2017 International Literary Award Winners

Salem College Center for Women Writers announces the results of the 2017 International Literary Awards.

Penelope Niven Prize in Creative Nonfiction
Lisa Locascio for “Protest”
Lisa Locascio

Lisa Locascio is co-publisher of Joyland Magazine and editor of its California editions, as well as editor of the anthology Golden State 2017: Best New Writing from California (Outpost19) and of the ekphrastic collaboration magazine 7x7.LA. Her work has appeared in The Believer, Bookforum, Santa Monica Review, n+1,Tin House online, and many other magazines. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Wesleyan University. In 2018, Grove Atlantic will publish her debut novel, Jutland Gothic.

Honorable Mention
Michele Gutierrez for “Stirred”
Michele Gutierrez

Michele Gutierrez is a Filipina American writer born and raised in Long Beach, CA. A graduate of UCLA, she is a VONA/Voices of Our Nations alum and a former Armed With a Camera fellow with Visual Communications. She has received scholarships from PEN USA, Philippine American Writers and Artists, the Sun Magazine and other organizations for her work. Her writing can be found in Field of Mirrors: An Anthology of Philippine American Writers, Maganda Magazine, Our Own Voices, and other venues. She will be attending the University of Iowa’s MFA program in creative nonfiction in the fall of 2017.

From the Judge
Wendy C. Ortiz
First Prize


“From the first paragraphs, “Protest” shapeshifts and bends language lyrically into a kaleidoscope of stories that hinge on the nature of protest, political and personal. The narrator weaves threads purposefully but in a manner that suggests effortlessness. “I am used to buffeting and spectacle, skilled in staging and weighty depth,” she writes. Love, happiness, the recent national election, human behavior, sexual violence: each page presents the liquid beauty of a mind interrogating all of this and more.”

Honorable Mention


“The child's perspective of a mother's deepening gesture toward religion after divorce, “Stirred” engages with its straightforward narrative that unveils the intrigue, sadness, and struggle of an intelligent and perceptive child in confusing circumstances. “...[T]o fall or to be consumed or to be touched by grace,” she considers. The author contemplates family, faith, and belief in imagistic scenes gilded with distinct detail and uncomplicated, elegant storytelling.”


"Mānoa Arcadia," Katharine Beutner

"I Won't Go into Details," Emma Bolden

“Shattering Silence,” Yvonne Conza

"Crossing,” Natalie D-Napoleon

“World Peace 101,” Laura Distelheim

“Mother/Other,” Liberty Ferda

“Stirred,” Michele Gutierrez

“Cheers” Emma Faesi Hudelson

“Protest,” Lisa Locascio

“Elegy for Western Time,” Lisa Locascio

“Vigilance,” Stacy Murison

“Papyrophobia,” Mickey Revenaugh

“Keep Moving,” Anne Riesenberg

“Break ,” Katherine Schaefer

"Evidence of Burning,” Erin Slaughter

“Mississippi,” Deirdre Sugiuchi

“Blighted,” Elsa Valmidiano

“My Courtesy Aunt,” Terry Watada

“Black Friday,” Mary Wysong-Haeri

“Stressing the Roots,” Emily Withnall

Reynolds Price Prize in Fiction
Jaquira Díaz for “Carraízo”
Jaquira Díaz

Jaquira Díaz is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, an NEA fellowship to the Hambidge Center for the Arts, and fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, The MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Ragdale Foundation. Her work appears or is forthcoming in The Best American Essays 2016, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Kenyon Review, The Sun, Brevity, and The Los Angeles Review of Books, among other publications. She teaches at Kenyon College, where she is the 2016-18 Kenyon Review Fellow in prose.

Honorable Mention
Rachel Furey for “The Whole World”
Rachel Furey

Rachel Furey is an Assistant Professor at Southern Connecticut State University. She earned her PhD from Texas Tech University and her MFA from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Her work has appeared in One Teen Story, Crab Orchard Review, Sycamore Review, Cicada, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Chautauqua, and elsewhere.

From the Judge
Meera Nair
First Prize


"Accomplished in its control and pacing, this rich story evokes a world and events rarely seen in American fiction. The quiet, self-assured style and restrained narration belies the great emotion that pulses just under the surface. Toya is a compelling protagonist. Fascinating and maddening at the same time, her painful choices make sense in a world that leaves people like her with little. The fantastical occurrences in the story could have felt egregious in another writer's hands, but here they seem organic and natural, and speak effectively to Toya's guilt and intimation of loss. I admired how the language was alive with detail: the swarm of butterflies hovering above the coca plants, the leaves that turn into flying projectiles, the light filtering through the canopy of the flamboyanes, and the “mouth like a fist,” on Toya's boy. This story gripped me from its startling opening to the devastating ending, and will stay with me a long while."

Honorable Mention

“The Whole World”

“I loved the humorous voice of the middle-schooler in this story; it is the raft that helps her (and us) navigate the dark waters of death, loss, and social embarrassment that threaten to overwhelm her. I was also instantly attached to all the characters, portrayed here with skill and affection, right down to Glory, the pet guinea pig stowed in the freezer with “the plastic pressed up against each of her features, including one opened eye.” This is a story about looking at the world without a filter, about wholly embracing its pain and beauty. As such, it's not afraid to grapple with the emotional messiness that can exist between two people, whether mother and daughter, or an awkward tween and her girl-crush. What makes it a great read is that it succeeds in its aims with a beguiling intimacy, warmth, and serious storytelling chops.”


“Mother's Day,” Terry Cobb

“The Rickies,” Sarah Curry

“Carraízo,” Jaquira Díaz

“Take Me Home,” Monic Ductan

“The Whole World,” Rachel Furey

“Worthless,” Racquel Goodison

“Mutts,” Jen Knox

“A Cat Called Grievous,” R. L. Maizes

“No Shortage of Birds,” R. L. Maizes

“His Garden,” Toni Martin

The Universe can be an Asshole,” Elle Napolitano

“Watching the Gators with Mr. Matthew Perry,” Loreen Niewenhuis

“Shopping Cart Lessons,” Loreen Niewenhuis

“Supermán,” Achy Obejas

“Angel Falls,” Shelby Riley

“All the Little Things,” Coral Rogers

“Halfway House,” Emma Sloley

“The Taste of Names and Other Things,” Masha Sukovic

“Bash Chelik,” Masha Sukovic

“Bumper Crop,” Cady Vishniac

Rita Dove Prize in Poetry
Danielle Zaccagnino for “Lullaby for the Nervous”
Danielle Zaccagnino

Danielle Zaccagnino has an MFA from Texas State University. She was the winner of the Sonora Review's 2016 Essay Prize, and her writing also appears in journals such as Day One, Word Riot, The Pinch, and Puerto del Sol. Danielle is from Queens, New York.

Twitter: @yell_yesful.


Honorable Mention
Afua Ansong for “Autobiography”
Afua Ansong

Afua Ansong is a Ghanaian American artist who writes poetry and teaches contemporary and traditional West African dance. Afua is currently working on several projects about the migration of humans and birds. Her work can be seen or is forthcoming in The Seventh Wave, Maine Review, Oxford Poetry & other magazines.

From the Judge
Mahogany L. Browne
First Prize

“Lullaby for the Nervous”

“While reading this lullaby, I was compelled to return to the rhythm: each section spilled like a spell of anxiety and a promise. The sonic grounding & moments of nature tethered to my tongue as I repeat “I've never lived in a country/ where I didn't speak the language”. A sharp and perfect reflection. This poem is both myth and realism, loneliness and longing, protest & persistence; as it's closing line echoes from the skin of the page: “I'll still be here...I'll still be fine”. A sharp and most necessary declaration.”

Honorable Mention


“This poem announces a late arrival with a steady steady heartbeat. To remember your introduction to the universe and the sustenance of your mother, to (re)learn the “scent of milk” and its relation to desire and necessity. To register the growth of a world outside the womb, and etch onto the page what was left behind, is a treasured gift, this poetic remembrance of a woman's continuing.”


"Autobiography," Afua Ansong

"Complicity/Land of Cotton," Rebecca Black

"The Block, 1937, The Bronx," Rosa Castellano

"Step Four," Sage Curtis

"On Realizing Biblical Names are Juxtaposition," Angel C. Dye

"Not Even Light Can Escape," teri elam

"Will Scarlet Mine," Whittney Jones

"Viability Study" Paige Quiñones

"Things to Do in the Belly of a Whale," Paige Quiñones

"Look," Simone Savannah

"Because a woman," Katherine Seluja

"The Trouble With Dying," Rachel Sucher

"Advice from the Boa," Lynn Sweeting

"Painting the Rhinoceros," Kelly Terwilliger

"Autopsy," Autumn Toennis

"Estuary," Autumn Toennis

"I took a shower and the water was," Qiana Towns

"Proverbs," Hope Wabuke

"When Nouns Leave Us," Morgan Grayce Willow

"Lullaby for the Nervous," Danielle Zaccagnino