University of Southern Indiana

Mary C. Mohr Awards

Southern Indiana Review annually awards three prizes of $2000 each and publication for a poem, a work of creative nonfiction, and a work of short fiction. All entries are considered for publication. Submit up to ten pages of poetry or thirty pages of prose. The deadline is October 1, 2018. 

The contest fee for entering each of the three categories will be $20 (plus Submittable processing fee, if uploaded electronically). Your entry fee will cover one submission in one category; you are able to send multiple submissions in each category, provided an additional fee of $5 is paid for each entry. All entrants will receive a one-year subscription to SIR per genre (so if you pay $40 to enter for poetry and nonfiction, you will receive a two-year subscription to the journal).

Complete guidelines are available here.

Click here to upload your entry.

Feel free to call or email if you have any questions.

Contest mailing address:

Southern Indiana Review
Mary C. Mohr Awards
University of Southern Indiana
8600 University Boulevard
Evansville, IN  47712

2018 Judges

Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, nonfiction judge Kiese Laymon is Ottilie Schillig Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi. He is author of the memoir Heavy; the novel Long Division; and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. Laymon has written essays, stories, and reviews for numerous publications including Esquire, McSweeneys, The New York Times, ESPN the Magazine, NPR, LitHub, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, PEN Journal, Oxford American, The Best American Series, Ebony, TheParis Review and Guernica.

Fiction judge Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the novels The Great Believers, The Hundred-Year House, and The Borrower, as well as the short story collection Music for Wartime. Her short fiction won a 2017 Pushcart Prize, and was chosen for The Best American Short Stories for four consecutive years (2008-2011). The recipient of a 2014 NEA fellowship, Makkai is on the MFA faculties of Sierra Nevada College and Northwestern University, and she is the Artistic Director of StoryStudio Chicago.

Poetry judge Aimee Nezhukumatathil's newest collection of poems, Oceanic, is with Copper Canyon Press. She is also the author of the forthcoming book of illustrated nature essays, World of Wonder (Milkweed, 2019), and three poetry collections: Lucky Fish (2011); At the Drive-In Volcano (2007), winner of the Balcones Prize; and Miracle Fruit (2003), winner of the Tupelo Press Prize, ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award, and the Global Filipino Award and a finalist for The Glasgow Prize and the Asian American Literary Award. Her most recent chapbook is Lace & Pyrite (2014), a collaboration of nature poems with the poet Ross Gay.

2017 Winners

Adriana Páramo is a Latina anthropologist, writer, and women’s rights advocate. She is the author of Looking for Esperanza, and My Mother’s Funeral. Her essays have appeared in multiple literary magazines and been noted in The Best American Essays of 2012, 2013, and 2014. In 2014, she was named as one of the top ten Latino authors in the USA. Páramo is an adjunct professor in the low-residency MFA program at Fairfield University and an active member of the travel writing workshop of VONA—Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation—a community of writers of color. She is currently writing from Qatar, where oddly enough, she works as a yoga and zumba instructor.

“'Love on the Iditarod Trail' is an excellent piece that mixes loss with discovery and the kind of intense understanding of passion that usually comes when people know it's flaming out.”

—Reginald Dwayne Betts, 2017 nonfiction judge

Shubha Venugopal
holds an MFA in fiction and a PhD in English. She was a winner in The Master’s Review 2016 annual fiction competition and in Fish Publishing’s 2017 flash fiction competition. Her work has appeared or will appear in: Nimrod International Journal Awards Issue, 2017; WomenArts Quarterly Journal; The Masters Review Volume 5; BANG!: New Guard Review; Kartika Review; Potomac Review; Post Road Magazine; Storyglossia; Word Riot; Mslexia and in other journals. Her stories appeared in the anthology A Stranger Among Us: Stories of Cross Cultural Collision and Connection and in the 2009 Robert Olen Butler Short Fiction Prize anthology. Venugopal teaches at the California State University Northridge.

“Out of a strong group of finalists, I chose 'Playing at Parent' as the winner. The two main characters—the narrator and his bereaved wife—are wonderfully complex, their damage compellingly and convincingly rendered. I love how the husband is initially only a bystander to his wife's consuming grief, but through the course of a story, as he becomes her accomplice in a dangerous charade, he ultimately—deservedly—is allowed some grief of his own. This story is beautifully written, a unique illustration of the complexity of loss, and of hope.”

—Susan Perabo, 2017 fiction judge

Mark Wagenaar
is the 2016 winner of Red Hen Press’ Benjamin Saltman Prize for his forthcoming book Southern Tongues Leave Us Shining. His first two collections, The Body Distances (A Hundred Blackbirds Rising) and Voodoo Inverso, won UMass Press’s Juniper Prize and the University of Wisconsin Press’s Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry, respectively. He has also won a number of poetry prizes, including the James Wright Prize and the Pablo Neruda Prize. His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from The New Yorker, Tin House, 32 Poems, Field, Southern Review, Image, and many others. Wagenaar is currently serving as a visiting assistant professor at Valparaiso University.

“'Ante Up' offers up the familiar and makes it strange. This poet plays with cliché and idiom, balancing the contemporary and secular (poker, river card, pocket rocket, exes, IRS, whiskey) with the timeless and exalted (manna, grace, prayer, Jordan, mercy, God, angels). This friction is essential; the banal and holy knock against each other like rocks, making sparks. I particularly admire the pacing in this poem, and the startling turns at the line breaks—how meaning is made in these moments. Each discovery feels true, like something you knew once but forgot you knew.”

—Maggie Smith, 2017 poetry judge

2016 Winners

Bradford Kammin

Bradford Kammin’s fiction has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Arts & Letters, the Cimarron Review, and elsewhere, and has been recognized in The Best American Short Stories anthology’s list of distinguished stories. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s MFA program in creative writing, where he was awarded six Hopwood Awards for his short stories, novel, and nonfiction. He is currently pursuing a PhD in English and creative writing at Western Michigan University, where he teaches creative writing and serves as fiction editor of Third Coast.

“In a world of Flying J truck stops, rest areas and nickel slots, a long-haul trucker makes one last run—with his aging and perpetually down-on-her luck sister riding shotgun. With humor and grit, the two must face a lifetime of bad decisions and compromises, making a few new ones along the way. Life at the helm of an eighteen-wheeler is perfectly captured here, from high-elevation engine braking to the flat light of Nevada, but what this author really gets right is the tread-bare voice. 'I’d spent my life chasing the horizon,' the narrator tells us, 'but I was coming to realize that if it ever got any closer, then it wasn’t a horizon at all.'”

—Adam Johnson, 2016 fiction judge

Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson was recently awarded Sigma Tau Delta’s Eleanor P. North Poetry Award. His poetry has appeared in Skive Journal, Empirical Journal, and The Avenue, among others. He grew up in rural Canada, and now lives with his wife, Sherise, and son, Jacob, in Houston, Texas, where he is a clinical psychologist and studies creative writing at the University of Houston.

“'manhood' is a poem of the best beauty in that it makes no judgments, no calls to itself in vanity, no explanations that show a distrust for the reader. The poet allows for a marriage of music and narrative that makes the dramatic situation of the poem clear; we see things for what they are and draw our own conclusions. We participate in the art that is in front of us." 

—Jericho Brown, 2016 poetry judge

Bradford's prize-winning story, “The One Good Thing About Las Vegas, Nevada,” and Richard's prize-winning poem, “manhood,” appear in the spring 2017 issue. View complete results of the 2016 contest here.

2015 Fiction Award Winner

Bull ElizabethA writer and filmmaker, Elizabeth Bull holds an MFA in fiction from The New School, and her work has appeared in Gulf Coast, H.O.W. Journal, Los Angeles Review of Books, Third Coast, and other journals. Elizabeth has also written and directed several films, and has received fellowships from UCLA, Rotary International, and the Fulbright Commission. Originally from Northern California, she currently lives in Brooklyn and is working on a novel.

Elizabeth's prize-winning story, “Dark Data,” appears in the spring 2016 issue. View complete results of the 2015 contest here.

2014 Poetry Award Winner

Mark Wagenaer (1)Mark Wagenaar is the winner of numerous poetry awards, including, in the past two years, the New Letters Poetry Prize, The Pinch Poetry Award, the James Wright Poetry Prize, the Poetry International Prize, & the Yellowwood Poetry Award. This past summer he served as the University of Mississippi’s 2014 Summer Poet in Residence. His debut manuscript, Voodoo Inverso, was the 2012 winner of the University of Wisconsin Press' Felix Pollak Prize, & his second manuscript, "The Body Distances," was first runner-up in Tupelo Press' 2014 Dorset Prize. Recent acceptances or publications include the New Yorker, Narrative Magazine, Field, the Chattahoochee Review, Shenandoah, & the Laurel Review. He and his wife, poet Chelsea Wagenaar, are doctoral fellows at the University of North Texas in Denton.

“This poem, from the first line, startled me with its beauty and seriousness of purpose, its reach and vision. It speaks with an awareness of the rise and fall of whole civilizations, yet from this moment, right now; appalled at the injustice of our age, it speaks with mercy and rage, and so much compassion. I read it again and then again and again. And then again. In a time when so many poems are games or mere solipsism this poem is necessary.”

—Marie Howe, 2014 judge

Mark's prize-winning poem, “Nocturne with Horses (Another Exile),” appears in the spring 2015 issue. View complete results of the 2014 contest here.

2013 Fiction Award Winner

Leslie CampbellLeslie Kirk Campbell is the author of Journey Into Motherhood (Riverhead) and has published her personal essays in the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine,, and Literary Mama. Her short story "Thunder in Illinois" was a finalist for the Iowa Review and the Bellevue Literary Review, received an Honorable Mention at Carve Magazine, and won the 2013 The Briar Cliff Review Award. Leslie received an MA in English/Creative Writing (poetry) from San Francisco State University and an MFA (fiction) from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She teaches creative writing at Ripe Fruit School of Creative Writing, a program she founded in 1991.

"If this was a high dive and not a story competition, 'Nightlight' would impress, in part, because of its level of difficulty. The story—a secret sharer themed story—is risky, ambitious, unpredictable, gracefully written, and rich in both its external detail and its characterizations."

—Stuart Dybek, 2013 judge

Leslie's prize-winning short story, "Nightlight," appears in the spring 2014 issue. View complete results of the 2013 contest here.

2012 Poetry Award Winner

Jed MyersJed Myers is a Philadelphian living in Seattle whose poems have appeared in Prairie SchoonerNimrod International JournalGolden Handcuffs Review,qarrtsiluniAtlanta ReviewQuiddityFugue, theJournal of the American Medical Association, the Rose Alley Press anthology Many Trails to the Summit, and elsewhere. He is also the winner of the 2012 Abbie M. Copps Poetry Prize.

"Music is a hard element to translate into words; something is always in danger of sonic loss, either the poem, or the subject itself. So I admired the task the poet of "Wire in Water" set for themselves, which in some small way, must mirror the dilemma Henryk Górecki must have had in composing his Symphony No. 3; how to say this, how to translate the near incomprehensible into notes? This poem does its duty to music, to language, to us."

— Cornelius Eady, 2012 judge

Jed's prize-winning poem, "Wire in Water," appears in the spring 2013 issue. View complete results of the 2012 contest here.

2011 Fiction Award Winner

Mary LarkinMary Larkin earned a PhD in creative writing and English at Florida State University and her MA from Hollins University’s Creative Writing Program, where she won the Andrew James Purdy Award. Larkin is a Pushcart nominee, a Fellow of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, an AWP Intro Journals Award nominee, a Writers@Work National Finalist, a two-time finalist for the Doris Betts Fiction Award, and the recipient of the North Carolina Blumenthal Writers Award. Her short stories have appeared in ShenandoahCutthroat: A Journal of the ArtsThe Nebraska ReviewThe Chattahoochee ReviewInkwellThe New Purlieu Review, and other journals.

Read an interview with Mary conducted by SIR interns Whitney Litherland and Trista Riggs.

2010 Poetry Award Winner

Amanda Auchter portraitAmanda Auchter is the founding editor of Pebble Lake Review and the author of The Glass Crib, winner of the 2010 Zone 3 Press First Book Award judged by Rigoberto González, and the chapbook Light Under Skin (Finishing Line Press, 2006). A former Theodore Morrison Poetry Scholar for the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, she has received awards and honors from Bellevue Literary ReviewBOMB Magazine, Crab Orchard ReviewCutthroatMid-American Review, and others. She holds an MFA from Bennington College and teaches creative writing and literature at Lone Star College-CyFair.

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