Author Archives: Darian Araiza-Samples

Issue #47 – Special Issue Announcement 

Arts & Letters is pleased to announce that Issue #47 will be published as a special mid-year issue in celebration of the journal’s 25th Anniversary. The 25th Anniversary issue will feature the work of our 2023 Annual Prize Winners (Patricia Grace King, Jonathan VanBallenberghe, and Owen Lewis) and our Unclassifiable Contest Winner (Christy Sheffield Sanford). We are happy to share that Sanford’s “Wreck Tangles of Désirée Acking” will be printed in color for the occasion. The issue will also feature poetry by Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States, and Chelsea Rathburn, current Poet Laureate of Georgia, plus prose by New Hampshire Poet Laureate Alexandria Peary and Flash by Sophia Khan. Issue #47 will be available for purchase in January. We hope you look forward to this special issue as much as we do!

Unclassifiable Contest 2023 Winner and Finalists

The 2023 Unclassifiable Contest has ended, and a winner has been chosen by judge Michael Martone!

Winner: “Wreck Tangles of Désirée Acking” by Christy Sheffield Sanford

A fast-acting, highly combustible and comestible collage, “Wreck Tangles” invoked in me, with its dreadlocks of images and words, a kind of vasovagal syncope, a heady high, that such an arrangement of sight and sound could blow-up my blood pressure, make my heart trill, put me flat on the floor. This fibrillating fiction maps an anatomy of a new novel nerve, the 13th cranial nerve, a twisted caduceus indeed.

Michael Martone

Kelly Houle “Alphabet Shell and Other Poems”

Tom Laichas “Four Pieces”

Ayesha Raees “CYCLE”

Julie Marie Wade “Healthcare Hopscotch: 2001-2011”

Thank you to all who submitted, for stretching our minds and engaging our imaginations! We hope to see your work again next year.

25th Annual Arts & Letters Prize Winners

Announcing the Winners of the 2023 Arts & Letters Prizes in Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, & Poetry:

Arts & Letters Prize for Fiction
Patricia Grace King, “Pax Americana”

“I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Pax Americana.” This story deftly intertwines elements of the interpersonal with larger societal and political narratives to produce a profoundly humane reflection on marriage, politics, youth, and choices, told in an assured and compelling voice.”

– Francesca Ekwuyasi, Judge

Brenda Salinas Baker, “The Apprentice” and Shane Dutta, “Sally’s Daughter”

Susan Atefat Prize for Creative Nonfiction
Jonathan VanBallenberghe, “Winchester Street: Living with My Father’s Suicide”

“Word by word, the author of “Winchester Street: Living with My Father’s Suicide” brings the reader inside the psyche of the narrator’s father, and his decision to end his life. Even more gripping, we also read about the narrator’s own feelings toward suicide—as well as the cultural allure of guns that cause so much destruction. The author’s composed voice underlies the deep trauma of the event. I greatly admire the clear and unsentimental tone as a portal into the depth of feeling this narrative conveys. The writing is stunning, the story urgent, the reflective voice compelling. This essay most assuredly deserves to win.”

– Sue William Silverman, Judge

Tatiana Hollier, “I Am the Ornament of the Sky” and Jaye Murray, “Sentry”

Rumi Prize for Poetry
Owen Lewis, “Something’s Wrong,” “More Than Twice,“ and “Waking Early This New Year’s Day”

“Though there were moments I liked in each of the manuscripts of the finalists, I have chosen this manuscript because this poet was able to sustain, in poems that were about something of real emotional substance, an acute attention to making the language both lovely and telling.”

– Rodney Jones, Judge

Robin Knight, Ari Mokdad, Sammi LaBue, Mark Smith-Soto, David Moolten, and Ruth Kessler

Each winner receives $1000; the winning pieces will appear in an upcoming Issue.