Announcing the 2020-2021 Humboldt Poetry Prize Winner & Finalists

The Florida Review is pleased to announce the winner and runners-up for the second annual Humboldt Poetry Prize. The Prize, which is funded by an anonymous donor in honor of Prussian naturalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), recognizes the best poems with an environmental focus published in the previous year in The Florida Review and Aquifer: The Florida Review Online. The winner receives an award of $500, and each runner-up $250.

Alexander von Humboldt as painted by Friedrich Georg Weitsch, c. 1860.

This year’s winner and finalists are:

  • Lizzie Hutton for “Holiday 2,” winner (TFR 44.2, Fall 2020)
  • Margot Douaihy for “The Murder Hornet,” runner-up (Aquifer 7 December 2020)
  • Kimberly Quiogue Andrews for “Animal Spirits,” runner-up (Aquifer 23 November 2020)

The winning poem will be reprinted in Aquifer in April of this year; the runners-up will be reprinted in The Florida Review’s Spring 2022 Issue.

This year’s judge was David Keplinger, author of six collections of poetry; winner of Rilke, T. S. Eliot, Cavafy prizes; the Colorado Book and Emily Dickinson awards; recipient of two NEA fellowships; and Professor of English at American University. He had this to say about the winners and runners-up:

Lizzie Hutton’s “Holiday 2” tells a story both inviting and threatening, of a Christmas on the Gulf of Mexico, somewhere in the “cushioned here and now, these privileged / boundaries.” While this world along the shoreline was lavished with gifts and light and merriment, somewhere else a violence was playing out—which moves the speaker to question, with Darwin, the use of poetry. In the end the thing itself, the poem we have of it, affirms something remarkably poignant about knowing things could be otherwise; how the sun and the holiday, for this knowing, assume a more tenuous fragility in the heart.

In Margot Douaihy’s “The Murder Hornet,” the “efficient killer,” the murder hornet, is compared to the enormity of the speaker’s heart. “Size has its advantages,” the poet writes, but the metaphor deepens, and the poem beautifully complicates, as the pull of addiction is soon revealed to be devouring the speaker, rather than any prey. What is stunning here is the moment “the robin / thought I was a chair or tree,” when, in such a state of peace, the heart of devouring disappears, or it expands and expanding becomes a part of everything.

I admire so much the voice of Kimberly Quiogue Andrews’ “Animal Spirits,” which puts me in mind of certain lines of George Oppen I love—I think of “Route”— and the way, reflecting on the old idea that the brain is the seat of the soul, the poet writes, “The brain a bull. The world a bull with its hooves on the world. // O beast that could be gentle. Asleep in the beige autumn of the shaken head.…” What arises in this poem is simultaneously a sparkling intelligence and a sense of history and responsibility, an awareness of the “grinding sludge of machinery” that follows optimism and enterprise in capitalist societies.

Congratulations to the winner and finalists! More info about the prize and its namesake are below.

The Humboldt Poetry Prize

Each year, one winner and two runners-up will be chosen from work published in The Florida Review and Aquifer: The Florida Review Online during the previous calendar year. Candidates will be identified from all categories of works published—those that stem from general and contest submissions, as well as from solicited work that we have published.

Criteria set for the prize include:

  • Probing the capabilities and needs of wild animals and challenging their exploitation;
  • Exploring wild animal/human relationships;
  • Experimenting with and imagining the subjective life of wild animals;
  • Interrogating the poetic use of animals simply as metaphors;
  • Investigating natural processes, biospheres, and their complexity; and/or
  • Pondering awe in the face of nature and/or how to inspire such awe.

Each winner will receive an award of $500; each runner-up an award of $250. In addition, with each poet’s permission (or that of any subsequent book publisher), the poem will be reprinted. Works originally published in Aquifer will be reprinted in the print Florida Review, and vice versa.

Alexander von Humboldt 

The new prize commemorates the legacy of the visionary German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859). Humboldt’s fascination with natural processes started in childhood, when he earned the nickname “the little apothecary” and continued throughout a fifty-year career as a famous public figure, in which he investigated the fields of botany, minerology, geology, isothermal mapping, meteorology, and geodetic and geomagnetic measurement. During the Napoleonic Wars, he set off to explore Central and South America and, with a French botanist, covered 6,000 miles by foot, horseback, and canoe, studying astronomy, topography, flora and fauna, and the Earth’s geomagnetic field and barometric pressure, as well as mapping 1,700 miles of the Orinoco River. They measured the river phenomenon now known as the Humboldt (or Peru) Current.

Humboldt also succeeded in marrying science and aesthetics, promoting the belief that every element of nature is dynamic and interconnected, and that these forces should be apprehended with both head and heart. In thirty volumes published during his lifetime—and filled with detailed illustrations and lyrical descriptions—Humboldt taught that nature, properly understood, stimulates the imagination as well as the intellect and is a source of beauty and consolation. His close friend Goethe noted that “with an aesthetic breeze” Humboldt lit science in a “bright flame.”

As the first scientist to identify climate zones and view the Earth’s ecology as interconnected and ever-changing, Humboldt anticipated the deleterious impact on wildlife and the biosphere, and he frequently decried the careless environmental destruction of Europe in the colonies. Even as his fame and wealth diminished later in life, Humboldt assisted many young scientists in embarking on their careers. References to his ideas appear hundreds of times in Charles Darwin’s writings, and he profoundly influenced John Muir and generations of conservationists and nature writers.

We at The Florida Review hope to continue to encourage those writers concerned with the human relationship with our planet and with the beauty and power inherent in the Earth in the tradition of the writing of Alexander von Humboldt.


2022 Editors’ Prizes Open for Submission!

The 2022 Editors’ Prizes are now open for submission! The Florida Review accepts, each year between January 1 and April 16, submissions to our three Editors’ Awards contests in Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction.

Each winner receives publication in the journal and $1,000 (upon publication). All entries are considered for publication. The entry fee includes a 1-year subscription to The Florida Review. 

You can find further guidelines and submit your work on our Submittable page.

We’re thrilled to be featuring the 2021 winners and finalists in our upcoming Spring Issue!




“The Archivist,” Austyn Wohlers


“Gifted & Talented,” Clancy Tripp

“Marthe, Once Maria: A Story of Murder,” Ann Harleman



“Good Lands of Mercy,” Lee Gallaway-Mitchell


“Hero Dreams,” Yiming Ma



“Your Bitter Girl,” Morgan English


“Daguerreotype (n.),” John Sibley Williams

“Days of 1985” & “A Boy’s Own Heaven,” David Groff


2021 Pushcart Prize Nominees!

Congratulations to The Florida Review’s nominees for the annual Pushcart Prize!

The Florida Review

Darius Atefat-Peckham, “I Learn a Language I’m Too Afraid to Speak”

Victoria Maria Castells, “Boy Bands”

Jay Hopler, “love & the memory of it”

Katerina Ivanov Prado, “To Be Good”

Arien Reed, “The Ballad of a Married Trans Man”

MH Rowe, “Vampire Swim”

Aquifer: The Florida Review Online 

Jinwoo Chong, “Fish Run”

Ruth Joffre, “Fugues”

Peter Kispert, “The Second Story”

Khalisa Rae, “Full Moon to Monday”

Hannah Stephenson, “Stanley’s Bowl”

Tobey Ward, “Mother Pass”


Jill Talbot Wins the 2021 Leiby Chapbook Award

Jill Talbot

The Florida Review is pleased to announce the winner of the 2020-2021 Jeanne Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award: Jill Talbot, for her short story collection, A Distant Town. 

Talbot’s chapbook will be released in Spring 2022. The contest was judged by Coyote Shook, whose chapbook Coyote the Beautiful was last year’s winner and is available for sale.

Shook had this to say about our winner:

“The stories in A Distant Town stayed with me long after I finished reading them. They felt like familiar songs that break your heart by reminding you of the lonely world they exist in, not unlike Crystal Gale or Johnny Cash playing on the radio as one drives over miles of open highway in a western state. I felt like I’d known the author long before I read their work, as though we’d been patrons of the same Christmas-light-decorated roadside bar for years and tipped our glasses to each other even though we weren’t formally introduced. The motif of music and jukeboxes was fitting for this collection, because when the last words evaporated into my mind, I was eager to fish some quarters out of my pocket and hit play again.”

Jill Talbot is the author of The Way We Weren’t: A Memoir and Loaded: Women and Addiction, the co-editor of The Art of Friction: Where (Non)Fictions Come Together, and the editor of Metawritings: Toward a Theory of Nonfiction. Her writing has appeared in journals such as AGNIBrevityColorado ReviewDiagramGulf Coast, Hotel Amerika, The Paris Review Daily, and The Rumpus and has been recognized four times in The Best American Essays. She is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of North Texas.

The Florida Review congratulates Jill and thanks all the amazing writers who submitted their work. The full list of finalists is below, and the 2021-2022 contest is now open!!


Cole Closser, “Too Many Rooms”

Lena Crown, “Dead Coloring”

Soma Mei Sheng Frazier, “Subnivean”

Eleanor Garran, “Against Appearance”

Amina Gautier, “Breathe”

Mark Keats, “Notes for the Afterlife”

Reyes Ramirez, “Brown Eyes, Silver Screens”

Katherine Seltzer, “Amelia”

Kara Vernor, “More Sex”


2021 Best of the Net Nominations!

We’re delighted to share our nominees for this year’s Best of the Net anthology! Thank you so much to all of the amazing authors and artists who have contributed to Aquifer: The Florida Review Online over the past year. We had so many unbelievable pieces to choose from.


“The Second Story,” by Peter Kispert

”The Addition,” by Marissa Higgins


”Mother Pass,” by Tobey Ward

”Mozzy,” by Marisa Crane


”There They Are,” by JinJin Xu

”Full Moon to Monday,” by Khalisa Rae

”Longing,” by Okwudili Nebeolisa

”Garbage Day,” by Todd Dillard

”The Night My Numbers Tripled,” by Anne Barngrover

“Person of Interest,” by MICHAEL CHANG



Environmental Writing & Art Feature Begins!

Today we launch this fall’s special feature, highlighting environmentally themed writing and visual art across Aquifer: The Florida Review Online and our upcoming print issue 44.2. This feature serves to highlight and celebrate the establishment of our Humboldt Poetry Prize for Environmental Writing.

Twice weekly through the end of December, we will be publishing a different piece of environmental work on Aquifer; our print issue features similarly themed work, alongside our usual eclectic mix of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and graphic narrative. Please consider subscribing to our print magazine if you haven’t already, and check back here as pieces are published on Aquifer every Monday and Wednesday through the end of December.

Schedule of literary features & book reviews to appear in Aquifer (this list will be updated with links on a rolling basis as pieces go live):

Nov. 9: “Notes on Pet Monkeys and How to Manage Them,” Bethany Schultz Hurst

Nov. 11: “Long Marriage” (Parable of the Skull), Doug Ramspeck

Nov. 16: “King Speaking,” Jennifer Perry Steinorth + Richard Widerkehr reviews Patricia Hooper’s Wild Persistence

Nov. 19: “Invasive,” John Sibley Williams + Daniel Lassell interviews Williams

Nov. 23: Two poems, Kimberly Quiogue Andrews + Jada Reyes reviews Andrews’ latest book

Nov 25. “To the Elk,” Jack Cubria

Nov. 30: “Life and Food,” Nayoung Jin + Richard Widerkehr reviews Joseph Strout’s Everything That Rises

Dec. 2: Two poems, John-Michael Bloomquist

Dec. 7: “The Murder Hornet,” Margot Douaihy + Collin Callahan reviews Allison Adair’s The Clearing

Dec. 9: “Evolution Kit,” Mirri Glasson-Darling

Dec. 14: Two poems, Okwudili Nebeolisa

Dec. 16: Three poems, Kelli Agodon

Dec. 21. “The Future is Trashion,” Julie Martin

Dec. 23: Two poems, David Keplinger

Schedule of visual art: 

Nov. 9: David Sapp

Nov. 23: Herlinde Spahr

Dec. 7: Lionel Cruet

Dec. 14: Philana Oliphant

Dec. 21: D.C. Lamothe








Announcing the Winners of the 2020 Editors’ Awards

We’re so pleased to announce the winners and runners-up of our 2020 Editors’ Awards in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. All winners receive $1,000 and publication in The Florida Review; all runners-up also receive publication.

Fiction Winner

“Welcome to the Western Archive of Pre-Awakening Artifacts,” Karyna McGlynn

Fiction Runners-up

”Boy Bands,” Victoria Castells

”Marriage or Wolves,” David Crouse

Nonfiction Winner

“To Be Good,” Katerina Ivanov Prado

Nonfiction Runner-up

“Endurance,” Alison B. Hart

Poetry Winner

”In a Least a Thousand Words,”  “As if,” and “The Maker Misgendered,” Michael Mlekoday

Poetry Runners-up

“strange churches I have known” and “Materland,” Kim Garcia

”White Woman,” Erin Hoover

Congratulations to our winners and finalists, and thank you to  all who entered—it was an incredibly strong field of submissions, and we will be publishing several additional entries in upcoming issues of the journal. Next year’s contest will open in January, 2021, and we look forward to reading more incredible work!



Coyote Shook Wins the 2020 Leiby Chapbook Contest

The Florida Review would like to announce the winner of the 2019-2020 Jeanne Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award: Coyote Shook, for their graphic memoir Coyote the Beautiful. Shook’s chapbook will be released in Spring 2021.

The contest was judged by Lynne Nugent, whose chapbook Nest was last year’s winner and is available for sale.

Nugent had this to say about our winner:

“This visually inventive and emotionally compelling graphic memoir recounts the experiences of a queer writer navigating a fatphobic society and the slights both outright and subtle that have accumulated throughout their life, including gastric bypass surgery and its complications. Interwoven with references to Talullah Bankhead, Emily Dickinson, My Fair Lady, and other cultural touchstones, this memoir indicts a society that demands conformity to beauty standards at any cost. Coyote the narrator is cultured, funny, defiant—someone who is a delight to spend time with.”

Coyote Shook

Coyote Shook is a cartoonist and Appalachian expat living in Austin, Texas. They are a PhD student in American Studies at the University of Texas, Austin, where they study comics-as-research, sonic ecologies, and environmental humanities through a critical disability lens. They’re currently working on two graphic novels: the first, Little Debbie Wept: an Appalachian Gastro-Memoir, is an experimental comic that traces their relationship with food, disability, and transgender identity through recipes in their family’s cookbook, and the second, Yellow Birds: a New England History, is a comics-and-sound study of animals, crip-ecologies, and the ghost of Mary Baker Eddy in Shirley Jackson’s, Anne Sexton’s, and Willa Cather’s archival papers and writings.

They hold an MS in English Education from Fordham University and an MA in Gender Studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison where they completed their first graphic essay: “Crippling Snow: Amputation, Prosthesis, and the Schoolhouse Blizzard of 1888.” They are a Fulbright Scholar (Poland, 2014) and an alumnx of Teach For America. Their comics, essays, and creative writing have appeared in The Wisconsin Review, The North Carolina Folklore Journal, and The Baum Bugle: a Journal of Oz. Most recently, their comic “Flu in the Arctic” was featured by the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era and is included in the National Humanities Center Digital Library.

Coyote writes about Coyote the Beautiful:

“I cannot adequately describe how humbled and astounded I am with this incredible honor, and would like to dedicate Coyote the Beautiful to Anya Krugovoy Silver, my wonderfully wise and deeply missed friend and mentor who first introduced me to Russian fairy tales and taught me how bitterness and sweetness can co-exist within the magnificent untidiness of a human life.”

The Florida Review congratulates Coyote and thanks all the amazing writers who submitted their work for the past year. We are looking forward to reading all the work that writers are submitting for this year’s chapbook award in the genres of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and graphic narrative. We hope you make it just as hard for us to choose this year as you did last year. The 2020-2021 contest is now open.