New Editor at The Florida Review

The Florida Review has had many editors over the nearly 50-year history of its publication. Some have served for as many as nine years, others just one, but every editor has left an indelible mark on the literary legacy of The Florida Review.

It is in this context we announce that after five productive, transformative years—years that saw the launch of an entirely new online journal, Aquifer, on which you read this very post—our current Editor & Director, Lisa Roney, will be stepping down as editor. Our new editor, Jake Wolff, author of The History of Living Forever and Assistant Professor in UCF’s Department of English, will assume the editorship on August 8, 2020.

Reflecting on her time as editor, Lisa Roney shares:

“Over the past five years, it has been a great privilege to be editor-in-chief of The Florida Review and to introduce the new website in 2017 as Aquifer: The Florida Review Online. I’m so pleased with the high quality and diversity of the more than 600 writers and artists we’ve published in that time, and I owe a debt of gratitude to all the genre and special editors who have worked faithfully with me during this time—Kenneth S. Hart, Victoria Campbell, Nicole Oquendo, and Mike Shier especially, without whom I would never have been able to survive much less thrive as we have. Many other book review editors, GTAs, MFA interns, and undergraduate interns have also contributed to the success of the magazine during these years. I’m thrilled that Jake Wolff has agreed to take on the role of editor, as I believe he will both continue the 40+-year tradition of TFR at its finest and add his own innovations as well. Fond farewells!”

From Jake Wolff, on assuming editorship of the magazine:

“I’m very lucky to be inheriting a magazine in such fine condition. Over the past five years, The Florida Review has seen a return to consistent, semi-annual publication; a sleeker, more modern redesign of both its print pages and website; its first piece selected for the Best American series; and a dramatic increase in the amount of money we are able to award writers via our various contests and prizes. I hope to continue the magazine’s commitment to diverse voices, both emerging and established, and to championing all of the authors we publish.

Since I like to consider my own work to be a mashup of various genres and forms, I’ll especially be looking for stories, essays, and poems that cross genre lines or disrupt our notion of genre while still communicating deeply felt, deeply urgent conflicts. But most of all, I just want to publish good work.”

Due to production schedules of print and online magazines, Lisa Roney will be co-editing our forthcoming 44.2 issue due for publication this coming December and leaving her editorial mark on the fine work still to be published throughout the fall on Aquifer.

Bidding the fondest of farewells to Lisa, and the warmest welcome to Jake here at The Florida Review.


New Humboldt Environmental Poetry Prize

The Florida Review is pleased to announce a new award focused on poetry with environmental themes and concerns. An anonymous donor is providing funding for the new Humboldt Poetry Prize in honor of Prussian naturalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859). A winner and two runners-up will be chosen each year from work published in the previous year in The Florida Review and Aquifer: The Florida Review Online. Each winner will receive an award of $500, and each runner-up $250.


2019-2020 Recipients

We are also pleased to announce our first-ever winner and runners-up for the Humboldt Poetry Prize:

  • Bethany Schultz Hurst for “Notes on Pet Monkeys and How to Handle Them,” winner (TFR 2, Fall 2019)
  • Doug Ramspeck for “Long Marriage (Parable of the Skull),” runner-up (TFR 2, Fall 2019)
  • Jacqui Zeng for “Natural Order,” runner-up (Aquifer 25 February 2019)

Bethany Schultz Hurst.     Doug Ramspeck.     Jacqui Zeng by Milton Velez Photography.

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. About the winning poem, he had the following to say:

Bethany Schultz Hurst’s exquisite response to an 1888 colonialist manual on the “management” of captured animals uses the erasure form in concert with the rigor and formal limitations of the sonnet to study the mistreatment, ailments, and murder (“with an iron bar a sharp and heavy blow”) of the monkey transplanted from its natural environment into a human menagerie, and whose existence there plays out like some profane translation of a sacred text. In the final sonnet in this sequence, the skinning and posturing of the dead conclude with the instruction to “Keep him in full light.” What a brilliant use of artifice to reverse that spell; to bring atrocity to light; to classify the crimes of colonialism; to speak out against what Empire has enacted in the name of power and spectacle.


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.

The Florida Review was chosen by the donor to administer the Humboldt Poetry Prize due to our long-standing commitment to and appreciation of poetry along environmental themes. We hope that the existence of the prize will encourage even more and stronger submissions of such work, but we chose not to create a separate submissions category for it because we hope not to segregate such submissions. Writers should feel free to identify in their cover letters whether they believe their work includes an environmental component. But all work must first be considered alongside our other submissions and published in the journal before it will be considered for the Humboldt Poetry Prize. Poems will be selected based on the criteria listed above, and an external judge will be selected by the editors to make final decisions.

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.

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


The Florida Review and Aquifer Author Publications: July 2020

Small literary magazines are integral parts of our writing community, allowing emerging and experienced writers to push their work forward with new experiments in self-expression and creative freedom. Our writers make up that essential part of literary magazines, and we welcome their work and help build writers’ opportunities. Here at The Florida Review, we love to celebrate the successes of our published authors. We encourage you to support the new books of these writers, who have been previously published in our print magazine and/or our online magazine, Aquifer.


Dilruba Ahmed (“’With Affirmative Action and All’” and “View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack: Mortality Reel,” Aquifer July 4th, 2017 and Editors’ Award for “Fever,” “Mojlishpur,” and “Clear Water,” TFR 31.2) has a new book of poems, Bring Now the Angels, from the Pitt Poetry Series.

Mary Pauline Lowry (“Texas Teeth,” TFR 42.2) has a new book out as of April 2020. The Roxy Letters (Simon & Shuster) is Lowry’s second novel.

Michael Hettich (“Shark Valley” and “Love Poem,” Aquifer July 12, 2018; “The Light of Ancient Stars,” TFR 40.2; and “Crows,” TFR 31.2) has a new collection of poems, To Start an Orchard, out from Press 53.

Ariel Francisco’s (“On the Eve of the Largest Hurricane Ever Recorded My Ex Tells Me She Hopes I Don’t Die and, I Mean, Whatever,” TFR 42.2) collection of poetry, A Sinking Ship Is Still a Ship, is out in spring 2020 from Burrow Press.

Paige Lewis (Editors’ Award 2016 with “Angel, Overworked” in TFR 41.1) has her first collection of poetry, Space Struck, out from Sarabande Books.

John Sibley Williams (“Hekla (Revised),” TFR 42.1) won the Orison Poetry Prize, and his collection of poetry, As One Fire Consumes Another, was published by Orison Books in 2019. We have an interview with him and another poem forthcoming in Aquifer later this month.

Miriam Cohen (“Recess Brides,” TFR 40.1) recently released her first collection of stories, Adults and Other Children, from Ig Publishing, including a reprint of “Recess Brides.”


2019 Pushcart Prize Nominations

We are so excited to announce our 2019 Pushcart Prize Nominations for The Florida Review and Aquifer! Congratulations to the nominees!

Pushcart Prize Nominations for TFR
Amanda Hawkins, “/in the year of salt and death/” (43.1)
Nahal Suzanne Jamir, “That He Had a Father” (43.1)
Jayson Iwen, “Body: Luke & Acts” (43.2)
Hadara Bar-Nadav, “[Your mind is night]” (43.2)
Kass Fleisher, “When They’re Two” (43.2)
Jessica Treadway’s “Infinite Dimensions” (43.2)

Pushcart Prize Nominations for Aquifer
Richard Froude, “Some Trees: An Incidental Elegy”
Trinity Tibe, “Father Tongue”
Luke Johnson, “This is what it looks like, son”
Thomas Barnes, “Delivery”
Afua Ansong, “Things You Left in Accra before Moving to the Bronx”
July Westhale, “Milk Glass Serenade”


Erasure Special Feature Begins!

We’ve now launched this fall’s special feature, highlighting innovative hybrid and erasure work across Aquifer: The Florida Review Online and our upcoming print issue 43.2. Twice weekly through December 26, 2019, we will be publishing a different piece of erasure work on Aquifer, with each taking advantage of the web-native format that enables us to publish genre-bending work we simply couldn’t present accurately in print. Our print issue, no less innovative (though maybe less colorful), will feature even more erasure work that challenges the norm and speaks to the topical origins and traditions of this resilient form. Be sure to subscribe to our print magazine as soon as possible if you haven’t already, and check back here as pieces are published on Aquifer every Monday and Thursday through the end of December.

Over the past fifty years, erasure has come to be known as a (mainly) poetic technique that both connects the writer/reader with an original text and also questions and transforms it, sometimes evokes a completely contrary meaning. As a form, it draws attention to writing as a “physical” object (or, more recently, as a digital object) and makes us aware of how all writings’ meanings can shift and change with varied attention and assumptions. It connects us to our literary and extra-literary writing and visual arts traditions while creating a contemporary engagement with subjects and words from works both ancient and recent. We are pleased to present in Aquifer and the print Florida Review a wide range of erasure techniques from blacking out, crossing out, blanking out, painting out, burning out, and creating collages from original material both written and visual.

Aquifer Erasure Publication Schedule:

(Links inactive until posted publication date at 8:00AM, EST)

Selections from VIOLETS” by Austin Rodenbiker – Live 11/11
The Mueller Report, Vol. 2, Page 147 Fairy Tale” by Ronnie Sirmans – Live 11/14
“Of extinction” by Holly Burdorff – Live 11/14 (in our Multimedia Features)
November Nineteenth [On Erasure]” by Amanda Moore – Live 11/18
Seduction” by Lynn Domina – Live 11/21
Wory Gardn” by Harrison Candelaria Fletcher – Live 11/25
Plum Trees, Astray, Verso, A Little Croquis, and Snow Still” by Jayne Guertin – Live 11/28
Two Erasures” by Zebulon Huset – Live 12/02
To All Whom It May Concern” by Julie Jones – Live 12/05
Four computer-generated erasures” by S Cearley – Live 12/09
Insect Erasures” by Jaime Zuckerman – Live 12/12
Three Poems from Time Life’s North American Wilderness Series” by Allyson Young – Live 12/16
Season Cluster” by Sara Biggs Chaney and Michael Chaney – Live 12/19
Two Bible Stories” by Caleb Curtiss – Live 12/23
Healthful Living” by Maud Kelly – Live 12/26

Forthcoming Erasures in 43.2 of The Florida Review:

Sea Poems by C. R. Resetarits
“[your mind is night],” “[The animal is chemical carnivorous sick],” “Read this each time you],” and “[Life eats breath]” by Hardara Bar-Nadev
“Seance” by Jay Barnica
2 poems from Each Leaf by Anna Lena Phillips Bell
“In the house of” by John Bonanni
“Jefferson’s Secret Message to Congress (Redacted)” by Alan Elyshevitz
“Self-Erasure for My Mother” by Amanda Hadlock
“Notes on Pet Monkeys and How to Manage Them” by Bethany Shultz Hurst
“Body: Luke & Acts” by Jayson Iwen
“Come Gentle” and “Come Hollow” by Carolyn Janecek
“Apollo & Daphne” by Eva Della Lana
“Boys, Boss” by Kristine Langley Mahler
“After a Death” and “Allegro” by Kelly Nelson
“Hell’s Our Destination” by David Rachels
“My Girlfriend Asks if I Think I’ll Ever Stop Writing about My Ex” and “Ars Poetica in War Time Which for Us Means Always” by Dujie Tahat



Lynne Nugent Wins the 2019 Leiby Chapbook Contest

The Florida Review would like to announce the winner of the 2018-2019 Jeanne Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award: Lynne Nugent, for her collection of creative nonfiction shorts, Nest. Nugent’s collection will be released at AWP in 2020. Final judge Phong Nguyen had this to say about our winner:

Nest achieves what many essay collections seek to accomplish: it causes the reader to see the world with new eyes. By drawing upon the raw material of motherhood, the author uses this eternal verity and imbues it with her highly idiosyncratic reality, without ever forcing revelations onto this universal subject. The insights that emerge from her telling feel at once natural, inevitable, and sui generis.

Lynne Nugent is the managing editor of The Iowa Review. Her personal essays have been published in the North American Review, Brevity, the New York Times, Full Grown People, Mutha Magazine, and Hippocampus Magazine.

Author Lynne Nugent
Author of Nest, Lynne Nugent

She noted about Nest:

I wrote most of the essays in Nest on my phone while breastfeeding or holding a sleeping baby, intoxicated by love and pheromones but also exhausted and bored, and swinging between those two emotional extremes and needing an outlet. Given the constraints of this kind of writing process, most of them are flash essays, and the overall length of the manuscript is pretty lightweight. Rather than push myself to fit some idea of how long an essay or a book can be, I took inspiration from Sarah Ruhl’s 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write, in which she embraces the fragmentary and incomplete thoughts that can result from motherhood and, well, just life… One thing I didn’t anticipate was the positive reaction to writing a chapbook, not in spite of but because of its brevity: a friend who was also a new mom said, “Thank you for writing something I will actually have time to read.” So the benefits can be to both reader and writer. I see Nest as a product of a moment—technology, feminism, creativity, and ambition, all intersecting with the eternal needs and rhythms of life, especially for those of us involved in taking care of other humans.

We would also like to announce our semi-finalists: My Tran for her three flash fiction pieces, “eleven,” “thirteen,” and “seventeen,” from “My father is housed in a whale,” and Angelo R. Lacuesta and Roy Allen Martinez for their graphic narrative, “Bedweather.” A second short piece by Angelo R. Lacuesta and artist Shaira Luna, “Triple Phantasy,” will appear in Aquifer: The Florida Review Online.

Once again, we would like to say thank you to all the amazing writers who submitted their work for the past year. We are looking forward to reading and seeing 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 2019-2020 contest is now open.


Meek Awards for 2018!

We’re happy to announce the winners of our Meek Awards for the 2018 publication year. Congratulations to all of these artists and writers whose work was chosen from among all the work we publish from general submissions–these works are not from contests or solicitations, but straight out of the “slush pile,” and they represent some of the finest work we published last year. We’re thrilled to be able to compensate some of our writers through a generous donation. This year’s winner are:

Poetry—Alana de Hinojosa, “Sombras nada mas” (42.2)

Fiction—Janelle Garcia, “A Warning” (Aquifer)

Creative Nonfiction—Christopher Citro, “Root That Mountain” (42.2)

Graphic Narrative—Peter Witte, “After Kafka” (Aquifer)

Digital Media—Mark Keats, “Surnames” (Aquifer)

Short Film—Gloria Chung, “MEMORY  VI: An Ostrich’s Eye Is Bigger Than Its Brain” (Aquifer)

Visual Art—Michael Hower, “Redemption” (Aquifer)

We’re publishing more great work all the time, and we extend our appreciation to all of our writers and submitters. Keep up the great work!


The Meek Awards NEW at TFR

We’re a bit late in getting this news on the website, but we’re proud to announce that a new donor has made it possible for us to select one author or artist (or to split the award between two) in each of our publication categories each year. These writers and artists are some of those who come to us through general submissions rather than contests or other means. At The Florida Review, we recognize that writers deserve to be paid for their work, and, though it remains financially impossible for us to provide remuneration for every writer and artist, we are happy that now every writer who submits to The Florida Review and Aquifer has at least the possibility.

For the inaugural 2017 year, we selected the following writers and artists for this special recognition. They represent the kind of work we love to publish at The Florida Review and Aquifer–both personally moving and aware of the wider world.

  • Esteban Rodriguez (“Roadside,” 41.2) and Sherrie Fernandez-Williams (“the crossing,” Aquifer) for poetry
  • Laura Farnsworth (“Salvio: A Short Story,” Aquifer) for fiction
  • Re’Lynn Hansen (“The Han Gan,” 41.1) for nonfiction [also recipient of recognition as a Notable Essays in The Best American Essays 2018]
  • Aubrey Hirsch (“The Language of Trauma,” 41.1) for graphic narrative
  • Hannah Kaplan (“Dear Doctor,” Aquifer) for digital/electronic story
  • Jave Yoshimoto (“Meditation on the Purpose of Art Making,” Aquifer) for visual art

Congratulations to these and all of the other wonderful writers and artists we publish. In 2018, we will be adding a winner in the short film category as well, and look for that announcement sooner than November!


MR Sheffield Publishes Debut Book

The Florida Review is thrilled to share that MR Sheffield, one of our authors, has just published her first poetry collection: Marvels. Sheffield’s fiction piece “The Geometry of Children” was a Jeanne Leiby Chapbook Contest finalist and featured in our print issue 37.1 from summer 2012. When asked about being published in The Florida Review, Sheffield said:

I was thrilled to be a part of such an esteemed publication. As a chapbook finalist, part of my prize was getting to attend the [Sanibel] writers’ conference. It was just a fabulous experience—it was the first time I felt like a writer. While I’ll probably never be completely rid of self-doubt, publishing my story helped me see that I might actually have something to say.

Since she had been published in The Florida Review, Sheffield noted a sense of legitimacy that was gained for her as a writer and outlined what she sees as the role of small literary magazines:

They are the rich earth wherein stories, poems, and essays can take root. They give emerging authors a place to grow from. Small literary magazines also shape contemporary literature. We can see where trends are going through what pops up in these publications.

As far as whether her life has changed as a writer now with the release of Marvels, Sheffield said:

Again, I’ve had this fleeting sense of legitimacy. I actually do love this little book. It’s weird and complicated and in some ways it’s indistinguishable from me. I love that it will exist outside of me. My dad passed away last year, and this book feels like another scattering of his ashes.

Marvels can be pre-ordered from Sundress Publications here.


2018 Pushcart Nominations

Please join us in celebrating the following writers and their work, which we’ve nominated for the Pushcart Prize this year. It’s always hard to choose from all the excellent work we are honored to publish, but these stood out to us for their fresh insights into the current social moment in which we live.

  • Renée Branum, “Bolt” (42.1, winner of our 2016 Editors’ Award in Nonfiction)
  • Natalie Disney, “Blind Field” (42.1, fiction)
  • Tony Hoagland, “Feeling Generous” (42.1, poetry)
  • Brian Kearney, “American Jumble 2” (42.2, graphic narrative)
  • Raven Leilani, “The Void Witch” (Aquifer, fiction)
  • Robert Wrigley, “Horses” (42.1, poetry)