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cow creek chapbook prize

announcing the results of the 2022 contest!

We’re thrilled to announce that the winner of the 2022 Cow Creek Chapbook Prize is:


CRYBABY! by Sydney Vogl


Heres what this years judge, Chen Chen, had to say about Vogl’s chapbook:

“i could have one lover in each arm and still hunger from all three of my hearts.” Thus reads, in its entirety, one of the brilliantly succinct, single-line self-portrait poems in this collection so full of arms and hungers and yes, hearts. Hearts in love, hearts questioning gender, hearts hitting rock bottom only to rediscover some secret warmth. CRYBABY! embraces emotion like sunflowers spilling from a gorgeous pocket dimension where vulnerability shines hard, sings harder. I so love these poems’ “unrotten strawberries” and “veins on… mother’s hands,” these scents and textures of delight, intimacy, heartbreak. What a sweaty supernova of aliveness, what an unabashed sob of a gift, this poetry.

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order you copy of the 2021 winner:

mel ruth's a name among bone.

Praise for A Name Among Bone:


“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. Mel 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.”

–Kayleb Rae Candrilli, Contest Judge and author of Water I Won't TouchAll the Gay Saints, and What Runs Over

“Confronting family lore, race, and grief through a “genealogy [that’s] only ever known holes,” these poems fashion a creation myth from fragments of life-long stories told to the speaker, stories which blur the line between facts and the desire for something to be true. “But how do I gauge / the weight of memory?” the speaker asks, and Mel Ruth offers up these image-saturated lyrics in an attempt to answer.”

–Sandy Longhorn, author of Blood Almanac, The Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths, and Alchemy of My Mortal Form

Mel Ruth is a PhD student at Georgia State University, with a focus on poetry. Mel has pieces published in Pleiades, Emerson Review, New Pages, and more. They were a Slice Literary Magazine “Bridging the Gap” Finalist, and their chapbook A Name Among Bone, was a semi-finalist in the 2020 Black River Chapbook Contest, and the winner of the 2021 Cow Creek Chapbook contest. They/them or she/her/hers. Follow them on Twitter @_Mel_Ruth_.

Sydney Vogl is the winner of the 2021 Jane Underwood Poetry Prize and the 2020 AWP Intro Journals Project. They are the author of the chapbook CALIFORNIA IS GOING TO HELL and have poems appearing in Iron Horse Literary Review, Tusculum Review, Honey Literary, Booth, and more. She currently lives, writes and teaches in San Francisco.

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Chen Chen also named a runner-up this year:


Rhythm Make a Riot, Abigail Minor


We’re also happy to announce this year’s finalists, of which we had more than any other year:

Apart-ment, Steven Gehrke

Bodies of Separation, Sher Ting Chim

Coming Home, Angela Siew

The Corrected Version, Rosanna Oh

Dear Question: A Conversation, Lauren Henley

Heartland Errata, Dante Di Stefano

Like Shining from Shook Foil, Christian Teresi

MILK RIVER, Taylor Alyson Lewis

Skyscrape, John Sibley Williams

Snake Lore, Jane Morton

When I Say the Bones I Mean the Bones, Amanda Hawkins

Word of Our Crossing, Jed Myers

More info on the author, chapbook, and how to order an advanced copy to come! 

editorial staff:

Chloe Hanson

Taylor Johnson

Peter Vertacnik

Spencer Young

Winniebell Xinyu 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.