2016 Prime Number Magazine Awards for Poetry
Judged by Kelly Cherry

WINNER (to be published in Issue 101 on October 1)
“Liminal States” by Faith Shearin of Gerrardstown, West Virginia

Judge’s Note: This poem is both light and dark, clear and mysterious, familiar and startling. A liminal state is a state of being in-between. What has gone is what is gone. What is before us is the uncertain new. There is something of the quality of seasickness in a liminal state. As in the poem, "it is dawn or dusk" and the poet speaks "of the edges / between water and land, the place where / the forest gives way to a meadow. . . ." To be between is to be haunted and anxious, unknowing but about to know, fearful and waiting. The poet has succeeded in conveying this condition without analyzing it; rather, he or she has saturated the poem with the feeling of the feeling, so that the reader actually experiences the sensation. The reader does not merely think about the feeling. The poem's diction is adequate but appropriately quiet, the better to enter the poem and stay within it for the duration. The pacing is not slow—we go from one liminal state to another—but it, too, is quiet. The reader holds his/her breath. The poem's final line underscores its function: "how it would feel." 

RUNNER UP (to be published in Issue 101, on October 1)
“Among the Things You Deserve” by Emily Ransdell of Camas, Washington

Judge’s Note: Here we have a poem that is cheerful, generous, funny, sweet, loving. In short, it is irresistible. I am reminded of "This Is Just to Say," the William Carlos Williams poem in which he admits that he has "eaten / the plums / that were in / the icebox. . ." The list of things the "you" deserves is both short and commodious. It amuses and reminds, while it also delineates the woman who is "you" and the good and noticing friend who wants her to have everything she deserves. The precision of the list ensures our attention and respect for the friend. The final line tells us that the woman deserves "[a]n apology from god," and upon reading that, we grasp the depth of the poem, the friend's ferocity, and the seriousness of the situation.

HONORABLE MENTION (to be published in Issue 101 on October 1)
“On the North Saskatchewan River” by Alycia Pirmohamed of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

“10 Years Later, the Cowardly Lion Surveys His Territory,” by Emily Rose Cole of Carbondale, Illinois

Judge’s Note: "10 Years Later, the Cowardly Lion Surveys His Territory," is a poem that thoroughly and in interesting diction deconstructs the L. Frank Baum book The Wizard of Oz, and "On the North Saskatchewan River," in which the speaker elides or erases himself or herself from the page. Both poems are striking in their own ways and I was reluctant to choose between them.

“Buildup of Salt” by Sam Gilpin of Portland, Oregon  

“Dwarf Planet” by Jessica Towns of Seattle, Washington

“Noise Pattern on a Last Day” by Kathleen Jones of Wilmington, North Carolina

“Nomenomancy” by Mark Wagenaar of Denton, Texas

“Pulverized Apology” by Jed Myers of Seattle, Washington

“Reveille” by M. C. Neuda of Bronx, New York 

2016 Prime Number Magazine Awards for Short Fiction
Judged by Taylor Brown

WINNER (to be published in Issue 101 on October 1)
“The King of Xandria” by Jocelyn Johnson of Charlottesville, Virginia

Judge’s note: “There are some damn fine stories here, but I keep coming back to ‘The King of Xandria.’ It's beautifully written, propelled by such a visceral sense of desperation, of having no place to be, and some of the images have really stuck with me: ‘the hummingbird in Mr. Attah's throat,’ ‘the lost brood of tundra swans.’ And I love the title and the use of ‘Xandria.’ It's my pick for winner!”

“Benedictions” by Rolf Yngve of Coronado, California 

“Burned” by Rebecca Timson of Seattle, Washington 

“Choices” by Steven Ostrowski of Niantic, Connecticut

“Clean Burn” by Jane Shlensky of Bahama, North Carolina 

“Confirmation” by Kathleen Ford of Charlottesville, Virginia

“Fall Line” by Alexander Weinstein of Ann Arbor, Michigan 

“The Proxy” by Rose Hamilton-Gottlieb of Ames, Iowa

“Reservations” by Cody Luff of Cornelius, Oregon

“Xuefei and his Heart” by Rebecca Wurtz of St. Paul, Minnesota

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PO Box 30314,
Winston-Salem NC 27130
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Meet Our Judges
POETRY: Kelly Cherry
Kelly Cherry’s new book of poems, The Life and Death of Poetry, was published by LSU Press in 2013 and her new poetry chapbook, Vectors, by Parallel Press in December 2012. She was the first recipient of the Hanes Poetry Prize given by the Fellowship of Southern Writers for a body of work. Other awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bradley Major Achievement (Lifetime) Award, a USIS Speaker Award (The Philippines), a Distinguished Alumnus Award, three Wisconsin Arts Board fellowships, two WAB New Work awards, the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook Award for Distinguished Book of Stories in 1999 (2000), and selection as a Wisconsin Notable Author. In 2010, she was a Director’s Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. In 2012, she received both the Taramuto Prize for a story and the Carole Weinstein Prize for Poetry, and in 2013 the L.E. Phillabaum Award for Poetry. Former Poet Laureate of Virginia, she is Eudora Welty Professor Emerita of English and Evjue-Bascom Professor Emerita in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She and her husband live in Virginia. Further details appear on her Wikipedia page.
Taylor Brown's novel, Fallen Land, was signed to St. Martin's Press and is due out January 12, 2016. His short fiction collection, In the Season of Blood & Gold, was published by Press 53 in May 2014. His short fiction has appeared in The New Guard, The Baltimore Review, CutBank, The Coachella Review, storySouth, CrimeSpree Magazine, the 2010 Press 53 Open Awards Anthology, and many others. He received the Montana Prize in Fiction for his story “Rider,” and he was a finalist for the 2012 Machigonne Fiction Prize. His work has been recognized as one of the “Other Distinguished Mystery Stories” in Best American Mystery Stories, and his story “Kingdom Come” won second prize in the 2010 Press 53 Open Awards for Short Story. He lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, and his website is www.taylorbrownfiction.com.

Winners and Finalists for the 2016 Prime Number Magazine Awards
Our winners in each category will be published in Issue 101 on October 1, 2016. At that time our winners will each receive their prize of $1,000, plus a certificate. Certificates will also be mailed to our finalists.

We thank everyone who entered our competition and we hope to read your work again next year.

Jocelyn Johnson of Charlottesville, VA, was named winner of the 2016 Prime Number Magazine Award for Short Fiction by Taylor Brown for her story "The King of Xandria." 


Faith Shearin of Gerrardstown, WV, was named winner of the 2016 Prime Number Magazine Award for Poetry by Kelly Cherry for her poem "Liminal States."