Student entries are read by the faculty of the Creative Writing program, who select a group of eight to twelve finalists in each category. These finalists are then sent onward to a group of outside judges, who decide first, second and third place winners in their respective categories. All judging is anonymous.
This year’s outside judges are:
Single Poem. Noah Falck is the author of Exclusions, You Are In Nearly Every Future and Snowmen Losing Weight. His poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, Literary Hub, Poetry Daily and Poets.org, and have been anthologized in Poem-A-Day: 365 Poems for Every Occasion. Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, he now lives in Buffalo, New York, where he works as Education Director at Just Buffalo Literary Center and curates the Silo City Reading Series, a multimedia poetry event series inside a 130-foot high abandoned grain elevator.
Group of Poems. Cynthia Grier Lotze teaches English at Breck School in Golden Valley, Minnesota. She likes high school sophomores better than anyone else, and in the summer, she enjoys writing poems by the train tracks. Her work has appeared in Makeout Creek, Versal, The Sycamore Review and Smartish Pace, and Corvus Editions will publish her chapbook in the Spring of 2021.
Fiction. Tom De Haven is the author of nineteen books, including the Derby Dugan Trilogy (Funny Papers, Derby Dugan’s Depression Funnies, Dugan Under Ground), the King’s Tramp Trilogy (Walker of Worlds, The End-of-Everything Man, The Last Human), Freaks’ Amour, Jersey Luck, Sunburn Lake, Our Hero: Superman on Earth and It’s Superman! Until retiring in 2018, he taught in the MFA Creative Writing program at Virginia Commonwealth University for 28 years. He created VCU's year-long Novel Workshop and co-founded the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. In 2008-2009, he was writer-in-residence at the College of William & Mary.
Creative Nonfiction. Amira Pierce got her MFA in Fiction at VCU in 2011. She is a senior language lecturer in the Expository Writing Program at NYU, where she specializes in working with International students. She spent Spring 2019 teaching at NYU-Shanghai and, in summer 2019, went to Spain to work on her project, called “Reading the Quran in Madrid,” which has now become “Reading the Quran in the Time of Covid.” She recently had a story published in the anthology The Ordinary Chaos of Being Human: Tales from Many Muslim Lands (Penguin-SEA) and is hard at work on a novel about a young bi-cultural protagonist finding love in a broken world. She was born in Beirut and lives in Brooklyn.
Drama/Screenwriting. Trevor Alper graduated from Ithaca College in 2015, majoring in Television-Radio Production with a minor in Screenwriting. He has worked as a Writers’ Assistant for DAVE and The Big Bang Theory, for which he also co-wrote an episode. In his free time, he writes comedy pilots, shorts and sketches.