• Maeve Kirk

2022 Book Prize Finalists

We’re thrilled to announce our list of finalists for the 2022 IHLR First Book Prize! The IHLR First Book Prize is awarded annually to a first book of collected prose. The author of the winning entry will receive $1000, and their collection will be published in the summer of 2023 by Texas Tech University Press. This contest is sponsored by the Texas Tech University Press and Iron Horse Literary Review.


The finalists for the 2022 IHLR First Book Prize include:

  • Rachel Hanson, The End of Tennessee -- a memoir (nonfiction)

  • Michael Mattes, An Instinct for Movement --a collection of linked short stories (fiction)

  • A Poythress, a season and time -- a short story collection featuring micro fiction, flash pieces, and short stories (fiction)

  • Bernard Grant, All Hours -- a novel in stories (fiction)

  • Ellen Rhudy, Escape Velocity -- a short story collection (fiction)

  • Gage Saylor, Where Were You When It Happened? -- a short story collection (fiction)

  • Jennifer Bullis, Intricate Birds: On Solastalgia, Foot Travel, and Forgetting to Pray -- a collection of linked essays (nonfiction)

  • Jefferey Spivey, The Birthright of Sons -- a short story collection (fiction)

  • Lauren Rhoades, Split the Baby -- a collection of essays (nonfiction)

  • Kimm Stammen, In a Country Whose Language I Have Never Mastered —a short story collection (fiction)

This year we had the pleasure of reading through an especially strong group of manuscripts, and we would like to issue a heartfelt congratulations to our semifinalist contenders:

  • Allison Field Bell, Bodies of Other Women

  • Timothy DeLizza, Lonely Beasts

  • Susan Finch, Dear Second Husband

  • Matthew Goldberg, Teshuvah

  • Patrick Thomas Henry, Practice for Becoming a Ghost: Stories

  • Lana Spendl, Kaput


The winner of the 2022 IHLR First Book Prize will be announced by the first week of January, 2023.


2021 Winner

We are also looking forwa– a —a short story collection (fiction) Sing With Me at the Edge of Paradise, the winner of last year's inaugural Iron Horse Book Prize. Baumann's collection of stories will be available from Texas Tech University Press in November

The sixteen stories in this collection surround queer men of various ages—teenagers, young adults, men in middle age—trying to temper their expectations of the world with their lived experience. Using the lens of the bizarre and fantastic, these stories explore discontent, discomfort, and discovery. In “Melt With You,” a twenty-something learns that his boyfriend can slip into walls, a trick that becomes a sticking point during tumultuous, challenging moments in their relationship; the main character in “Shearing” is a barber who can read the minds of his clients but must sacrifice his own bits of memory to do so; “There Won’t Be Questions” features a young man who can summon lost animals to a shoebox, but suffers for it, both via physical illness and the crumbling of his relationship with his closest friend. In the title story, the Garden of Eden starts to appear in various places around the world, and the narrator, looking down at the Trees of Life and Knowledge, must make an impossible decision regarding the most important relationship he’s ever had. Joe Baumann’s fiction and essays have appeared in Phantom Drift, Passages North, Emerson Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Iron Horse Literary Review, Electric Literature, Electric Spec, On Spec, Barrelhouse, Zone 3, and many others. He is the author of Ivory Children, published in 2013 by Red Bird Chapbooks. He possesses a PhD in English from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and was a 2019 Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction. His debut novel I Know You’re Out There Somewhere is forthcoming from Deep Hearts YA in late 2022, and his second short story collection, The Plagues—a retelling of the plagues of Egypt in modern-day settings—will be published by Cornerstone Press in early 2023.