2016 Balcones Winners Announced

Austin Community College announces the winners of the 2016 Balcones Fiction and Poetry Prizes
Balcones Fiction Prize—Bystanders (SFWP) by Tara Laskowski

Judging Tara Laskowski’s Bystanders, novelist Amanda Eyre Ward said, “Her stories pulsed with energy and excitement, like small lightning storms on the page. I was constantly surprised by her characters, and finished the book wishing there were more. I think she is a real talent—original and vibrant—and I’m excited to celebrate her work.”

Laskowski is also the author of the flash fiction collection Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons, tales of dark etiquette. Her fiction has been published in W. W. Norton’s Flash Fiction International, Best Small Fictions, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Mid-American Review, and other places. She won the grand prize for the 2010 Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards Series. Tara earned a BA in English with a minor in writing from Susquehanna University and an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University. Since 2010, she has been the editor of the online flash fiction journal SmokeLong Quarterly.

Finalists for the Balcones Fiction Prize are:
Brightfellow by Rikki Ducornet (Coffee House)
Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter (Graywolf)
Heirlooms by Rachel Hall (BkMk)
Landfall by Julie Hensley (Ohio State University)
Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy (Graywolf)

Former winners of the Balcones Fiction Prize:
People Like You by Margaret Malone, 2015
Hold the Dark by William Giraldi, 2014
Girls I Know by Douglas Trevor, 2013
We Sinners by Hanna Pylvainen, 2012
Send Me Work by Katherine Karlin, 2011
Love Like Hate by Linh Dinh, 2010

Balcones Poetry Prize—American Happiness (NewSouth Books) by Jacqueline Allen Trimble

American Happiness is Jacqueline Allen Trimble’s first book. A professor of English at Alabama State University in Montgomery, she has published in The Griot, The Offing and The Blue Lake Review; she was a Cave Canem fellow and recipient of a literary arts fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts in 2017.

Of Trimble’s poetry, the judges said, “Trimble should never be taken lightly, but darn it, her poems are so often funny. She can face the darkness with courage and understanding, she can embrace joy with tenderness and sensuality, and she can find the seams and gaps where laughter lives. Hers is a refreshing new voice.” “Her poetry is intimate, humorous and irony-filled. She stares paradox in the eye and stares it down. The personal and the universal she treats as one in the same.”

Four finalists were also named:
“Incorrect Merciful Impulses” (Copper Canyon) by Claudia Rankine
“Arabesques for Travelers” (West End Press) by Bryce Milligan
“Everything We Always Knew Was True” (Copper Canyon) James Galvin
“Vivas to Those Who Have Failed” (Norton) Martin Espada

The judges for the 2016 prize were Prudence Arceneaux, a poet and professor of English and Creative Writing at Austin Community College; Richard Price, a poet and retired professor of English at Austin Community College; and John Herndon, a poet and professor of English and Creative Writing at Austin Community College.

Former winners of the Balcones Poetry Prize:
What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford, ed. Michael Wiegers, 2015
Once in the West, Michael Wiman, 2014
Interrobang, Jessica Piazza, 2013
When My Brother Was an Aztec, Natalie Diaz, 2012
Bone Fires, Mark Jarmon, 2011
Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been, Chase Twichell, 2010
Portrait and Dream, Bill Berkson, 2009
Dismantling the Hills, Michael McGriff, 2008
At the Drive-In Volcano, Aimee Nezhukumatahil, 2007
Drive, Lorna Dee Cervantes, 2006
No Accident, Aaron Anstett, 2005
Dancing on Main Street, Lorenzo Thomas, 2004
Bread Without Sorrow, John Hogden, 2002
Short History of Pets, Carol Potter, 2001
In the Surgical Theatre, Dana Levin, 2000
The Red-Shifting Web, Arthur Sze, 1999
Sparrow: New and Selected Poems, Reginald Gibbons, 1997
The Body Mutinies, Lucia Perillo, 1996
Every Substance Clothed, Kathleen Halme, 1995

Nominations for the 2017 Balcones Fiction and Poetry Prizes will be accepted from September 1, 2017 to January 31, 2018.

For more information: John Herndon, Austin Community College, 1212 Rio Grande Street, Austin, Texas 78701; jherndon@austincc.edu; 512-828-9368; sites.austincc.edu/crw.