Announcing the Winners
of the 2019 Gulf Coast Prize
"True Blue" by Hannah Withers
"The Day Papa Folded Into the Sky" by Elvira Vera
"Perfect Specimens" by Sara Duff
Garth Greenwell, on the winner:
First, I was grabbed by the voice—whip-vivid and jittery, anxious and smart—of this painful, funny study of friendship, and then I was captivated by its insight. Stymied by love they don’t know what to do with, these characters fumble their feelings, mistake tenderness and cruelty. I’ll remember them for a long time.
Hannah Withers has an MFA from the University of Montana. Her work has been published at McSweeney's, the Santa Clara Review, Barely South Review, The Believer Logger, NPR, and The Kenyon Review Online. She's been honorably mentioned by Glimmer Train for their Family Matters Contest (2013) and their Short Story Award for New Writers (2016), and was one of ten winners of McSweeney's Annual Column Contest in 2013. She was a finalist for the 2016 Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction and a 2017 Tin House Summer Workshop Scholarship recipient. She's currently working on a novel about cowboys (female) and rage (also female).
"Hinge" by Alycia Pirmohamed
“Devil's Tongue” by Felicia Zamora
"Ordinary Psalm in the Kitchen" by Julia Levine
Aimee Nezhukumatathil, on the winner:
“Hinge" gives us a new map for a land where both heartbreak and delight can reside, even if, as the speaker notes, "planting my palms together has never felt like blossoming up the side of a mountain..." In the elegant build and stretch of this poem, we are given exquisite possibilities for language and a green longing--all while managing to stack lyricism and light in sonically surprising ways.
Alycia Pirmohamed is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Edinburgh, where she is studying poetry written by second-generation immigrants. Her forthcoming chapbook, Faces that Fled the Wind, was selected by Camille Rankine for the 2018 BOAAT Press Chapbook Prize. Alycia is a recent recipient of the 92Y/Discovery Poetry Contest, The Adroit Journal's Djanikian Scholars Program, and winner of The Ploughshares’ Emerging Writer’s Contest in poetry. Her work can be found in The Paris Review Daily, Prairie Schooner, Best Canadian Poetry, and Poetry Book Society among others. She received an MFA from the University of Oregon.
"Hunting Season" by Julia Brennan
"The Evangelist" by Kathleen Blackburn
"Theory of Harmony" by Nichole LeFebvre
Leslie Jamison, on the winner:
"Hunting Season" is a fierce, unsettling, precise and adamantly nuanced exploration of power, exploitation, sexuality, and solidarity, an interrogation of the concept of victimhood that also finds an uneasy and searing language for pain. This writing turns over the stone of every piety to find a mess of unsavory creatures writhing underneath. But it also finds grace in eloquence; it seeks the candors that lie on the other side of sentimentality.
Julia Brennan is a writer and performer from central New York. She is the author of Hunting Season, which won the 2019 Tarpaulin Sky Book Award and will be published by Tarpaulin Sky Press in 2020. She holds an MFA in fiction from Brown University, where she won the Frances Mason Harris ’26 manuscript award. Her work has been published in Hotel Amerika and Big Big Wednesday, among other publications. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where she teaches courses at Providence College.