We’re excited to announce the winners of the 2019 Wabash Prizes in Poetry and Fiction, as selected by our judges. The winning pieces and runners up will appear in our forthcoming issue, 31.2, which will be available in the spring.
Wabash Prize in Poetry, selected by Jos Charles:
Winner: “Prayer to the charcoal dusk” by Felicia Zamora
“Prayer to the charcoal dusk” sketches more than the movement of a moon, more than a you. Before the supposed logic of law there is—I felt lead to, through the poem—the passage, a kind of lyric imagination, violent, which carves up passages, the law invented after only to justify it. And how something might, like the moon, triangulate. How two people—separated by such cruel, imagined distances—might co-occur with respect to this other thing, looking up to the moon. How surveillance originates before any glance. How a brain, carved too, is set aflame.
Runner-up: “From Et in Arcadia ego & am Girlish” by Bradley Trumpfheller
“From Et in Arcadia ego & am Girlish” moves from a dead language to would have had across a stanza break. Yes, it has sonic lovelinesses: yarrow, unfucking, licking glass from a floor. But it has the starkest agility—this capacity to move from the impossible or what is foreclosed to what is possible, from a boy to a day, from across to crossdresser. This poem knows its capacities even as it names its incapacities. It begs and thirsts and sobs. It addresses, shows u the you u might, had you been, have been.
Wabash Prize in Fiction, as selected by JY Yang:
Winner: “Letter in A Mokuk” by Mary Elizabeth Aubé
A heartfelt tale told in epistolary format. In the twilight of her life, Lisette, an Anishanaabe woman, writes a letter to her white French father who left the family when she was a little girl. The complex politics and generational devastation of settler colonialism are distilled into a quiet, deeply personal story.
Runner-up: “A Place They’d Never Been” by Joe Garrett
“A Place They’d Never Been” follows the story of Sarah, whose life is upended when a figure from her childhood shows up in her settled life. The lush prose and attention to mundane detail belie a core of darkness as Sarah struggles to escape the trauma and violence in her past.