white Quaker man and his Black Southern wife. This is a memoir filled with grief and tenderness as it keenly navigates its way around her compelling devotion to her older brother, powerfully piecing together how tragedy could befall this community in the first place.”

Melissa Valentine​ is a writer from Oakland, California. She received a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA in creative writing from Mills College. She has been a fellow at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. Her work has appeared in Jezebel, Guernica, Apogee Journal, and elsewhere and has received honorable mentions from Glimmer Train and the Ardella Mills Nonfiction Award.

Feminist Press publishes books that ignite movements and social transformation, seeking to champion intersectional and nuanced works that spark much-needed dialogue and move the feminist conversation forward. Founded in 1970 and based in New York City, it lifts up insurgent and marginalized voices from around the world to build a more just future.

Read a full citation from the judges.

2021 Lord Nose Award

Charles Alexander & CHAX Press

Founded in 1984 by Charles Alexander, CHAX Press strives to create unique book arts editions to explore the relationship between book forms and contemporary poetry and to make challenging and innovative contemporary writing available to the public. In addition to publishing nearly 250 books, CHAX Press has also sponsored readings, multi-art events, symposia and small conferences, educational projects, podcasts, and more, in an attempt to increase the impact of poetry in our lives.

Charles Alexander is the author of six books of poetry, most recently AT the Edge OF the Sea: Pushing Water II (Singing Horse Press) and Pushing Water (Cuneiform Press), as well as numerous chapbooks, including Some Sentences Look for Some Periods (Red Leaves Textile Series). Pushing Water III is forthcoming from Cuneiform Press. Alexander has taught literature and writing at multiple universities, including Naropa University, University of Arizona, and the University of Houston-Victoria, where he directed the MFA Creative Writing Program and managed the UHV Center for the Arts from 2014 through 2018. He lives in Tucson, Arizona, with his partner, the painter Cynthia Miller.

Read more about Charles Alexander & CHAX Press, and the Lord Nose Award.

Read the Lord Nose Award citation and Charles Alexander’s acceptance speech.

2021 Firecracker Award Finalists:

David Tung Can’t Have a Girlfriend Until He Gets Into an Ivy League College by Ed Lin, published by Kaya Press
Fiebre Tropical by Juli Delgado Lopera, published by Feminist Press
Further News of Defeat by Michael X. Wang, published by Autumn House Press
Hezada! I Miss You by Erin Pringle, published by Awst Press
Silence Is My Mother Tongue by Sulaiman Addonia, published by Graywolf Press
Silverfish by Rone Shavers, published by CLASH Books
Telephone by Percival Everett, published by Graywolf Press
Temporary by Hilary Leichter, published by Coffee House Press
When the Whales Leave by Yuri Rytkheu, translated by Ilona Yazhbin Chavasse, published by Milkweed Editions
Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda, translated by Polly Barton, published by Soft Skull Press


Magazines: Best Debut
Gasher Journal
Lucky Jefferson


america, MINE by Sasha Banks, published by co•im•press
DMZ Colony by Don Mee Choi, published by Wave Books
Fugitive Atlas by Khaled Mattawa, published by Graywolf Press
Homie by Danez Smith, published by Graywolf Press
The Malevolent Volume by Justin Phillip Reed, published by Coffee House Press
OBIT by Victoria Chang, published by Copper Canyon Press
Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz, published by Graywolf Press
Salt Body Shimmer by Aricka Foreman, published by YesYes Books
Wound from the Mouth of a Wound by torrin a. greathouse, published by Milkweed Editions
Year of the Dog by Deborah Paredez, published by BOA Editions


Magazines: General Excellence
American Short Fiction
The Kenyon Review
Mizna: Prose, Poetry, and Art Exploring Arab America
New England Review
Oxford American
Raleigh Review
The Seventh Wave
World Literature Today


Creative Nonfiction
Bright Archive by Sarah Minor, published by Rescue Press
The Dragons, the Giant, the Women by Wayétu Moore, published by Graywolf Press
Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country by Cristina Rivera Garza, translated by Sarah Booker, published by Feminist Press
Just Us: An American Conversation by Claudia Rankine, published by Graywolf Press
Lecture by Mary Cappello, published by Transit Books
The Names of All the Flowers by Melissa Valentine, published by Feminist Press
Nine Moons by Gabriela Wiener, translated by Jessica Powell, published by Restless Books
Pass With Care by Cooper Lee Bombardier, published by Dottir Press
Stranger Faces by Namwali Serpell, published by Transit Books
This Is One Way to Dance by Sejal Shah, published by University of Georgia Press

2021 Firecracker Award Judges


Natanya Ann Pulley, author of With Teeth, published by New Rivers Press

Irene Yoon, Director of the LARB Publishing Workshop at the Los Angeles Review of Books

Robert Yune, author of Impossible Children, published by Sarabande Books


Creative Nonfiction

E. J. Koh, author of The Magical Language of Others, published by Tin House Books

Paul Lisicky, author of Later: My Life at the Edge of the World, published by Graywolf Press

Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, published by Milkweed Editions



Sarah Gambito, author of Loves You, published by Persea Books

Raquel Salas Rivera, author of while they sleep (under the bed is another country), published by Birds, LLC

Malcolm Tariq, author of Heed the Hollow, published by Graywolf Press



Charles Flowers, Editor, BLOOM Literary Journal

Keetje Kuipers, Editor, Poetry Northwest

Marcus Wicker, Poetry Editor, Southern Indiana Review


2020 Firecracker Award Winners

FICTION: They Will Drown in Their Mothers’ Tears by Johannes Anyuru, translated by Saskia Vogel, published by Two Lines Press

From the Judges
“This exceptional novel defies categorization and investigates the many facets of terror and xenophobia through the story of a radicalized young woman.”

Johannes Anyuru is a poet, novelist, and playwright. He has published numerous books, including the novel ​A Storm Blew in from Paradise​ (World Editions, 2019). In 2017, he was awarded the August Prize for Best Fiction Book of the Year. Anyuru’s work has been likened to a mix between Nobel Laureate Thomas Tranströmer and a hip-hop MC.

Translator Saskia Vogel’s​ translations include work by leading female authors, such as Katrine Marçal, Carolina Ramqvist, and the modernist eroticist Rut Hillarp. Vogel’s debut novel, Permission​ (Coach House Books), was published in 2019.

Two Lines Press exists to give American readers the opportunity to read some of the great work from outside our borders that they would not otherwise get to see. As the barriers between cultures continue to come down and more and more authors are finding inspiration in foreign lands, there’s all the more reason for us to read the world.


CREATIVE NONFICTION: throughsmoke by Jehanne Dubrow, published by New Rivers Press

From the Judges:
“With a particular focus on fragrances, Dubrow follows her nose into the terrain of memory, but also into the relationship of scent to grief and desire, and how these emotions might be felt, understood, and smelled.”

Jehanne Dubrow​ is the author of six poetry collections, including most recently ​Dots & Dashes (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry, 2017), ​The Arranged Marriage​ (Mary Burritt Christiansen Poetry Series, 2015), and ​Red Army Red (​ Triquarterly, 2012). She is an associate professor of creative writing at the University of North Texas.

New Rivers Press​ maintains a dual mission: to connect the best new and emerging writers and storytellers from across Minnesota and the world with eager audiences and to provide hands-on learning opportunities at Minnesota State University Moorhead for students interested in entering the publishing world after graduation.


POETRY (co-winner): Motion Studies ​by Jena Osman, published by Ugly Duckling Presse

From the Judges:
“Jena Osman’s ​Motion Studies​ defies categorization, combining science writing, dystopian (science) fiction, popular journalism, critical theory, and lyricism.”

Jena Osman’sbooks of poems include ​Corporate Relations​ (Burning Deck, 2014), ​Public Figures​ (Wesleyan University Press, 2012), ​The Network​ (Fence Books, National Poetry Series selection, 2010), and others. She cofounded and coedited the literary magazine ​Chain​ with Juliana Spahr from 1994-2005.

Ugly Duckling Presse​ is a nonprofit publisher for poetry, translation, experimental nonfiction, performance texts, and books by artists. UDP favors emerging, international, and “forgotten” writers, and its books, chapbooks, artists books, broadsides, and periodicals often contain handmade elements, calling attention to the labor and history of bookmaking.


POETRY (co-winner): Personal Volcano​ by Laura Moriarty, published by Nightboat Books

From the Judges:
Personal Volcano​ is a tension between the ‘social’ and the ‘deep ecological’—encompassing of something larger and more powerful than the anthropocentric could ever admit.”

Laura Moriarty’sbooks include ​A Tonalist​ (Nightboat Books, 2010), ​A Semblance: Selected and New Poems, 1975-2007​ (Omnidawn, 2007), ​Ultraviolet​ (Atelos, 2006), and others. In addition to having taught at Naropa University and Mills College, she was the deputy director of Small Press Distribution.

Nightboat Books​ seeks to develop audiences for writers whose work resists convention and transcends boundaries by publishing books rich with poignancy, intelligence, and risk.


MAGAZINES: BEST DEBUT: Porter House Review

From the Judges:
Porter House Review​ publishes well-crafted prose and verse that is attentive to form and captivating. The journal demonstrates inclusivity, publishing works by writers from a wide range of backgrounds and exploring expansive themes.”

Porter House Review​ is an online literary journal produced in conjunction with Texas State University’s MFA program in Creative Writing. Inspired by the legacy of Katherine Anne Porter, the journal seeks to publish bold and incisive writing that interrogates not only the complexities of the human experience, but also the prevailing social challenges of our time.



From the Judges:
“With a mission to ‘celebrate the art of translation,’ ​Two Lines Journal​ highlights the exceptional work of both writers and translators, offering Anglophone readers a rare chance to connect with stories and ideas across cultures.”

Two Lines Journal​, published in conjunction with Two Lines Press, ​exists to give American readers the opportunity to read some of the great work from outside our borders that they would not otherwise get to see. As the barriers between cultures continue to come down and more and more authors are finding inspiration in foreign lands, there’s all the more reason for us to read the world.




2020 Lord Nose Award

W. Paul Coates & Black Classic Press

Black Classic Press LogoSince it was founded in 1978 by W. Paul Coates, Black Classic Press has specialized in republishing obscure and significant works by and about people of African descent. Black Classic Press has issued more than 135 titles and is still going strong, with four titles forthcoming in 2020 and 2021, plus twelve more books acquired from The Majority Press. Its best-selling titles include important classics, 100 Years of Lynching by Ralph Ginsburg, Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun by Reginald F. Lewis, Black Man of the Nile by Yosef Ben-Jochannon, When We Ruled by Robin Walker and Seize the Time by Bobby Seale.

Coates is a graduate of Atlanta University’s School of Library and Information Studies (1980) and SDC/Antioch University (1979). The coeditor of ​Black Bibliophiles and Collectors: Preservers of Black History​ (Howard University Press, 1990), Coates is an active Black bibliophile and collector of cultural artifacts. As a former African American Studies reference and acquisition librarian at Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Coates was responsible for collection development of African American books and related materials. His responsibilities included the selection and purchase of rare and non-rare items. In addition, he served as adjunct instructor of African American Studies at Sojourner-Douglass College, Baltimore, MD. He formerly owned and operated The Black Book (1972-1978), a Baltimore-based bookstore.

Read more about W. Paul Coates & Black Classic Press, and the Lord Nose Award.

2020 Firecracker Award Finalists:

Flowers of Mold by Ha Seong-nan, translated by Janet Hong, published Open Letter Books
Glory and Its Litany of Horrors by Fernanda Torres, translated by Eric M. B. Becker, published Restless Books
The Incompletes by Sergio Chejfec, translated by Heather Cleary, published by Open Letter Books
Last of Her Name by Mimi Lok, published by Kaya Press
The Not Wives by Carley Moore, published by The Feminist Press
Spider Love Song and Other Stories by Nancy Au, published by Acre Books
Tonic and Balm by Stephanie Allen, published by Shade Mountain Press
The Wind That Lays Waste by Selva Almada, translated by Chris Andrews, published by Graywolf Press

Creative Nonfiction
Axiomatic by Maria Tumarkin, published by Transit Books
Blackfishing the IUD by Caren Beilin, published by Wolfman Books
Codependence by Amy Long, published by Cleveland State University Poetry Center
Hatred of Translation by Nathanaël, published by Nightboat Books
Knitting the Fog by Claudia D. Hernández, published by The Feminist Press
Setting the Wire: A Memoir of Postpartum Psychosis by Sarah C. Townsend, published by The Lettered Streets Press
Socialist Realism by Trisha Low, published by Coffee House Press
We Both Laughed in Pleasure: The Selected Diaries of Lou Sullivan by Lou Sullivan, edited by Ellis Martin and Zach Ozma, published by Nightboat Books
White Flights by Jess Row, published by Graywolf Press

Dunce by Mary Ruefle, published by Wave Books
SLINGSHOT by Cyrée Jarelle Johnson, published by Nightboat Books
while they sleep (under the bed is another country) by Raquel Salas Rivera, published by Birds, LLC
Woodland by Knox Gardner, with music by Aaron Otheim, published by Entre Ríos Books

Magazines: Best Debut
Aquifer: The Florida Review Online

Magazines: General Excellence 
American Short Fiction
The Common
Foglifter Journal
The Kenyon Review
The Literary Review
New England Review
SLICE Magazine
Under a Warm Green Linden
Water~Stone Review

2020 Firecracker Award Judges


Bonnie Chau, author of All Roads Lead to Blood, published by 2040 Books
Melanie Fleishman, book buyer for the Center for Fiction, BookHampton, and Arcadia Books
Alex Gilvarry, author of Eastman Was Here, published by Penguin Books

Creative Nonfiction

Lacy M. Johnson, author of The Reckonings: Essays, published by Scribner
Douglas Martin, author of Acker, published by Nightboat Books
Cristina Rodriguez, bookseller at Deep Vellum Books


Thom Donovan, author of Withdrawn, published by Compline
Celina Su, author of Landia, published by Belladonna*
Simone White, author of Dear Angel of Death, published by Ugly Duckling Presse

Laura Cogan, Editor, Zyzzyva
Ruben Quesada, Poetry Editor, AGNI
Alexandra Watson, Executive Editor, Apogee Journal

2019 Firecracker Awards Winners

FICTION: Little Fish by Casey Plett, published by Arsenal Pulp Press

Little Fish by Casey Plett

Arsenal Pulp Press, established in 1971 and located in Vancouver, Canada, publishes literature that engages and challenges readers, and that asks probing questions about the world. Genres include literary fiction and nonfiction, graphic novels, and children’s and young adult titles, as well as books on social issues and gender studies and LGBTQ+ and BIPOC literature.

Casey Plett is the author of the novel Little Fish (Arsenal Pulp Press), winner of the 2019 Amazon Canada First Novel Award, and the Lambda Literary Award­­–winning story collection A Safe Girl to Love (Topside Press, 2014). She is also coeditor of the anthology Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers (Topside Press, 2017). She lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

From the Judges:

“In Little Fish, Casey Plett brings us fully into the world of her characters and lets us feel the fateful inevitability of their choices. Plett’s protagonist, Wendy, is searching for a hidden trans lineage in her own family tree. This heroic quest is at once deeply private and an enormously helpful way to think about what it means for any of us to come of age and become heroes of our own lives.”


CREATIVE NONFICTION: The Leftovers by Shaelyn Smith, published by Cleveland State University Poetry Center

The Leftovers by Shaelyn SmithCleveland State University Poetry Center was established in 1962 to promote poetry through readings and community outreach. In 1971, it expanded its mission to become a national nonprofit independent press under the auspices of the CSU Department of English and has since published over 200 titles. It currently publishes three to five books a year of poetry, essays, and works in translation, and runs the Lighthouse Reading Series in Cleveland. It also serves as an educational resource for students in the Northeast Ohio MFA program to learn literary editing and publishing through graduate assistantships and internships, and since 2018 has hosted the Anisfield-Wolf Fellowship in Writing and Publishing, which aims to promote diversity in literary publishing and programming.

Shaelyn Smith’s The Leftovers was selected by Renee Gladman as the winner of Cleveland State University Poetry Center’s 2017 Essay Collection Competition and was featured in “The Genre of Resistance: Debut Literary Nonfiction of 2018” in Poets & Writers Magazine. Smith’s writing has been published in Essay Daily, storySouth, Sonora Review, The Rumpus, and Forklift, Ohio. She lives in Auburn, Alabama.

From the Judges:

“The strength and poignancy of Shaelyn Smith’s The Leftovers rests in the work itself not being easily categorized. Emerging out of a critical engagement—one might even say a fixation—with Judy Chicago’s iconic feminist art installation The Dinner Party housed at the Brooklyn Museum, The Leftovers encapsulates feminist testimony, art criticism, and personal discovery while rendering the visual as tactile and vivid. Smith goes well beyond asking who has been brought to the table and who has been left out—she erects platforms for voices and perspectives, both historical and contemporary, that speak to how historical recovery can also be a trap. The viewpoints she brings together offer universal truths held by individuals and community through a tightness in structure, voice, and overall composition. With prose that encourages a kind of infectious curiosity, Smith cracks open what writing about art can mean for how we read the world around us. The Leftovers is singularly engaging and as essential to our shelves as it is to our everyday dialogue.”


POETRY: City of the Future by Sesshu Foster, published by Kaya Press

City of the FutureKaya Press, founded in 1994, is a nonprofit publishing house run by a group of dedicated writers, artists, readers, and lovers of books working together to publish the most challenging, thoughtful, and provocative literature being produced throughout the Asian and Pacific Island diasporas. Now based in Los Angeles, Kaya Press continues to push boundaries by publishing literature, historically overlooked books from the Asian Diaspora, and books on art and film.

Sesshu Foster was raised in East Los Angeles and earned his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Along with City of the Future, he is the author of the poetry collections World Ball Notebook (City Lights, 2009), which won an American Book Award and an Asian American Literary Award for Poetry, and City Terrace Field Manual (Kaya Press, 1996). He is also the author of the novel of speculative fiction Atomik Aztex (City Lights, 2005), which won the Believer Book Award. Foster has taught in East LA for 25 years as well as at the University of Iowa, the California Institute for the Arts, Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Pomona University, and the University of California, Santa Cruz. He lives in Los Angeles.

From the Judges:

“Sesshu Foster’s City of the Future forces readers to rethink poetry, postcards, and the present by asking us to reimagine how we use language but also how language is used upon us. His work is one of utmost service. On a neighborly and communitarian level, Foster’s work documents and challenges injustice. Beginning with ‘in the infinite city,’ the text builds image after image of sentient beings in “the city”—a space defined by its problematic (and dehumanizing) charge. City of the Future is part manifesto, part conversation/correspondence, and part elegy—this is a rare portrait of a space that is actively disappearing.”




Aster(ix) is a feminist literary arts journal based in Pittsburgh and New York City that is committed to social justice and translation, placing women of color at the center of the conversation. Available online, Aster(ix) also publishes a series of thematic print issues.

From the Judges:
“We are honored to award Aster(ix) the prize for Best Debut in Magazines. This refreshing new publication is striking, inspiring, and smartly visionary. The judges are impressed by the commitment to editorial excellence evident in the compelling content and clean design. Commendably, the journal’s mission highlights generative experiment, recognizing the relationship between the creative interrogation of dominant discourse and effective social change. Moreover, leading the charge to nurture and publish works by artists and writers committed to social change with particular attention to works by women of color working on the margin of their discipline, Aster(ix) serves as a remarkable beacon for our times and beyond. This is an impactful and stunning debut, charting and accomplishing necessary work in the field.”



ZYZZYVA publishes three issues of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art each year. In every issue, the journal provides an overview of contemporary arts and letters, with a vibrant mix of established talents and new voices. The journal is dedicated to preserving room for discovery and experimentation, both through fostering emerging talents and by making space for established writers working in new forms. Though ZYZZYVA’s purview is national (and beyond), its San Francisco roots shape the journal’s perspective, and its longtime focus on highlighting West Coast writers and artists remains essential to its mission. In 2020, ZYZZYVA will celebrate 35 years of independent publishing.

From the Judges:

“We are honored to award San Francisco-based print publication ZYZZYVA the prize for General Excellence in Magazines. Since its founding in 1985, ZYZZYVA has been committed to publishing with care and curatorial verve all genres of literature—including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and interviews—from writers known and emerging, as well as an impressive range of visual art.  Inclusive, equitable, and visionary, ZYZZYVA has impressed the judges with its unfailing standards of quality, scope, and its consistent contribution to and support of a broad spectrum of literature and literary conversation. They are an outstanding and longstanding example of the vital role of literary magazines and journals in the world.”


2019 Lord Nose Award

Poet Lee Ann Brown


The third annual Lord Nose Award, given in memory of Jonathan Williams, publisher of the legendary literary press The Jargon Society, in recognition of a lifetime of superlative small press publishing, was presented to Tender Buttons, founded by poet Lee Ann Brown in 1989 with the aim of publishing the best in experimental women’s writing.

Read CLMP Board Member David Wilk’s remarks about Tender Buttons.




2019 Firecracker Award Finalists


A Bright and Pleading Dagger by Nicole Rivas, published by Rose Metal Press

All Roads Lead to Blood by Bonnie Chau, published by Santa Fe Writers Project

Disoriental by Négar Djavadi, translated by Tina Kover, published by Europa Editions

Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead, published by Arsenal Pulp Press

Mina by Kim Sagwa, translated by Bruce and Ju-Chan, published by Two Lines Press

Strawberry Fields by Hilary Plum, published by Fence Books

The Taiga Syndrome by Cristina Rivera Garza, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana, published by Dorothy, a publishing project

That Which Girls Conjure Will Help Them Survive by Kristen Stone, published by Guillotine

Trick by Domenico Starnone, translated by Jhumpa Lahiri, published by Europa Editions



A Handbook of Disappointed Fate by Anne Boyer, published by Ugly Duckling Presse

An Imperfect Rapture by Kelly Beard, published by Zone 3 Press

Before They Left Us by Rosemary Ann Davis, self-published by Old Road Publishing

False Calm: A Journey Through the Ghost Towns of Patagonia by María Sonia Cristoff, translated by Katherine Silver, published by Transit Books

Letters from Max: A Book of Friendship by Sarah Ruhl and Max Ritvo, published by Milkweed Editions

Mating in Captivity: A Memoir by Helen Zuman, published with She Writes Press

No Archive Will Restore You by Julietta Singh, published by Punctum Books

To Float in the Space Between: A Life and Work in Conversation with the Life and Work of Etheridge Knight by Terrance Hayes, published by Wave Books



Baby, I Don’t Care by Chelsey Minnis, published by Wave Books

Body & Glass by Rodney Koeneke, published by Wave Books

Crosslight for Youngbird by Asiya Wadud, published by Nightboat Books

Dissolve by Sherwin Bitsui, published by Copper Canyon Press

GOOD MORNING AMERICA I AM HUNGRY AND ON FIRE by jamie mortara, published by YesYes Books

Milk by Dorothea Lasky, published by Wave Books

Post Traumatic Hood Disorder by David Tomas Martinez, published by Sarabande Books

The Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods by Tishani Doshi, published by Copper Canyon Press

You Will Always Be Someone From Somewhere Else by Dao Strom, translated by Ly Thuy Nguyen, published by AJAR Press



Aquifer: The Florida Review Online

Full Bleed

Headway Quarterly

Poet’s Country

The Arkansas International

The Bare Life Review

The Second Shelf: A Quarterly of Rare Books and Words by Women

Twyckenham Notes

Under a Warm Green Linden



Creative Nonfiction


Raleigh Review

Sinister Wisdom

The Cincinnati Review

The Common

The Literary Review

Washington Square Review

Water~Stone Review

2019 Judges


Andrea Lawlor is a fiction editor for Fence and the author of Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl (Rescue Press, 2017) & Position Papers (Factory Hollow Press, 2016).

Veronica Santiago Liu is founder and general coordinator of Word Up Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria. Previously, she was a Contributing Editor at Seven Stories Press, where she worked as Managing than Senior Editor for more than a decade.  

Robert Pollock is PEN America’s Prison Writing coordinator. Additionally, Robert is an ongoing participant in Rehabilitation Through the Arts, Musicambia, Refoundry, and Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections Advisory Committee. He is also a visual artist/singer-songwriter.  



Jennifer Baker is a publishing professional, writer, creator/host of the Minorities in Publishing podcast, contributing editor to Electric Literature. She is the editor of the short story anthology Everyday People: The Color of Life (Atria Books, 2018). 

Jeff Deutsch is the Director of the Seminary Co-op Bookstores, Inc., which includes 57th Street Books. Other than a two-year stint as a Live-Work Artist at the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, Deutsch has spent his entire career in bookselling. 

Jyothi Natarajan is Editorial Director at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. Previously, she was an editor at The Caravan magazine and The New Press. Her writing has appeared in the anthology Good Girls Marry Doctors (Aunt Lute, 2016).



Farrah Field is a co-founder of Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop. 

erica kaufman is the author of POST CLASSIC (forthcoming Roof Books, 2019), INSTANT CLASSIC (Roof Books, 2013), and censory impulse (Factory School, 2009). kaufman is the Director of Bard College the Institute for Writing & Thinking and where she is also Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities.

Dean Rader is a poet and author of Works & Days, Landscape Portrait Figure Form (Omnidawn, 2014). He is a professor at the University of San Francisco.



Maribeth Batcha is the Publisher and Co-founder of One Story.

Poet, sound artist, and scholar, Duriel E. Harris is an associate professor of English in the graduate creative program at Illinois State University and the Editor of Obsidian: Literature and Arts in the African Diaspora. She is author of three print poetry collections including No Dictionary of a Living Tongue (2017), winner of the Nightboat Poetry Prize.

Katie Raissian is Publisher and Editor of Stonecutter, and a literary fiction and nonfiction editor at Grove Atlantic.


2018 Firecracker Award Winners

FICTION: An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon, published by Akashic Books

CREATIVE NONFICTION: Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit by Aisha Sabatini Sloan, published by 1913 Press

POETRY: Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora, published by Copper Canyon Press

MAGAZINES: BEST DEBUT: Flock Literary Journal


LORD NOSE AWARD: Bobby and Lee Byrd & Cinco Puntos Press


2018 Firecracker Award Finalists


Empire of Glass by Kaitlin Solimine, published by Ig Publishing

I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On by Khadijah Queen, published by YesYes Books

Monolith by Yanick Lahens, translated by Emily Gogolak, published by Deep Vellum Publishing

North Station by Bae Suah, translated by Deborah Smith, published by Open Letter

Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor, published by Rescue Press

The Passion of Woo & Isolde by Jennifer Tsung, published by Rose Metal Press

The Right Way to be Crippled and Naked, edited by Sheila Black, Michael Northen, Annabelle Hayes, published by Cinco Puntos Press

Tom o’Vietnam by Baron Wormser, published by New Rivers Press



Asker by Douglas Martin, published by Nightboat Books

Caca Dolce: Essays from a Lowbrow Life by Chelsea Martin, published by Soft Skull Press

In the Province of the Gods by Kenny Fries, published by The University of Wisconsin Press

Pain Woman Takes Your Keys, and Other Essays from a Nervous System by Sonya Huber, published by University of Nebraska Press

Patagonian Road by Kate McCahill, published by Santa Fe Writers Project

Surviving Jersey: Danger and Insanity in the Garden State by Scott Loring Sanders, published by Outpost 19

The Flowers in My Mother’s Name by Philip Harris, published by Nomadic Press

There You Are: Interview, Journals and Ephemera by Joan Kyger and edited by Cedar Sigo, published by Wave Books



blud by Rachel McKibbens, published by Copper Canyon Press

Field Theories by Samiyah Bashir, published by Nightboat Books

I know Your Kind: Poems by William Brewer, published by Milkweed Editions

Silk Poem by Jen Bervin, published by Nightboat Books

The Happy End / All Welcome by Monica de la Torre, published by Ugly Duckling Presse

While Standing in Line for Death by CAConrad, published by Wave Books



Aquifer: The Florida Review Online

Better than Starbucks


Erizo: A Journal of the Arts


Paper Brigade

Poet’s Country

The Wax Paper

True Story

Under a Warm Green Linden




Creative Nonfiction


Full Stop

Georgia Review

New England Review


Words Without Borders



2018 Judges

FICTION: Sarah Mickelm, Jay Nicorvo, Jess Pane

CREATIVE NONFICTION: Luis Jaramillo, Marie Mitsuki Mockett, Geo Ong

POETRY: Mahogany Browne, Cassie Duggan, Christopher Soto

MAGAZINES: Clarence Reynolds, Jodie Stanley, Craig Morgan Teicher


2017 Firecracker Award Winners

FICTION: Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi, translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman, published by Deep Vellum Publishing

CREATIVE NONFICTION: Calamities by Renee Gladman, published by Wave Books

POETRY: Buck Studies by Douglas Kearney, published by Fence Books

MAGAZINES: BEST DEBUT: Bennington Review


LORD NOSE AWARD: Bruce McPherson & McPherson & Co.

2017 Firecracker Award Finalists


Blood of the Dawn by Claudia Salazar, translated by Elizabeth Bryer, published by Deep Vellum Publishing

Chronicle of the Murdered House by Lucio Cardoso, translated by Margaret Jull Costa & Robin Patterson, published by Open Letter

Gesell Dome by Guillermo Saccomanno, translated by Andrea G. Labinger, published by Open Letter

Into the Sun by Deni Ellis Béchard, published by Milkweed Editions

Nine Island by Jane Allison, published by Catapult

Say Something Nice About Me by Sara Schaff, published Augury Books

The Measure of Darkness by Liam Durcan, published by Bellevue Literary Press

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood, published Europa Editions

The Port-Wine Stain by Norman Lock, published by Bellevue Literary Press



A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century by Jerome Charyn, published by Bellevue Literary Press

Coast Range: A Collection from the Pacific Edge by Nick Neely, published by Counterpoint Press

Diving Makes the Water Deep by Zach Savic, published by Rescue Press

My Private Property by Mary Ruefle, published by Wave Books

Proxy: Essays Near Knowing {A Reckoning} by Brian Blanchfield, published by Nightboat Books

Sublime Physick: Essays by Patrick Madden, published by University of Nebraska Press

The Estrangement Principle by Ariel Goldberg, published by Nightboat Books

The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham, published by Milkweed Editions

The Voyager Record: A Transmission by Anthony Michael Morena, published by Rose Metal Press



Hammer with No Master: Poems of René Char by René Char, translated by Nancy Naomi Carlson

Hardly War by Don Mee Choi, published by Wave Books

Hell Figures by E. Tracy Grinnell, published by Nightboat Books

Music for Mussolini by Nick Johnson, published by Nomadic Press

Post- by Wayne Miller, published by Milkweed Editions

Profeta Without Refuge by Raina J. León, published by Nomadic Press

Remembering Animals by Brenda Iijima, published by Nightboat Books

Sympathetic Little Monster by Cameron Awkward-Rich, published by Ricochet Editions

The Tornado Is the World by Catherine Pierce, published by Saturnalia Books





Springhouse Journal

The Sixpenny Review

The Timberline Review



A Public Space

Gettysburg Review

Gulf Coast

Kenyon Review

MAKE Literary Magazine

New England Review

Ninth Letter

One Story


The Common

Virginia Quarterly Review


2017 Judges

FICTION: Jarrod Annis, Paul Lisicky, Pia Padrone

CREATIVE NONFICTION: Michele Filgate, Alison Gore, Alexandra Kleeman

POETRY: Anne Boyer, Camille Drummond, Patricia Spears Jones

MAGAZINES: Maribeth Batcha, Ellen Duffer, Brigid Hughes


2016 Firecracker Award Winners

FICTION: The Things We Don’t Do by Andrés Neuman, translated by Nick Caistor and Lorenzo Garcia, published by Open Letter

CREATIVE NONFICTION: The World Is on Fire: Scrap, Treasure, and Songs of Apocalypse by Joni Tevis, published by Milkweed Editions

POETRY: Garments Against Women by Anne Boyer, published by Ahsahta Press



2016 Firecracker Award Finalists


American Meteor by Norman Lock, published by Bellevue Literary Press

Ciao Suerte by Annie McGreevy, published by Nouvella

Home by Leila S. Chudori, translated by John McGlynn, published by Deep Vellum Press

Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese, published by Milkweed Editions

On the Island at the Center of the Center of the World by Elizabeth Kadetsky, published Nouvella

Pinkies by Shane Hinton, published by Burrow Press

The Listener by Rachel Basch, published by Pegasus Books

The Sleep of the Righteous by Wolfgang Hilbig, translated by Isabel Fargo Cole, published by Two Lines Press

Tran 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila, translated by Roland Glasser, published by Deep Vellum Publishing



Because You Asked: A Book of Answers on the Art & Craft of the Writing Life edited by Katrina Roberts, published by Lord Horse Press

Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe by Lori Jakiela, published by Atticus Books

My Chinese-America by Allen Gee, published by Santa Fe Writers Project

Shader by Daniel Nester, published by 99: The Press

Solemn Pleasure by Melissa Pritchard, published by Bellevue Literary Press

Suite Vénitienne by Sophie Calle, published by Siglio Press

The Ghosts Who Travel with Me by Allison Green, published by Ooligan Press

Travels in Vermeer: A Memoir by Michael White, published by Persea Books

Wide Open: My Adventures in Polyamory, Open Marriage and Loving On My Own Terms by Gracie X, published by New Harbinger



Bastards of the Reagan Era by Reginald Dwayne Betts, published by Four Way Books

Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón, published by Milkweed Editions

Illocality by Joseph Massey, published by Wave Books

Incorrect Merciful Impulses by Camille Rankine, published by Copper Canyon Press

Let’s Let That Are Not Yet: Inferno by Ed Pavlic, published by Fence Books

Life in a Box Is a Pretty Box by Dawn Lundy Martin, published by Nightboat Books

S O S: Poems 1961-2013 by Amiri Baraka, edited by Paul Vangelisti, published by Grove Press

Supplication: Selected Poems by John Weiners, edited by Robert Dewhurst, Joshua Beckman, and CAConrad, published by Wave Books

The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, a Wedding in St. Roch, the Big Box Store, the Warp in the Mirror, Spring Midnights, Fire & All by C. D. Wright, published by Copper Canyon Press

What about This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford by Frank Stanford, edited by Michael Wiegers, published by Copper Canyon Press



Gulf Coast 

The Kenyon Review

MAKE Literary Magazine

Ninth Letter

One Story


The Common

The Gettysburg Review

Virginia Quarterly Review

2016 Judges

FICTION: Brad Johnson, Yin Li, Dawn Raffel

CREATIVE NONFICTION: Claire Kirch, Kelly McMasters, Meredith Walters

POETRY: Kazim Ali, Ifeanyi Menkiti, Tim Nolan, Stephanie Strickland, Jonathon Welch

MAGAZINES: Don Lee, Ander Monson, David Martinez, Molly Rose Quinn, Clarence Reynolds


2015 Firecracker Award Winners

FICTION: Song of the Shank by Jeffrey Renard Allen, published by Graywolf Press

CREATIVE NONFICTION: Self-Portrait in Green by Marie NDiaye, published by Two Lines Press

GRAPHIC NOVEL: Beauty by Hubert & Kerascoët, published by NBM Publishing

POETRY: Sonnets: Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition by Bernadette Mayer, published by Tender Buttons Press

YOUNG ADULT: Some Boys by Patty Blount, published Sourcebooks



2015 Firecracker Award Finalists


Hum by Michelle Richmond, published by FC2, an imprint of University of Alabama Press

List by Matthew Roberson, published by FC2, an imprint of University of Alabama Press

Search for Heinrich Schlögel by Martha Bailie, published by Tin House Books

Sister Golden Hair by Darcey Steinke, published by Tin House Books

Songs for the Deaf by John Henry Fleming, published by Burrow Press

Street of Thieves by Mathias Énard, published by Open Letter Books

The Family Cannon by Halina Duraj, published by Augury Books

The Good Life Elsewhere by Vladimir Lorchenkov, published by New Vessel Press

Us Conductors by Sean Michaels, published by Tin House Books



Loitering by Charles D’ambrosia, published by Tin House Books

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison, published by Graywolf Press

The Other Side by Lacy M. Johnson, published by Tin House Books

Surrendering Oz by Bonnie Friedman, published by Etruscan Press



All Stars by Jesse Lonergan, published by NBM Publishing

Family Ties by Eric Hobbs and Noel Tuazon, published by Rattapallax

Whitman Illuminated by Allen Crawford, published by Tin House Books



Beast Feast by Cody-Rose Clevidence, published by Ahsahta Press

Blue Hanuman by Joan Larkin, published by Hanging Loose Press

Exclosures by Emily Abendroth, published by Ahsahta Press

Tree Line by Judy Halebsky, published by New Issues Poetry & Prose



A Boy Like Me by Jeannie Wood, published by 215 Ink

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs, published by Quirk Books

My So-Called Ruined Life by Melanie Bishop, published by Torrey House Press

Rebels by Accident by Patricia Dunn, published by Sourcebooks



6 x 6

A Public Space

Creative Nonfiction




2015 Judges

FICTION: Katie Freeman, Mitchell Kaplan, Hannah Tinti

CREATIVE NONFICTION: Michele Filgate, Kiese Layton, Terese Svoboda

GRAPHIC NOVEL: Eric Lorberer, Christine Monroe, Calvin Reid

POETRY: John Evans, Kimiko Hahn, Stacy Szymaszek

YOUNG ADULT: Katie Coyle, Sarah LaPolla, Jordan Nielson

MAGAZINES: Jane Freedman, Karen Gisonny, Ina Morris, Saeed Jones