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cow creek chapbook prize

announcing the winner of the 2021

cow creek chapbook prize:

We’re happy to announce the winner and finalists for the 2021 Cow Creek Chapbook Prize:


This year’s winner is A Name Among Bone, by Melinda Ruth.


Here’s what judge Kayleb Candrilli had to say about Ruth’s chapbook:


“In A Name Among Bone we thumb the threads of the familial. Threads as thematic, threads as textile—as the linen passed down from generation to generation. We tether our dead closer with language, with utterance, with the history we shout at our landscapes. Melinda Ruth knows that each one of us with blood is a historian. And, among the threads we thumb in this chapbook, so many mirrors. A hall of mirrors, revealing ghosts that are also our angels. Who hasn’t studied their eyes’ reflection, searching for ancestors? Drawn, with fingertips, the bridge of our noses in hunt for all the blood that bore us? A Name Among Bone hands us the fabric of a family. We are so lucky to hold it, if only briefly.”


Thanks to all who submitted! Our readers and judges had a lot of difficulty in coming to a final decision, which means that we had a lot of really strong chapbooks this year. Here are this year’s finalists:


Heartland Errata

Dante Di Stefano


Things Beneath the Sky

A.D. Lauren-Abunassar


All the Other Fathers

Morgan Eklund


Myths from Which We Got Our Name

Courtney Tala


Queridas Tías

Luisa Caycedo-Kimura



Anthony Thomas Lombardi


To the Person Who Tends My Body

Michael Meyerhofer


Lullaby in Fracktown

Lilace Mellin Guignard


Stay tuned for more news about the winner, the release date, and next year’s contest, which is already around the corner.

this year's guest judge: kayleb rae candrilli

Photo Credit: Beowulf Sheehan, 2019

Kayleb Rae Candrilli is a 2019 Whiting Award Winner in Poetry and the author of Water I Won’t Touch, Copper Canyon Press 2021, All the Gay Saints, Saturnalia 2020, and What Runs Over, YesYes Books 2017. You can read more of Candrilli’s work here.

casey thayer's love for the gun is available for order

Love for the Gun Cover.jpg

“In Love for the Gun, the TEC-9 trappings of masculinity—“big guns, small bore”—are usurped, remixed & rearranged, until the rifle becomes a blunt instrument of intimacy between hunter & frail son: “I worked / at growing softer, held the pistol / like a hurt bird, perhaps a swallow. / Not like my father, as a man might do.” These poems are double-barreled in their approach: Ecstatic & elegiac. Reverent & irreverent. They are anthems for love & loss of god & country that modulate, expertly, between intellect & levity. Stirring with vulnerability & lyric precision, Casey Thayer’s aim is true.”

–Marcus Wicker, author of Silencer and Maybe the Saddest Thing

editorial staff:


John Andrews

Ellie Davis

Alysse Gopalakrishnan

Chloe Hanson

Grace Hendrickson

Taylor Johnson

Kayla McCullough

Megan Munger

Peter Vertacnik

Spencer Young

Winniebell Zong

questions? contact us:

thanks, you'll hear from us soon


We subscribe to the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses Contest Code of Ethics. Guidelines and issues of conflict of interest can be found above. Part of that code is making our process transparent to the public. All chapbooks are initially read by the editorial staff. Exceptional chapbooks then go to a second round of readers, who narrow potential winners down to a limited number of finalists, which are sent to the guest judge for selection.