2017 SFPA Speculative Poetry Contest Winners

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association announced the results of the 2017 SFPA Speculative Poetry Contest on September 28. The contest raises awareness about speculative poetry and the SFPA, internationally, and rewards writers of extraordinary speculative poems. Entries are taken in three categories:

  • Dwarf (poems 1-10 lines [prose poems 0-100 words])
  • Short (11-49 lines [prose poems 101-499 words])
  • Long (50 lines and more [prose poems 500+ words])

Speculative poets from around the world sent Contest Chair Mary McMyne nearly 350 entries (75 dwarf-length, 192 short, and 79 long poems). From those entries, Judge Nikia Chaney selected first- through third-place winning poems in each length category.

DWARF CATEGORY

  • 1st place: “flight” by Kanika Agrawal
  • 2nd place:  “Archivore” by Adam Veal
  • 3rd place:  “Lace at the Throat” by Holly Walrath
  • Honorable Mention: “Hate Escapes” by Alicia Payne

SHORT CATEGORY

  • 1st place: “On First Looking Into the Sculpture of the Song” by Jake Sheff
  • 2nd place: “Rescue Mission” by Patricia Gomes
  • 3rd place: “Schroedinger’s Lover” by B. Lynch Black
  • Honorable Mention: “Persephone” by Emma Gibbon

LONG CATEGORY

  • 1st place: “The Fragmented Poet Files of a Police Report” by Stewart C. Baker
  • 2nd place: “Auto-Biography of a Trans-dimensional Extraterrestrial” by Gary Lee Nihsen
  • 3rd place: “Your Doppleganger’s Afterlife Dreams” by J.J. Steinfeld
  • Honorable Mention: “witches” by Holly Walrath

All placing poems will be published the SFPA website and on the Poetry Planet StarShipSofa podcast. The poets will receive $100, $50, and $25 cash prizes for first, second, and third place respectively.

The 2017 winners include a city poet laureate, natives of three continents, and residents of North America and Europe.

  • Dwarf Category first-place winner, Kanika Agrawal, is a doctoral student in English, a temporary alien of Indian origin, and a book hoarder. She lives with her toy fox terrier, Django, in Denver, Colorado.
  • First-place Short Category winner, Jake Sheff, is a major and pediatrician in the US Air Force. He currently resides in the Mojave Desert with his wife, daughter and four pets. His poetry chapbook is Looting Versailles (Alabaster Leaves Publishing).
  • The first-place Long Category winner, Stewart C Baker, is an academic librarian and author of speculative fiction and poetry.  He was born in England and currently lives in Oregon with his family­­—although if anyone asks, he’ll usually say he’s from the Internet.

Bios for the runners up can be found at the SPECPO blog.

Nikia Chaney, this year’s judge, is the current Inlandia Literary Laureate in San Bernadino, California. The author of two chapbooks, Sis Fuss (Orange Monkey Publishing, 2012) and ladies, please (Dancing Girl Press, 2012), Her manuscript bite down, hum was the winner of the Marsh Hawk Robert Creeley Award in 2015. She has won grants and fellowships from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for Women, Poets & Writers, Squaw Valley and Cave Canem.

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