Big News! 2016 Dogwood Literary Prize Winners Announced

The Editors of Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry and Prose are pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Dogwood Literary Prizes and thank our judges, Kate Hopper (Nonfiction), Steven Schwartz (Fiction), and Gail Wronsky (Poetry) for their hard work.  All prize winners, as well as finalists, will be published in Dogwood’s 2016 edition, due out next month.


After a first prize was chosen in each genre, the judges reconvened and chose Anna Leahy’s essay “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This” as this year’s $1000 Grand Prize Winner in the Dogwood Literary Prize. In addition to the prize, Leahy’s essay will be published in Dogwood’s 2016 edition.

Of the essay Judge Kate Hopper said, “In this lovely essay, the author meditates on nostalgia and what it means, both in her life and a larger historical context. I love how, through the author’s questioning, our own understanding of nostalgia expands and becomes more complicated. The emotional impact of this piece accrues paragraph by paragraph, page by page. It has a quiet power that I couldn’t shake for days.”

GRAND PRIZE WINNER ANNA LEAHY’S book Constituents of Matter won the Wick Poetry Prize, and her latest chapbook, Sharp Miracles, is out from Blue Lyra Press. Two nonfiction books, Generation Space and Tumor, will be published in 2017. Her essays and poems appear in The Southern Review, The Rumpus, Crab Orchard Review, The Pinch, and Gravel, and her essay “Half-Skull Days” was a Notable in The Best American Essays 2013. She teaches in the MFA and BFA programs at Chapman University, where she edits the journal TAB and curates the Tabula Poetica reading series. She also co-writes Lofty Ambitions blog.

NONFICTION JUDGE KATE HOPPER is the author of Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers and Ready for Air: A Journey Through Premature Motherhood, winner of a 2014 MIPA Midwest Book Award, and she is co-author of Silent Running, a memoir of one family’s journey with autism and running. Kate holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota and has been the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, two Minnesota State Arts Board Grants, and a Sustainable Arts Grant. Her writing has appeared in a number of journals, including Brevity, The New York Times online and Poets & Writers. She teaches online, in Ashland University’s Low-residency MFA program, and at the Loft Literary Center.


Judge Steven Schwartz chose C.A. Cole’s story “Pirouette” as the winner of this year’s First Prize in Fiction. Cole will receive $250 and publication in Dogwood’s 2016 edition. Of the story Judge Steven Schwartz said, “‘Pirouette’ is a tightly written story with crisp dialogue and exacting details: a restaurant booth is ‘pumpkin colored,’ a hostess’s gait is ‘rocky in heels,’ a baby ‘tips her face toward a woman’s voice.’ At heart, it’s is a story about a classic conflict—a tug of war between parental figures (in this case grandparents) over children’s affections, and, the reader senses, their future welfare. Brightly told, ‘Pirouette’ hits all the right and memorable notes.”

FIRST PRIZE IN FICTION WINNER C.A. COLE lives in Colorado and is currently looking for a job. Her work has appeared in places such as Hobart, Smokelong Quarterly, Blood and Thunder, and is upcoming in Gargoyle.

FICTION JUDGE STEVEN SCHWARTZ is the author two novels and three collections of short stories, including most recently Little Raw Souls, winner of the 2014 Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction and the Foreword Review Book of the Year in Short Fiction. His writing has received the Nelson Algren Award, the Cohen Award, the Sherwood Anderson Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, two O. Henry Prize Story Awards, and the Cleanth Brooks Prize in Nonfiction. Professor Emeritus of English at Colorado State University, he is fiction editor for Colorado Review.


Judge Gail Wronsky chose Esteban Ismael’s poem “the sky-shattering speed of the horizon looming” as the First Prize in Poetry in this year’s Dogwood Literary Prize. Ismael will receive $250 and his poem will appear in Dogwood’s 2016 edition. Of the poem, Judge Gail Wronsky said, “It is a beautiful poem, an elegant poem. Its insights are profound, its observations shatteringly precise, its scope galactic. I just kept coming back to it.”

FIRST PRIZE WINNER IN POETRY ESTEBAN ISMAEL lives in San Diego where he teaches writers’ workshops with the San Diego Community College District. His poems are forthcoming or have recently appeared in The New Guard, The Massachusetts Review, Ruminate Magazine, Codex Journal, H_NGM_N, RHINO, and Crab Orchard Review, among others.

POETRY JUDGE GAIL WRONSKY is the author, coauthor, or translator or ten books of poetry and prose, including Dying for Beauty (Copper Canyon Press), finalist for the Western Arts Federation Poetry Award; Poems for Infidels (Red Hen Press); and So Quick Bright Things (What Books Press). Her translations of Argentinean poet Alicia Partnoy have been published in the books Volando Bajito: Little Low Flying (Red Hen Press) and Fuegos Florales: Flowering Fires (Settlement House). Her poems, essays and book reviews have appeared in literary journals such as Poetry, Boston Review, Antioch Review, The Quarterly, Virginia Quarterly Review, Denver Quarterly, Pool, Volt, and Crazyhorse. She has a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from the University of Utah, and an MFA in creative writing, poetry, from the University of Virginia. She has received an Artists Fellowship from the California Arts Council and has been a Resident Playwright at the Sundance Institute Playwriting Conference. She teaches creative writing and women’s literature at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.

Congratulations to all of our winners and our thanks to our judges for choosing such wonderful work! The Editors would also like to thank the more than 900 entrants that made this contest a joy to read; reading for the 2017 Dogwood Literary Prize will begin July 1.

We look forward to letting you know, soon, when you can read these pieces and all the excellent work we’ve chosen for this year’s Dogwood. Expect an announcement at this website in the next few weeks letting you know when Dogwood will be available.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close