contest results

Dana Koster author photo

May 10, 2016
Carolina Wren Press is pleased to announce the winner of the 2016 Carolina Wren Press Poetry Series contest: Binary Stars by Dana Koster.

Binary Stars was chosen from a field of more than 175 entries by Sam Witt, poet and poetry editor for Jaded Ibis Press. Of the work, Sam Witt has written: Binary Stars, the debut book of poems by Dana Koster, is a profoundly moving, lyrically intelligent, and beautifully crafted series of poems, as complex in its metonymic interplay as it is breathtakingly pure in its human and natural moments.  It begins with a stunning question that sets the terms of this lyric universe: “How did we smell it when our heads were screwed / into our helmets?”  As the title suggests, Koster’s poems are expansive and galactic in their metaphoric reach, often engaging human relationships—parent and child, lover and lover—as the movement of heavenly bodies. But they are also equal parts naturalistic and surrealistic.  It’s as though John Donne, Stephen Hawking, and Emily Dickinson have teamed up to write poems.  They also have the delicacy and ecological imprint of a poem by Roethke, with poems like “Hummingbird Heart” operating at the macro, micro, quantum, and planetary level simultaneously:  “As long as you’re in there,” the speaker says to her in utero child, “I have two hearts. This old standard / that rattles my chest and yours– / swooping across the monitor, / little flutter on the screen.”

Dana Koster earned her BA in English from UC Berkeley and MFA in poetry from Cornell University. From 2011-2013, she was a Wallace Stegner Fellow. Koster’s poems have appeared in EPOCH, Indiana Review, Southern Humanities Review, the Cincinnati Review, MUZZLE Magazine, THRUSH Poetry Journal, The Collagist, and many others. She has work in the anthologies Drawn to Marvel: Poems from the Comic Books and More Than Soil, More Than Sky: The Modesto Poets. In 2012, she was awarded a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize. She lives in Modesto, California, with her husband and young sons, where she works as a wedding photographer.

Binary Stars by Dana Koster and Little Domesday Clock by Sam Witt will be published by Carolina Wren Press in 2017.


Congratulations to the winner of the 2015 Doris Bakwin Award for Writing by a Woman, Hola and Goodbye by Donna Miscolta! Carolina Wren Press will publish Hola and Goodbye in 2016.

Wall shot--Donna Miscolta

Donna Miscolta is the author of the novel When the de la Cruz Family Danced. Her story “Ana’s Dance” won the 2013 Lascaux Prize for Short Fiction. Recent work has appeared in Bluestem, Hawaii Pacific Review, Waxwing, and Spartan. Her story “Strong Girls” will appear in Calyx’s 40th-anniversary issue, due out in March 2016. A 2014 recipient of an Artist Trust Fellowship, she has also received awards from 4Culture, the Bread Loaf/Rona Jaffe Foundation, and the City of Seattle, as well as residencies from Anderson Center, Artsmith, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Hedgebrook, Ragdale, and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She lives in Seattle, but grew up in National City, CA. Find out more at


Photo by Carl Jones

Photo by Carl Jones

April 6, 2014

Carolina Wren Press is pleased to announce the winner of the inaugural Lee Smith Novel Prize: Mulberry by Paulette Boudreaux. Mulberry was selected from more than 170 contest entries.

Mulberry is a gripping tale of family crisis and personal strength that focuses on an eleven-year-old girl struggling to keep herself and her family, and her three younger brothers in particular, afloat in smalltown, segregated Mississippi during the early 1960s. “This elegantly written novel marks the powerful debut of an important voice,” says Carolina Wren Press co-director Robin Miura. “I am so pleased that we are able to publish such a talented emerging writer as the winner of the first-ever Lee Smith Novel Prize.”

The purpose of the Lee Smith Novel Prize is to recognize and publish authors living in, writing about, or originally from the U.S. South. “The press sees this prize as a way to acknowledge Lee Smith’s contributions to southern literature as a writer, teacher, and mentor while at the same time working to explore and expand the definition of southern literature,” says Miura.

Paulette Boudreaux is a Mississippi native who now lives in Los Gatos, California. She is a member of the English faculty of West Valley College and has published short stories and novel excerpts in national and international literary journals including Room of One’s Own, Acorn Whistle, Equinox: Writing for a New Culture, In the Margins, and Voices. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University and a master’s in fine arts degree from Mills College.


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