We are thrilled to announce that final judge Rebecca Gayle Howell has selected In the Temple of Shining Mercy by Robin Carstensen as the winner of our 2016 chapbook competition. Congratulations, Robin Carstensen—we can't wait to share this wonderful collection of poems with all of our readers.
Here is what our judge had to say about Robin Carstensen's winning manuscript:
"Where do you find/your reservoir for living?" Robin Carstensen begins her book by asking me, her reader, and I cannot help it: I spend the rest of these pages both haunted by the question and comforted by its answer, an answer given to me before I ever open the book. In the Temple of Shining Mercy is the answer, which is to say, the reservoir is here and now: wherever here and now is. Carstensen writes her own place with such care it does indeed become a mercy, a temple, a grace.
In the Temple of Shining Mercy will be published later this fall as a separate issue (Volume 18.5). Full-color cover art will reflect the collection’s content and emphasize its title, not the name of Iron Horse. The published collection will look like the single-author book that it is. Carstensen will also receive a $1,000 honorarium and 15 author copies.
Robin Carstensen’s poetry can be found in Atlanta Review, BorderSenses, Connotation Press, Southern Humanities Review, and many others. She is the recipient of annual poetry awards from Many Mountains Moving and So to Speak: a Feminist Journal of Language and Art. Her work has received finalist recognition from Baltimore Review and Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built and Natural Environments. Poems are included in the Fall 2016 anthology from Demeter Press: Borderlands and Crossroads: Writing the Motherland. She is co-founder and editor of Switchgrass Review: A Journal of Women's Health, History, and Transformation. She coordinates the creative writing program at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, where she also teaches and serves as editor and faculty advisor for the Windward Review, a literary journal celebrating the spirit of South Texas and the Coastal Bend.
Congratulations, as well, to Clare Paniccia, whose manuscript Badlands was selected by Rebecca Gayle Howell as this year's runner-up.
And congratulations to all our finalists. We received many excellent, thoughtfully crafted chapbook manuscripts this year. It was difficult to choose ten finalists to send on to our judge and we know that it was very difficult for Rebecca Gayle Howell to make her final decision. Thank you for your patience as we made our way through this process. We applaud our finalists for making it this far in the competition and we are deeply grateful to everyone who sent us their work.
Temporary Empathy by Kathleen Balma
In America by Diana Goetsch
Birding in Wolfville by Stevie Howell
Night Shift at the Circle K by Jacob Little
Pentimento by Alysse McCanna
Glass Uterus by Jane Miller
Power Plays by Jessica Morey-Collins
Recoil Bruises by Rodney Wilhite
We hope to see the same high caliber of work next year, for our 2017 chapbook competition in prose (fiction or nonfiction). In the meantime, keep an eye out for In the Temple of Shining Mercy!