Balcones Prize Winners

Winner of the 2022 Balcones Fiction Prize 

My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson (Holt)

Nicole Johnson
is the author of My Monticello, a fiction debut that was called “a masterly feat” by the New York Times and a winner of the Lillian Smith Book Awards and the Weatherford Award for work that reflects Appalachia. Johnson’s work was also a finalist for the Kirkus Fiction Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Leonard Award, the LA Times Debut Seidenbaum Prize, as well as longlisted for a Pen/Faulkner Fiction Award and the Story Prize. Johnson has been a fellow at Tin House, Hedgebrook, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, The Guardian, Kweli Journal, Joyland, and elsewhere. Her short story “Control Negro” was anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, guest edited by Roxane Gay and read live by LeVar Burton. A veteran public school art teacher, Johnson lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Our final judge, novelist Dalia Azim, said this:

My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson showcases the brilliance of an extraordinary new voice in fiction. The five stories and novella in this collection reckon with the legacy of slavery in America, the persistence of racism, and where violent hatred can lead. Diverse in voice and focus, each of these stories is a gem, and the title novella unforgettable.”

The Balcones Fiction Prize finalists (in alphabetical order) are:

The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura

Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim 

Walking on Cowrie Shells by Nana Nkweti


Winner of the 2022 Balcones Poetry Prize

Worldly Things by Michael Kleber-Diggs (Milkweed) 

Michael Kleber-Diggs
is the author of Worldly Things, which was awarded the 2020 Max Ritvo Poetry Prize. He was born and raised in Kansas and now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. His work has appeared in Lit Hub, the Rumpus, Rain Taxi, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Water~Stone Review, Midway Review, North Dakota Quarterly, and a few anthologies. Michael teaches poetry and creative nonfiction through the Minnesota Prison Writers Workshop.

The winner, selected by judge Edward Vidaurre, said: “Kleber-Diggs gutted me with his breath to truth. A collection that allows for vulnerability and responsibility. Because of Worldy Things, we can move toward poetry for hope.”

The Balcones Poetry Prize finalists (in alphabetical order) are:

Arsenal With Praise Song by Rodney Gómez

Heard-Hoard by Atsuro Riley

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