Contest Judges Discuss the Winners of the 2012 Iowa Review Awards

TIR staff

We are pleased to be soon publishing the winners of the 2012 Iowa Review Awards! Look for them in our forthcoming Winter 2012-13 issue. Many thanks to all who entered and to our 2012 judges, Megan Daum (nonfiction), Timothy Donnelly (poetry), and Ron Currie, Jr. (fiction). Below, our judges discuss what stood out to them about the pieces they chose.


Congratulations to

Winner Emily Hunt 

and Runner-up Aditi Machado


On the winners:

Much of what there is to love about rhythm is beautifully showcased in Emily Hunt's poetry: its capacity to hold together a poem that's conducted by intuition and association, the way it induces a soft and especially welcome hypnosis, and its ancient power to distinguish poetry from other, more soluble kinds of language use.  I've read these astonishing poems, particularly "Figure the Color of the Wave She Watched," with tremendous admiration, swells of feeling, and over and over again.

Aditi Machado's poems, like Emily Hunt's, impressed me with the apparent ease with which they articulate a kind of waking dream state. I love the slightly impersonal, bemused but cerebral tone of these poems, and how their speakers, like persons moving through an enchantment, appear unthreateningly but wholly captivated by what unfolds in front of them, as if they can sense that the solution to some great mystery is just about ready to manifest itself. I particularly admire the masterful syntax and lineation of the long last sentence at the end of the remarkable "Walk Through Eucalyptus Lane."

—Timothy Donnelly


Congratulations to

 Winner Bernadette Esposito

and Runner-up Marcela Sulak


On the winners:

"The Principle of the Fragility of Good Things" [by Bernadette Esposito] combined research, rumination and existential inquiry into a thought provoking pastiche. I appreciated the way the author struck a balance between dispassionate reporting and deep human feeling.

"Getting a Get" [by Marcela Sulak] was sad, funny and relatable, even to those who've never gotten a get (or don't get what a get is!) I found the author charming and real, with a voice that seems to speak directly to the reader.

—Meghan Daum


Congratulations to 

Winner Kyle Minor

and Runner-up Emily G. Martin


On the winners:

My tastes tend toward the dark, and "Seven Stories about Kenel of Koulèv-Ville" [by Kyle Minor] is genuinely beautiful shadow play, a fever dream of humanity caught in the grip of catastrophes both natural and man-made. It succeeds at that most difficult of narrative tricks--the nearly impossible task of creating, in a few short pages, a whole world for the reader to inhabit.  One feels black magic lurking in the margins of this story. It reads like a fable, but the people who inhabit it are quite real, and their tragedies and dark humor are deeply affecting.

What a strange and wonderful story "Claude Piron Beholds his Beloved" [by Emily G. Martin] is, a kaleidoscopic, staccato narrative that at first baffles, then slowly and expertly begins to reveal its secrets, and more importantly its heart, to the reader. "Claude Piron" also enjoyed, in my mind, the distinction of having the best final line of all the stories--brief, plain, and gorgeous, a single line of text standing in beautiful relief against all that blank white page.

—Ron Currie, Jr.