PREVIOUS SUBNIVEAN AWARDS WINNERS
How remarkable and original this story is. It begins with the narrator’s joy at going deeper into “the wild,” enchanted by a knowing guide, and takes us to a spot where knowledge gives out. The writing feels both folkloric and modern and has surprises at every turn. (I won’t soon forget the bats with wings that feel like “petals”—or the guide’s subterfuges, his porous expertise.) And it’s a great use of the short form, with its bits of dialogue rolling into the ultimate high-drama. Abundant talent is evident here—and no fear in dealing with large themes.
— Joan Silber, 2023 Subnivean Awards Final Judge, on Quinn's winning story
Across the range of these poems (I felt I was traveling them like a range of mountains) I find beauty, sadness, ferocity, different geographies and formal structures, and also something intangible, that bit of music in the air. But imagine Stravinsky being played by a street performer, or the ashes left after a devastating fire, or the ruins of a relationship between friends, lovers, or parent and child. Something in these poems knows how to identify loss, map it, make of the unspeakable mysteries of our lives, something real and understandable. I can't think of a more valuable quality for poetry to have.
— Kazim Ali, 2023 Subnivean Awards Final Judge, on Qi's winning poems
Elegantly readable, surprising and thought-provoking throughout—a bracing read for these lousy capitalist times.
— Daniel "Lemony Snicket" Handler, 2022 Subnivean Awards Final Judge, on Swiss's winning story
This is a lightning bolt cracklin’ through the streets, breaking in and breaking out of the cement & walls, voices & page-shimmies of the the people singin’ and rhymin’, doin’ and becoming One. There are ghosts and kids w/o names, rappers & X’s, unknowns & pains & suffering, melodies from the wounded, hearts spilling & voices ascending & Whitman everywhere saying everything & huggin’ everyone, high & low & there’s a map you can follow as it fades away, as your perception attempts to grasp a zillion realities. You feel the bodies because you hear the bodies because you will find meaning everywhere. Pennies and bullets is the name of the Boulevard, empty cop cars and dead animals—and, yet, there is joy sweating out of this journeying text and it’s multiple panels, voice-elevators and trauma & beauty menus. Enter this multi-neighborhood of multi-selves and texts, grab the atoms if you can touch them, find the Cha-Cha-Cha’s, find the lines smoothin’ everything you have been missing in America—it is here, in the hands of this most talented poet, of these shattering episodes, scenes, jams, riffs, bongós clappin’ fast as you walk by to the beat of “I’m the capital T in TEACH,”an explosive debut of a most kind, non-stop, knowing writer.
— U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, 2022 Subnivean Awards Final Judge, on Holguin's winning poems
"You should talk to someone” captures the essential strangeness of being human, how the ordinary and even tedious details of daily life are forever linked to the overwhelming mysteries and yearning secrets that shadow us. This is a beautiful, thoughtful, weird little piece. My hat is off.
— Daniel Handler
"Still Life" depicts a young, Chinese American woman's journey. I enjoyed being allowed into the intimacy of this fictional family's life through its relationship with language and belonging/not belonging. The writer has a fresh, authentic voice which invites the reader to develop a building awareness along with the character.
Joanne is a single mother of a young daughter who works among immigrants, including a frustrated, tyrannical boss who never achieved his artistic dreams. Joanne gains insights into her own awareness and takes us by the hand as she explores her reactions, memories of her life and develops an understanding of the cultural context that informs her experience and the reader gets to absorb it. "Still Life" is an authentic review of a young, Chinese American woman's life experiences and the writer makes us privy to this inquiry. It is an honest and vulnerable exploration that is worthy of attention.
I have a sense that the writer has offered me a gift from her heart and I appreciate that. This is a writer who has demonstrated such potential that I want to keep an eye out to see how she evolves.
— April Sinclair
Chaun’s poems were such a pleasure to read! I loved their dexterity, the narrative movement, the polyvocal structures, and the blending and reimagining of poetic forms. Chaun’s work pushes and asks again what a poem can do, what can it be — and what is true through the crafting of these poems is that their poetry makes beautiful and nuanced gardens for us to enter and be floral with ourselves.
— Arisa White