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  • Jacob M. Hall

inaugural book prize winner announced

After months of work, we are so excited to announce at last our inaugural winner of the Iron Horse Book Prize: Joe Baumann, Sing with Me at the Edge of Paradise, a collection of short stories. As the winner of our prize, Joe will receive $1,000, and his collection will be published by Texas Tech University Press some time this summer. Joe's fiction and essays have appeared in Phantom Drift, Passages North, Emerson Review, Another Chicago Magazine, 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.

We had the privilege of publishing Joe's work in issue 22.4, and our editors were again struck by the narrative voice, the strong sense of place, and the overall oddity of his delightful work throughout the collection. His ability to navigate a family's fall from grace after a tragedy, or characters who make all the wrong choices, while still maintaining a playful yet intimate tone, had us hooked throughout his collection.

About his work, Joe had the following to say: "I began working on the stories in this collection in early 2019 and tinkered with, chipped away at, and drove myself crazy over them for the next two years. I have always been drawn to the way fabulist/surrealist work can peel away the layers of the world to get at the core of its strangeness and beauty, and that is what I sought to do in these stories, using the surreal as a byway, also, for examining the often strange and bewildering experience of being a queer person in modern America, particularly for young adults still sifting through the complexities of self-discovery."

We hope you enjoy Sing with Me at the Edge of Paradise as much as we did. We also want acknowledge other works that stood out to us as we went through so many exceptional manuscripts. We could only publish one book this year, but here are our runners-up and finalists for the inaugural book prize. All the luck in the world to them in placing their collections soon.

First Runner-Up: Chibuike Ogbonnaya - It Is Not You I Mourn

Second Runner-Up: Timothy DeLizza - Lonely Beasts


Caroline E. Tracy - Salt Lakes

Michael Dowdy - Tell Me About Your Bad Guys

Joshua English - Local Beasts

Danilo Thomas - Ore Vein

Emily Greenberg - Alternative Facts and Other Fictions

Jeanne Dickey - Vera and Big Bobby and Other Stories

Bernard Grant - All Hours

Thank you again to all who submitted to the prize. You'll be able to order a copy of Joe's book from Texas Tech University Press later this summer


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