We are beyond thrilled to announce the winners of the first annual Marystina Santiestevan First Book Prize and the first annual Minds on Fire Open Book Prize, but before that we would like to express our sincere gratitude and admiration to all who entrusted their labor of love to us. It was an honor.

Two books stood out among a crowd of excellent manuscripts, and we couldn’t be happier. The two winning manuscripts, although quite different from one another, share several remarkable qualities. Both demonstrate a mastery of language, making it fresh and crisp without sacrificing sense; both bristle with real human emotion; and both offer authenticity, humor, and wisdom. It is both a pleasure and a shot-in-the-arm to witness such supple minds working to discover new worlds and new meanings.

And without further ado, the winners are…

Marystina Santiestevan First Book Prize

Minds on Fire Open Book Prize



Michelle Lewis

Animul/Flame was selected as the winner of the first annual Marystina Santiestevan First Book Prize by judge Bob Hicok. Lewis uses language, both strange and familiar, to create an enchanted world full of shadows and poems that read like fables for the future. A raw, explicit, and personal book that conjures the dark, the mysterious, and the mythological.


This is the book that wouldn’t let go of me.
— Bob Hicok
This extraordinary debut is the voice we’ve been afraid to hear. She survives the ruin, the night, and we survive through her.
— Joshua Poteat
Animul/Flame is charged by an emotional integrity that yields exacting bite and insight. This is a marvelous debut.
— Terrance Hayes

The Last Note Becomes
Its Listener

Jeffrey Morgan

The Last Note Becomes Its Listener was selected as the winner of the first annual Minds on Fire Open Book Prize. This book ruminates on a brother's epilepsy, his disability, how living with the poet's family affects them all, and especially the limits of empathy. Morgan's greatest talent lies in his ability to render the quotidian into the extraordinary with ease and sincerity.


Jeffrey Morgan’s new collection hums in a sweeping timbre filled with consolations and intimacies....Turn after remarkable turn, Morgan’s poems fill the page with music and the longing for music in the spaces between.
— Oliver de la Paz
The Last Note Becomes Its Listener translates the world into language with astonishing precision and clarity, offering a vision that’s peculiarly hyperfocused...This is a wise and playful and moving book—startling in its powers of observation, lush with postmodern shimmering.
— Wayne Miller

Congratulations, Michelle and Jeffrey!

The editor would like to thank everyone who helped with the project especially those whose names that don’t appear on our masthead: Terri Ford and Kath Jesme, who read manuscripts until their hearts content and then some; Scott Bruno, the designer with the mad skills and the exquisite taste; and, of course, our friend and collaborator, Bob Hicok. Thank you! We couldn’t have done without you. Seriously, we couldn’t have done it.