The 2021 Firecracker Award Judges

It is with great excitement that we welcome the following outstanding literary citizens to our panel of judges for the 2021 Firecracker Awards.


Natanya Ann Pulley is the author of With Teeth (New Rivers Press, 2019). She is a Diné writer and her clans are Kinyaa’áani (Towering House People) and Táchii’nii (Red Running into Water People). Her work has been published in Waxwing, Monkeybicycle, Entropy, and The Offing, among others. Natanya is the founding editor of Hairstreak Butterfly Review and teaches texts by Native American writers, fiction writing, and experimental forms at Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

Irene Yoon is the Director of the LARB Publishing Workshop at the Los Angeles Review of Books. After a year in Russia on a Fulbright fellowship, she earned her doctorate in English from the University of California, Berkeley. At UC Berkeley, Yoon also managed Art of Writing, a Mellon-funded interdisciplinary writing program. Her writing has appeared in journals such as Twentieth Century Literature, Transition Magazine, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Robert Yune is the author of Impossible Children (Sarabande Books, 2019), winner of the 2017 Mary McCarthy Prize, and Eighty Days of Sunlight (Prospecta Press, 2015), which was nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award. His fiction has been published in Green Mountains Review, The Kenyon Review, and Pleiades, among others. Currently, he teaches at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Creative Nonfiction

E. J. Koh is the author of The Magical Language of Others (Tin House Books, 2020) and A Lesser Love (Louisiana State University Press, 2017), winner of the Pleiades Editors Prize for Poetry. Her poems, translations, and stories have appeared in Boston Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, PEN America, Slate, and World Literature Today. Koh earned her MFA at Columbia University in New York City in creative writing and literary translation. She is completing her PhD at the University of Washington in English language and literature studying Korean American literature, history, and intergenerational trauma.

Paul Lisicky is the author of six books, including Later: My Life at the Edge of the World (Graywolf Press, 2020), The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship (Graywolf Press, 2016), and Unbuilt Projects (Four Way Books, 2012). His work has appeared in The Atlantic, Conjunctions, The Cut, Fence, The New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere. A recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, he teaches in the MFA Program at Rutgers University-Camden. He lives in Brooklyn.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of the essay collection World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, & Other Astonishments (Milkweed Editions, 2020), and four poetry collections: Oceanic (Copper Canyon Press, 2018) and Lucky Fish (2011), At the Drive-in Volcano (2007), and Miracle Fruit (2003), published by Tupelo Press. Her writing appears twice in the Best American Poetry Series, The New York Times Magazine, ESPN, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, and Tin House. She is professor of English and creative writing in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.


Sarah Gambito is the author of the poetry collections Loves You (Persea Books, 2019), Delivered (Persea Books, 2009) and Matadora (Alice James Books, 2004). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Iowa Review, POETRY, Harvard Review, American Poetry Review, The New Republic, and other journals. She is Associate Professor of English/Director of Creative Writing at Fordham University and co-founder of Kundiman, a nonprofit organization serving writers and readers of Asian American literature.

Raquel Salas Rivera is a Puerto Rican poet, translator, and editor. He is the author of five full-length poetry books. His third book, lo terciario/ the tertiary (Timeless, Infinite Light, 2018), won the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry and was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award. His sixth book is an imaginative leap into Puerto Rico’s decolonial future and is forthcoming from Beacon Press in 2022. He holds a PhD in comparative literature and literary theory from the University of Pennsylvania and currently writes and teaches in Puerto Rico.

Malcolm Tariq is the author of Heed the Hollow (Graywolf Press, 2019), winner of the 2018 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and a nominee for the 2020 Georgia Author of the Year Award, and Extended Play (Gertrude Press, 2017). He was a 2016-2017 playwriting apprentice at Horizon Theatre Company and is currently a 2020-2021 playwright resident with the Liberation Theatre Company. A graduate of Emory University, he holds a PhD in English from the University of Michigan. Tariq is the Programs and Communications Manager at Cave Canem, a home for Black poetry, in Brooklyn, New York.


Charles Flowers is the founder and editor of BLOOM Literary Journal, a journal for LGBT poetry, prose, and art, which Edmund White called “the most exciting new queer literary publication to emerge in years.” Flowers has served in a leadership capacity at the Academy of American Poets, Lambda Literary Foundation, and Arts for LA, the regional arts advocacy organization. He served as the Poet Laureate for the City of West Hollywood (October 2018 – October 2020). His poems have appeared in Puerto Del Sol, Barrow Street, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, and Assaracus.

Keetje Kuipers is the Editor of Poetry Northwest. She is also the author of three books of poetry, all from BOA Editions: All Its Charms (2019), The Keys to the Jail (2014), and Beautiful in the Mouth (2010). Her work has appeared widely, including in The New York Times Magazine, and has been published in both The Pushcart Prize and Best American Poetry anthologies, read on NPR, and honored with a Stegner fellowship, Bread Loaf fellowship, and the Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency. Kuipers is Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Montana.

Marcus Wicker is Poetry Editor of Southern Indiana Review. Wicker is also author of Silencer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) and Maybe the Saddest Thing (Harper Perennial, 2012), a National Poetry Series selection. His awards include a Tennessee Arts Fellowship, Pushcart Prize, Ruth Lilly Fellowship, as well as fellowships from Cave Canem and The Fine Arts Work Center. He is an associate professor of English at the University of Memphis where he teaches in the MFA program.