2nd Annual Poetry Contest Winner

Sweet Lit is proud to announce this year’s poetry contest winner:

Sara Quinn Rivara, “When I Say Love I Mean El Greco’s The Assumption of the Virgin”

Runners Up were:
Emily Rose Cole, “MS Nocturne with Fuse, Crosshairs, and Irreparable Fissure”
Sara Quinn Rivara, “Instead”
Sara Quinn Rivara, “Love Poem, SE Portland”

Poetry editors at Sweet Lit narrowed down the submissions to 15 finalist poems, which the judge received stripped of identifying information. This year’s contest was judged by Katherine (Katie) Riegel, co-founder and editor of Sweet Lit. She is the author of Love Songs from the End of the World (forthcoming October 2019 from Main Street Rag Publishing), the chapbook Letters to Colin Firth, and two more books of poetry. Her work has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Offing, Orion, Poets.org, Tin House, and elsewhere.

The other finalists were:
Julia C. Alter, “Ode to My Kidney Bean (8 Weeks)”
Deborah Bacharach, “Shake and Tremor”
Brood, “Hidden Feathers”
Emily Rose Cole, “Dry Spell”
B.R. Dionysius, “Death is an Iron Lung”
Gregory Emilio, “My Mother and My Father in the Kitchen”
Mariana Goycoechea, “Eternal Return”
Dayna Patterson, “Our Lady of Lengthening Days”
Amie Whittemore, “Ode to Everything, Saunders Trail Attempt”
Amie Whittemore, “Ode to the Half-Male, Half-Female Cardinal”
John Sibley Williams, “Sycamores”

The winning poem will get $500 and publication in Sweet Lit.  Some of the finalists will be published in the September 2019 and January 2020 issues.

Congratulations to our winner and finalists! Many thanks to all who entered their fine work. Be on the lookout summer 2020 for next year’s contest.

Sweet Connections: Carmella Guiol

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.

Name: Carmella Guiol
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: Fanmail – Sarah Einstein
Issue: 9.2

Guiol Photo

Find her:
Twitter
Instagram
Medium
Carmella recently moved from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico where she plans on supporting the local agriculture movement and writing a memoir about her relationship with her father who suffers from early-onset dementia.
You can learn more about Carmella by visiting her website and reading her weekly newsletter.

What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?

Since my Sweet publication, I’ve taught poetry to Miami elementary students in English, French, Spanish, and Creole. I’ve also started performing as a stand-up comic.

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?

I’m excited about my weekly newsletter, Dispatches from my Digital Life, in which I explore issues of digital health, and the addictive nature of our relationships to our handheld devices and online identities.  I’ve written about a yearlong social media sabbatical I took for Orion magazine. I’m also in the early stages of writing a memoir about my relationship with my extraordinary father and his journey from sailboat captain to dementia patient.

Who is your favorite author?

Joy Harjo

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

I love memoirs because I love seeing someone’s life experience from the inside. Choosing my favorite books is hard, so instead I’ll just tell you what I’ve recently read and loved: Native Country of the Heart by Cherrie Moraga, Memory Palace by Mira Bartok, Becoming by Michelle Obama, The Baltimore Book of the Dead by Marion Winik, The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube by Blair Braverman, Rough Beauty by Karen Auvirnen, and Paula by Isabel Allende.

 What inspires you to write?

Writing allows me to connect with myself and the world around me in a deeper way.

What is your favorite sweet?

My favorite sweet is the French staple, crepes. In my family, we have a long tradition of Sunday crepe brunches, and while we make them with all kinds of toppings, my favorite is the simple sucre/citron combination: brown sugar and lemon. You can’t go wrong!

 Thank you, Carmella, for taking the time to reconnect with us.  We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Sweet Connections: Adam Hughes

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.

Name: Adam Hughes
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: Grace
Issue:  7.3

Hughes Photo

 

Find him:
Twitter
Instagram
Facebook

Adam lives outside of Lynchburg, Virginia where he is a second year MFA student at Randolph College. You can learn more about Adam on his website.

 

What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?

Since appearing in Sweet I’ve published two more full length collections. Allow the Stars to Catch Me When I Rise (which includes my poem “Grace” which appeared in Sweet) came out from Salmon Poetry in 2017 and Deep Cries Out to Deep came out from Aldrich Press also in 2017. I’ve also begun my MFA at Randolph College.

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?

I’ve begun assembling another collection as well as a concept collection that revolves around a fictional society where maps have been outlawed. The poems ask the questions of why, what would be the ramifications, and what would be lost.

Who is your favorite author?

So many right now. Kaveh Akbar, Ilya Kaminsky, Diana Khoi Nguyen. I’m also really drawn to non-fiction authors Robert Macfarlane and Tony Horwitz.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Right now, I’d say Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic hit me in a way I’m not sure any other poetry collection ever has.

What inspires you to write?

I’m not sure how to answer this without reverting to cliché. I was a pastor for seven years and, as a recovering evangelical, my relationship with the Divine Other is a continually evolving, dynamic thing that appears constantly in my writing. I also write as a father, a divorcee, a newly engaged man, an amateur rugby player; all my various selves give inspiration to my writing.

What is your favorite sweet?

As a type 1 diabetic, I shouldn’t have too many answers to this one. But I do. A lot of them. Too many, really. For now, I’ll simply say that the apple cobbler my fiancé makes is my favorite sweet. I had some for breakfast this morning!

Thank you, Adam, for taking the time to reconnect with us.  We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Sweet Connections: Patrice Gopo

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.

Name: Patrice Gopo
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: Two Shorts
Issue:  7.1

Version 2

Find her:
Twitter
Instagram
Facebook

Patrice lives in Charlotte, North Carolina where she is successfully inhabiting a state of rest in the aftermath of the release of her essay collection last August. You can learn more about Patrice on her website.

What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?

It’s been a really neat couple of years since Sweet first published my work. The North Carolina Arts Council chose me as one of their 2017-2018 Literature Fellows. A huge honor. Then my first book All the Colors We Will See released in August 2018. The book is an essay collection about race, racial identity formation, immigration, and belonging (and includes the essay “Before” that originally appeared in Sweet). Barnes and Noble chose it as a Fall 2018 Discover Great New Writers Selection. Since the book released, I’ve had many neat opportunities to speak to corporations, nonprofits, universities, and other organizations about topics in the book and the power of sharing personal stories.

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?

Life has been quite hectic since my essay collection released. This summer, I’ve been intentional about taking time off to rest, to spend time with my family, and to possibly create space for new ideas to form. But one project that reached completion earlier this year that still makes me excited is the CharlotteLit Beautiful Truth Initiative—a city-wide initiative where we brought together people in the community with the purpose of leading them through activities to help them identify and share their stories as a way of building connection. I developed the curriculum for this initiative. You can read more about it here: https://www.charlottelit.org/blog/beautiful-truth-initiative/

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Oh, there are so many authors and books that it’s impossible to narrow it down to just one. Marita Golden’s Don’t Play in the Sun is one of my favorites. I’ll also share a few books I’ve read in the last couple of months that I really love. Mira Jacob’s graphic memoir Good Talk, Grace Talusan’s memoir The Body Papers, and LaTanya McQueen’s essay collection And It Begins Like This. I love creative nonfiction, and these books are excellent examples all in their own unique ways.

What inspires you to write?

On a larger scale: a love of sharing stories and a belief that stories have power to shift mindsets and help us build a more equitable world. On a more microscopic level: a love of the rhythm of language and the beauty conveyed through words arranged in a particular way.

What is your favorite sweet?

Strawberry rhubarb pie and ice-cream. Better together! Sadly, no recipe as I’ve never made a strawberry rhubarb pie. I was making homemade ice-cream a few months back, but none of the batches ever turned out quite how I wanted . . .

Thank you, Patrice, for taking the time to reconnect with us.  We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Sweet Connections: M.P. Stout

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future. 

Name: M.P. Stout
Title of Piece published in Sweet: At the Annual Christmas Party 
Issue:  8.1

MS-3

Find her:
Twitter

Meg resides in Southern Maine and juggles her time between working in marketing technology, writing, exploring the woods, and homesteading. She does not currently have a website.

 

What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication? 

I’d say my biggest accomplishment was finally deciding to take the MFA leap—something I’ve been wanting to do for years. I’m currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at Warren Wilson College. It’s such a blessing to have this time to focus on improving my craft, reading constantly, and absorbing everything I can learn from my fellow writers.

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about? 

I love to forage for wild mushrooms, so unsurprisingly they have been popping up in my work a lot lately. I’m having fun experimenting with poems that confuse and scramble the inner and outer worlds. I’m interested in how emotion can suffuse the natural landscape, and I’m working on a number of poems that talk about and around grief.

Who is your favorite author? 

Most recently, I’ve fallen in love with work by Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Louise Gluck, Yusef Komunyakaa, Elizabeth Bishop, Ross Gay, and Mark Doty.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book? 

Impossible to narrow it down, but in my late teens I got my hands on a copy of Strike Sparks by Sharon Olds. Her work opened my mind to what poetry could do and be.

What inspires you to write? 

I spend a lot of time in the woods, which always feeds my creative mind. This year, I’ve written about bioluminescent mushrooms, invasive moths, snapping turtle sex… all sorts of oddities. Since moving to a rural home, climate change has been haunting my thoughts more than ever. I’m noticing it appearing everywhere in my work. The more I fall in love with the land, the more painful it becomes to observe what has happened—and what could happen—to the natural communities I’ve gotten to know.

What is your favorite sweet?

Vegan chocolate mousse is so easy and rich. Just chill a can of coconut cream, then blend with cocoa powder, honey, and a dash of salt.

Thank you, Meg, for taking the time to reconnect with us.  We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Sweet Connections: Sarah Ann Winn

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.

Name: Sarah Ann Winn
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: Funeral FAQs
Issue: 9.2

squarephoto

Find her:

Twitter
Instagram

Sarah teaches online at the Loft Literary Center and does poetry readings and workshops across the country. You can find out more about her at http://www.bluebirdwords.com.

What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?

My first full-length collection, Alma Almanac, was selected by Elaine Equi as the winner of the Barrow Street Book Prize and was published in 2017! I also was on the Wigleaf Longlist in 2017, and won Press 53’s September Prime Number contest last year. 2017 was a big year for poet dreams! More recently, my fifth chapbook, Ever After the End Matter was released by Porkbelly Press this year.

alma almanac sarah ann winn cover

 

everaftertheendmatter (1)

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?

I’m working on completing a full length book of persona poems imagining a crumbling marriage between the couple named after the online retailer Dot & Bo. Their frenetic redecorating emails still inspire me!

Who is your favorite author?

Terry Pratchett. I feel a little guilty loving him the way I do, considering there are a great
number of poets who I adore, but it’s Pratchett whose books I fall asleep to at night.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

That’s such a tough question, especially for a former librarian! I think right now it’s Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle because it’s the one I’m in the middle of rereading. If you’d ask me again in a day, it would probably be whatever book I was reading that moment. Lynda Barry’s What It Is is upside down on my desk with post-its sticking out of various pages, so maybe that would be tomorrow’s? Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife has been stuffed in my travel bag for the last couple of trips, and I’m luxuriating in it all over again. Who can pick just one??

What inspires you to write?

Reading, prompts, being out in the world. I’m a daily writer, so anything I’ve seen or heard the day before is fodder for the next day’s writing.

What is your favorite sweet?

I love my grandma’s apple dumplings. This recipe is pretty close, although she doesn’t use brown sugar. Don’t handle the crust too much. She also sometimes uses red-
hot candies to make the sauce pink/more cinnamon-y. YUM!
https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/apple-dumplings-with-sauce/

Thank you, Sarah, for taking the time to reconnect with us.We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Sweet Connections: Lisa Lopez Smith

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.

Name: Lisa Lopez Smith
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: film reel 
Issue:  10.1

IMG_0014

 

Find her:
Twitter 

Lisa resides at her home in Mexico after visiting her hometown in Canada. She hopes to eventually have a website.

 


What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication? 

I published an article in Lacuna Magazine about walking across the Sonoran Desert from Mexico to the States to remember those who have died making the journey, and a poem in CuiZine: Journal of Canadian Food Culture about the time we slaughtered one of our sheep here at home.

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about? 

I am working on a poetry chapbook and revising my YA novel.

Who is your favorite author?

I recently finished Luis Alberto Urrea’s The Hummingbird’s Daughter, and fell in love with his prose that often reads like poetry, and how he breathed life into images of Mexico during the revolution.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book? 

Jean Vanier’s Becoming Human has a permanent spot on my bedside table so that when I finish it, I can just start reading it again.

What inspires you to write? 

Writing is how I make sense of the world. Even on a bad day writing still has some satisfaction in it, that at least I showed up doing what I’m here to do.

What is your favorite sweet? 

The raw vegan Black Forest Cake from Alissa Cohen’s raw/vegan recipe book: cherries, nuts, carob, avocado magic!

Thank you, Lisa, for taking the time to reconnect with us.  We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Sweet Connections: Karin Killian

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.

Name: Karin Killian
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Once, A Moon
Issue: 9.1

KillianFind her:
Twitter
Instagram
Originally from Northern Minnesota, Karin currently lives in Traverse City, Michigan, and loves to read on the beach during the summer. She does not currently have a website.

What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?

My Sweet publication was my first CNF publication. Last year I had another piece appear in the Spring 2018 issue Creative Nonfiction Magazine. That piece was an experimental project about a very personal topic. I was extremely honored and grateful that it found such a wonderful home. Also, I recently decided to return to school to study writing. (My undergraduate degree is in International Studies.) I recently completed my first semester in the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. I am honored to get to study in this incredible program.

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?

I am currently working on a long essay about an experience I had right out of college, working as a volunteer with the UNHCR Public Information Office, which sent me to live in a refugee camp in Southern Mexico. Part of the essay is, naturally, about my experience in the camps. I was 22, and still rather naïve. My body was not accustomed to living in such harsh conditions. I got dengue fever. And of course, being young and inexperienced I was not able to do much work of any true benefit while I was there. But even more, I am trying to confront the history of the camps where I worked, how they relate to the current refugee crisis on our border and how my experience at 22 serves as a metaphor for me of naiveté and helplessness of most North Americans regarding the realities of these refugee populations.

Who is your favorite author?

Oh my—it is not possible to pick just one! I read widely and constantly, and I cherish the work of hundreds of different writers. But lately I have been reading a lot of Rachel Cusk and Abigail Thomas. I also was enormously impressed by Valeria Luiselli’s new novel Lost Children Archive.  In different ways the work of these writers have provided me with inspiration and instruction of immeasurable value.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

I just finished Heavy by Kiese Laymon.  The power of this book cannot be understated.

What inspires you to write?

I am most inspired by the secrets we keep.

What is your favorite sweet?

Last summer I got to travel to Paris with my daughters, who are ages 8 and 12. Before we went, we were trying to learn all we could about Paris, and we discovered this sweet little show on Amazon Prime called Alice in Paris.
https://www.tastemade.com/shows/alice-in-paris

In the show Alice visits all sorts of secret sweet shops in Paris. In one episode she goes to Le BonBon au Palais, and after seeing the episode we had to see it too!   http://www.bonbonsaupalais.fr/

It has to be one of the best candy stores in the world. The owner, Georges, is the most passionate business owner I have met. He has collected artisanal sweets made by traditional candy makers from every region in France. I was most impressed by the crystallized flowers. But every single thing we tasted was spectacular!   http://www.bonbonsaupalais.fr/les-fleurs-cristallisees/219-violettes-cristallisees.html

Thank you, Karin, for taking the time to reconnect with us. We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Sweet Connections: Vanya Erickson

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.

Name: Vanya Erickson
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Remembering
Issue: 9.1

Vanya Erickson
Find her:
Instagram
Facebook

Vanya is the award-winning author of Boot Language. She’s spent decades teaching writing as well as mentoring educators in the oldest, continuously used schoolhouse in California. Her essays have appeared in a dozen literary journals and anthologies. Find out more about Vanya at www.vanyaerickson.com.

2019 WINNER Indie Book Award (Overcoming Adversity/Tragedy)                                        2019 SILVER MEDAL Benjamin Franklin Award (for best new voice)                                        2019 FINALIST Indie Excellence Award (Memoir as well as Regional Nonfiction: The West)
2019 FINALIST International Book Awards (Narrative Nonfiction)

What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?

I launched my memoir, Boot Language and am thrilled it was so well accepted!

Cool stuff on my website
Click here for the Boot Language book trailer.
Sign up for the latest updates and receive a gift.

I also love to speak on my favorite topic: “Writing the Hard Stuff” and had the please of doing so at The Bay Area Book Festival this year!

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?

I’m currently researching and writing a historical novel based on my grandmother’s life as a suffragette who drove an ambulance during WWI. It’s a story about the struggle for meaning and the longing to do something important.

Who is your favorite author?

Madeline L’Engle is who comes to mind. She has a magical ability to captivate readers. It has to do with her magical ability to contrast good and evil.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?                                                                                      Poem: Anything by Mary Oliver, but “Mindful” is a standout.
Essay: The latest from comedian Hannah Gadsby.
Book: Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time

What inspires you to write?

Whatever is burning in my head: Contrasts, Injustice, beauty, passion, resilience; how humbling it is to be human.

What is your favorite sweet?

The killer brownies at Companion Bakeshop in Santa Cruz, CA!
https://companionbakers.wordpress.com/menu-ordering/

Thank you, Vanya, for taking the time to reconnect with us. We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Sweet Connections: Jamie Cattanach

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future. 

Name: Jamie Cattanach
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Penelope 
Issue:  8.2

Jamie-8574

Find her:
Twitter 
Instagram 
Facebook 

Jamie resides among the wonderful landscape of Santa Fe, New Mexico. You can find out more about her at www.jamiecattanach.com.

What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?

Hmmm. I’ve published creative work at Nashville Review, DMQ Review, and Hinchas de Poesia; I became a full-time freelance writer and have been featured in popular outlets like SELF, The Establishment, HuffPost, Fodor’s, Yahoo, and others. I picked up and moved across the country to a city where I knew no one and have carved out a real home here. I have continued, though slowly and without much rigor or consistency, to write poetry, which is always a triumph.

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?

The start of 2018 marks the end of my second full year of supporting myself on freelance writing income alone. I’m excited to continue to find ways to grow my business and use my craft to bring valuable information and stories to readers!

Who is your favorite author? 

This question is SO HARD and my answer changes all the time. Can I talk about some of the best books I read in 2018 instead? Faves included:
The Recovering by Leslie Jamison
Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins
Jenny George’s gorgeous poetry debut, The Dream of Reason
Florida by Lauren Groff
My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

What is your favorite poem/essay/book? 

Please see above. Though, I will admit that my go-to feel-good read is the novella-length piece on the dubiously enjoyable experience of cruise ships, by David Foster Wallace.

What inspires you to write? 

Being in the world. How small and insignificant our lives are, and yet –how entirely they do matter, how they’re all we have. The honest-to-goodness magic of taking what’s in my brain and putting it into another’s, and vice versa. Bodies. Outer space. Intense physical pleasure.

What is your favorite sweet? 

I actually don’t eat refined sugar as a rule! But I adore Lindt’s 90% dark chocolate bar, even better when topped with a little bit of natural almond butter and sea salt.

Thank you, Jamie, for taking the time to reconnect with us.  We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!