The 2018 Gulf Coast Prize

Announcing the Winners of the 2018 Gulf Coast Prizes

Fiction Winner:
"Rules of Engagement" by Mi-Kyung Shin

Honorable Mentions:
"The Bridge" by Pankaj Challa
"Cocodrie" by Anna Marschalk-Burns

From the judge, Joshua Ferris: 

"There were several stand-outs in the many stories I read for Gulf Coast's Prize in Fiction for 2018. I liked especially 'Cocodrie' for its unsparing account of the challenges of motherhood when adulthood alone is enough to contend with. The runner-up of this year's prize is 'The Bridge,' for its playful, Chekhovian account of a migrant in a hostile land, its gentle sense of humor and its great animating energy on behalf of those who live hungry, poor and self-sabotaging.

And this year's Gulf Coast Prize in Fiction goes to 'Rules of Engagement' for its subtle and sexually frank depiction of a woman at a crossroads between her younger, more vulnerable self and a more sophisticated but ultimately disaffected version that risks plummeting her headlong into cynicism and despair. This is a very confident and surprising story that deserves a wide readership.
Thank you to all who submitted. Never quit."

Mi-Kyung Shin grew up in South Korea, Switzerland, and the US. She works as a translator and an editor. Currently, she lives in New York City. She earned her MFA in Writing from Columbia University.

Poetry Winner:
“Church Board Interrogations” by Josh Tvrdy

Honorable Mentions:
"Drowning" by Sara Fetherolf
"Self Portrait as Daughter Stuffed with a Sack of Pomegranates” by Osel Jessica Plante

From the judge, Chen Chen:

"'Church Board Interrogations' astonishes and manages to sustain that astonishment across three long sections. In each section, often in each stanza, the language shifts from funny to serious to funny—sensually absurd and uncompromisingly queer. Instead of the 'straightforward answers, please' that the italicized and increasingly exasperated interrogator seeks, the speaker offers oddball images and oddballier futures."
Josh Tvrdy was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. He received a BA in Creative Writing at Knox College, where he coached Cross Country and Track & Field upon graduation. A fellow at the Bucknell Seminar for Undergraduate Poets, he will begin pursuing an MFA in Poetry at North Carolina State University in the fall of 2018. 

Non-Fiction Winner:
"Blessed Be the Longing that Brought You Here" by Jessie van Eerden

Honorable Mentions:
"Trash Honey" by Christine Adams
"Juglans Nigra" by Dawn Newton

From the judge, Lacy M. Johnson:

“'Blessed Be the Longing that Brought You Here' is a incisive, funny, and deeply moving essay that raises questions about the emotional, spiritual, and physical purpose of longing — the ways in which the experience of longing is a tether between ourselves and others, between ourselves and the world. In this dark moment when it seems all tethers are unraveling, this essay stirred me to my core." 

Jessie van Eerden is author of two novels, Glorybound (WordFarm, 2012), winner of the Foreword Editor’s Choice Fiction Prize, and My Radio Radio (Vandalia Press, 2016), as well as the essay collection The Long Weeping (Orison Books, 2017), winner of the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award in the essay category. Her work has appeared in Best American Spiritual Writing, Oxford American, Willow Springs, and other publications. Jessie holds an MFA in nonfiction from the University of Iowa and directs the low-residency MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College.