This year, contest judge Sonia Sanchez, winner of the Robert Frost Medal and the Gish Prize, selected two first-place winners for our contest: Adebe DeRango-Adem for her poem “Vox Genus / Provectus” and Simone Person for their poem “In Praise of the Sharp Blade.”

Adebe DeRango-Adem is a writer and former attendee of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics (Naropa University), where she mentored with poets Anne Waldman and Amiri Baraka. She is the author of three full-length poetry books to date: Ex Nihilo (Frontenac House, 2010), a finalist for the Dylan Thomas Prize; Terra Incognita (Inanna Publications, 2015), nominated for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award; and The Unmooring (Mansfield Press, 2018). She served as the 2019–20 Barbara Smith Writer-in-Residence with Twelve Literary Arts in Cleveland.

Simone Person is a Black queer femme, two-time Pink Door Writing Retreat fellow, and editor for just femme & dandy. Their debut prose chapbook, Dislocate, won the Honeysuckle Press 2017 Chapbook Contest, and their debut poetry chapbook, Smoke Girl, won the Diode Editions 2018 Chapbook Contest. Smoke Girl also won the Chapbook category of the 2020 Eric Hoffer Book Award, in addition to being named a finalist selection for their Grand Prize. They were long-listed for the 2021 Granum Prize, long-listed for Frontier Poetry’s 2021 Frontier Open, and named a runner-up for Underblong’s 2021 Blongprize. They grew up in Toledo, Ohio, and small Michigan towns.

In addition, Sanchez selected two second-place winners for our contest: Willie Lee Kinard III for his poem “The Choir, or Chatteracks” and Lolita Stewart-White for her poem “Fugitivity.”

Our congratulations to all four poets!

As well, there were seventeen semifinalists:

  • Jeff William Acosta
  • Isha Camara
  • Diana Cao
  • Brian Clifton
  • Hannah Craig
  • Monica Cure
  • Gail DiMaggio
  • Lindsay Illich
  • Oli Isaac
  • Justin Jannise
  • Leah Claire Kaminski
  • Brandi Nicole Martin
  • Anthony Okpunor
  • Porsha Olayiwola
  • Michael Samra
  • Elizabeth Switaj
  • Raisa Tolchinsky

DeRango-Adem’s and Person’s winning poems will appear in our special winter arts issue, Repair. To be among the first to read it, order a copy! For a limited time, use the code “ARTS20” at checkout to receive 20% off and free domestic shipping.