We are pleased to present the winners of the 2021 Porch Prize! Judges in the three categories for 2021 were as follows: David James Poissant (Fiction), Aimee Nezhukumatathil (Creative Nonfiction), and Maggie Smith (Poetry). For information on the 2022 Porch Prize, please visit porchtn.org in Fall 2021 for updated information.
2021 Porch Prize in Poetry Winner:
Rina Kenney, “The Great Hunger”
Finalists: Amber Albritton, Sandee Gertz, Laura Roth, Ruth Youn
Poetry Judge: Maggie Smith
Maggie Smith is the author of Good Bones, The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, Lamp of the Body, and the national bestseller Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change. Her latest collection of poems, Goldenrod, will be released in July 2021. Smith’s poems and essays are widely published and anthologized, appearing in Best American Poetry, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, the Washington Post, the Guardian, and elsewhere. In 2016 her poem “Good Bones” went viral internationally and has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. Public Radio International called it “the official poem of 2016.”
2021 Porch Prize in Fiction Winner:
Bonnie Blaylock, “Light to the Hills”
Finalists: Amelia Dirks, Wilmoth Foreman, Liza Jones, Carey Olney
Fiction Judge: David James Poissant
David James Poissant is the author of the story collection The Heaven of Animals, in print in five languages, winner of the GLCA New Writers Award and a Florida Book Award, longlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His stories and essays have appeared in The American Scholar, The Atlantic Monthly, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, One Story, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and in numerous anthologies including New Stories from the South, Best New American Voices, and Best American Experimental Writing. A recipient of scholarships and fellowships from the Bread Loaf, Sewanee, Tin House, Wesleyan, and Longleaf writers’ conferences, he teaches in the MFA program at the University of Central Florida and lives in Orlando with his wife and daughters. His debut novel, Lake Life, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2020.
2021 Porch Prize in Creative Nonfiction Winner:
Aria Dominguez, “Guide to the Flora of Costa Rica”
Finalists: Jessica Burdg, Marilyn Mox, Bryn Gribben, Emily Heick
Creative Nonfiction Judge: Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Aimee Nezhukumatathil (neh-ZOO / KOO-mah / tah-TILL) is the author of the New York Times best-selling illustrated collection of nature essays and Kirkus Prize finalist, WORLD OF WONDERS: IN PRAISE OF FIREFLIES, WHALE SHARKS, & OTHER ASTONISHMENTS (2020, Milkweed Editions), which was chosen as Barnes and Noble’s Book of the Year. She has four previous poetry collections: OCEANIC (Copper Canyon Press, 2018), LUCKY FISH (2011), AT THE DRIVE-IN VOLCANO (2007), and MIRACLE FRUIT (2003), the last three from Tupelo Press. Her most recent chapbook is LACE & PYRITE, a collaboration of epistolary garden poems with the poet Ross Gay. Her writing appears twice in the Best American Poetry Series, The New York Times Magazine, ESPN, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, and Tin House.
Honors include a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pushcart Prize, a Mississippi Arts Council grant, and being named a Guggenheim Fellow in poetry. In 2021, she became the first-ever poetry editor for SIERRA magazine, the story-telling arm of The Sierra Club. She is professor of English and Creative Writing in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.