Iowa Review Award winners!

TIR staff

We're thrilled to announce the following winners and runners-up of the 2014 Iowa Review Awards. These essays, stories, and poems will appear in our December 2014 issue. Thanks to all who entered, and thanks to our judges, David Shields (nonfiction), Rachel Kushner (fiction), and Robyn Schiff (poetry).





Winner: Amy Butcher, "Reenacting"

Amy Butcher

Amy Butcher is an essayist whose work appears most recently in The Paris Review online, Tin House online, Gulf Coast, Fourth Genre, Hobart, and Brevity, among others. She earned her MFA from the University of Iowa and teaches courses on the essay at Ohio Wesleyan University. “Reenacting” is an excerpt from her forthcoming memoir, Visiting Hours, to be released by Blue Rider Press/Penguin in April 2015.

Judge David Shields writes, "'Reenacting' contemplates death and memory, the murder of a friend by another friend, a failed suicide attempt, and yet this essay gets at these enormous themes through place, arriving at its most powerful insights through graceful description of Gettysburg reenactments."

Runner-up: Dave Mondy, "How Things Break"

Dave MondyDave Mondy is a writer/performer/producer who has been honored for his work in multiple genres. He was recently selected as the Writer-in-Residence for Randolph College and has received four Solas awards for travel writing. He writes a liquor column for Edible in Tucson, his nationally-toured solo show received the Best Solo Comedy award at the San Francisco Fringe Festival, and his memoir/fiction can be enjoyed in a variety of media—heard on many pubic radio programs, seen online as a commissioned video series for The Smart Set, or read in several literary periodicals. He is a founding member of the collective The Rockstar Storytellers and has also penned comedy for A Prairie Home Companion. Dave recently recieved his MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Arizona. Find him at

Shields writes, "This essay begins as an elegant analysis of a famous photo of Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston, but 'How Things Break' becomes a searing contemplation of Liston’s missed opportunities and the formative role opportunity and chance play, in general."


Maurice Carlos RuffinWinner: Maurice Carlos Ruffin, "The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You"

Maurice Carlos Ruffin is a writer, restaurateur, and attorney. He is a graduate of the Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans and a member of several writing collectives, including the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance and the Melanated Writers of New Orleans, a group dedicated to supporting writers of color. His work has been published in the Apalachee Review, Redivider, Regarding Arts & Letters, 94 Creations, the South Carolina Review, and elsewhere. He is writing a novel. (Photo by Vaugn D. Taylor)

Judge Rachel Kushner writes, "This story grabs and doesn't let go. It telegraphs a host of conflicting sensations, and powerfully: boredom, violence, dreams, an innocence that is free of narrative cliche or any cliche." 

Runner-up: Johanna Hunting, "Queen Elizabeth and Brigitte Bardot"

Johanna Hunting

Johanna Hunting received her MFA from Columbia University. She lives in New York City and is working on a collection of linked stories. 

Kushner writes, "Expertly laid into the arc of this story is all the pain of girlhood, of adolescent cruelty, of the comforts and limits of home to protect. The protagonist is stunningly felt at every turn, and because of this, striking and memorable."




Winner: Helen Klein Ross, "Intensive Care," "Insomnia," "As with Everything in Turkey," "Coach Tour," "Istanbul, 1972"

Helen Klein Ross

Helen Klein Ross's poetry has appeared in The New Yorker and elsewhere and is anthologized in SHORT, a new compendium of prose poems and short prose from Persea Books. Her first novel Making It, was published in March by Simon and Schuster. Her next novel is due out from them in 2015.




Runner-up: Carol Ann Davis, "All in the High Branches," "Back When You Were a Room in which Blue Light Shines," "Sharp Things"

Carol Ann Davis

Carol Ann Davis, recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, has prose or poetry forthcoming or recently out in the Georgia Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and the Southern Review. Her books are Atlas Hour (Tupelo, 2011) and Psalm (Tupelo, 2007). A former longtime editor of Crazyhorse, in 2012 she moved to Connecticut to join the faculty in writing at Fairfield University.

"Choosing the winner and runner-up, I was drawn to the strongly-voiced and atmospheric emotional states each poet expresses in her own music. In 'Insomnia,' Ross creates spare and somewhat understated studies of metaphysical concern by attending to stark, haunting details of the material world, while Davis, in 'Sharp Things,' creates an opulent surface that tends to reach beyond materiality into spiritual emergency. Both poets strike me as students of Elizabeth Bishop, in that concerns raised in Questions of Travel and 'In the Waiting Room' provide a starting point for the explorations these winning poems undertake—whether on a tour bus, awake in bed, or, in the dentist’s chair."

About the Judges

Nonfiction: David Shields is the New York Times bestselling author of sixteen books, including How Literature Saved My Life; Reality Hunger (named one of the best books of the year by more than thirty publications); The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead; Black Planet (finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award); Remote (winner of the PEN/Revson Award); and Salinger (co-written by Shane Salerno). Shields’s work has been translated into twenty languages.

Fiction: Rachel Kushner’s second novel, The Flamethrowers, was a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award, shortlisted for the 2014 Folio Prize, longlisted for the 2014 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, and a New York Times bestseller and Top 10 Book of 2013. Her debut novel, Telex from Cuba, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, winner of the California Book Award, and a New York Times bestseller and Notable Book. Kushner is the only writer ever to be nominated for a National Book Award in Fiction for both a first and second novel. Her fiction and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Paris Review, The Believer, Artforum, Bookforum, Fence, Bomb, and Grand Street. She is the recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship.

Poetry: Robyn Schiff is the author of Revolver and Worth. She is a co-editor at Canarium Books and teaches at the University of Iowa.