Winners of the 2024 Iowa Review Awards

TIR Staff

The results are in: we are very excited to announce the winners of the 2024 Iowa Review Awards! The work of the winners will be published in our Winter 2024/2025 issue. Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest, and a huge thank you to our contest judges:  Sequoia Nagamatsu (fiction), Sarah Viren (nonfiction), and Terrance Hayes (poetry). Meet our winners:


Winner: Valentina Rivera-Lies, “Ratones”

Valentina Rivera-Lies

Judge comments: “'Ratones' is a story of childhood realizations and the competing socio-economic realities that become all too apparent just beyond the borders of the world's resort destinations. It’s a story of place and belonging. It is a story of harsh lessons that might make your face burn hot with shame and regret and knowledge. I was immediately pulled into the innocence of the focal children and the myths they had created for themselves about what resided beyond their neighborhood. Evocatively written with deft and masterful character choices that embraced both the hope and reality when thinking of all that could be possible in a life.”

Valentina Rivera-Lies is a Mexican and Bolivian American writer from Lawrence, Kansas. She holds a Masters in Latin American Studies from the University of Kansas and is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Arizona. She lives in Tucson with her husband and their two dogs.


Runner-up: Luc Le, “American Boy”

Luc Le

Judge comments: “Lyrical and kaleidoscopic, 'American Boy' invites the reader into a lifetime of identities from disability and chronic illness to sexual and romantic exploration. There is a wonderful assurance to the voice as the narrative skips throughout time, following the narrator through less certain moments. Expertly weaving through every passage is generational trauma and heritage that not only develops a sense of character and family but how every moment of a life has been haunted by the ghosts of the past.”

Luc Le is an MFA candidate at the University of California, Davis. He lives in West Sacramento with his cat, Ophelia. 



Winner: Lucy McBee, “Light"

Lucy McBee

Judge comments: "'Light' is a perfect essay, one that surprises, but never tricks; an essay aware of itself that never allows that awareness to overtake the story being told; an essay both urgent and perfectly planned. The writing is vivid and alive, and the thought within that writing a firebomb."

Lucy McBee is an editor and ghostwriter living in Austin, Texas. Her (non-ghostwritten) work has appeared in Indiana Review, New Letters, and The Pinch.





Runner-up: Christian Bodney, “The Velvet Underground & Nico”

Christian Bodney

Judge comments: “I read 'The Velvet Underground & Nico' in the same way I once listened to my favorite albums: moving through the essay in order at first, and then returning to individual tracts, or sections, for their story but also for the experience of a specific mood. This essay is both startlingly new and utterly humane, one I am sure I will return to for years to come.”   

Christian Bodney is a writer. His work has appeared in Ninth Letter, SmokeLong Quarterly, and Sonora Review, among other publications. In 2023, he was the recipient of a CRAFT Creative Nonfiction Award. A graduate of New York University's creative writing MFA program and associate editor at Hobart, he lives in New York City.


Winner: Mitchell Jacobs, “Apse with Stained Glass Triptych of the Crucifixion”

Mitchell Jacobs

Judge comments: “'Apse with Stained Glass Triptych of the Crucifixion' captivated me from my first reading to the last. The poem takes remarkable risks in both form and content, delving into themes of family, violence, and mental health. Striking lyrical poetry alternates with photographs that resemble unsettling visual poems. This unique and daring poet interrogates the responsibilities and conflicts of witness: 'You can touch the glass, but not what looks at you from in the glass.' The screen of the phone, the white pane of the page, and the 'elegant window' separate the observer from action, the speaker from the addressee, and sibling from sibling. Narrative and image blend and blur in an enigmatic interplay of confession and inquiry.

“'Apse with Stained Glass Triptych of the Crucifixion' is an ekphrastic form filled with the spiritual intensity of Gerard Manley Hopkins, the linguistic precision of Elizabeth Bishop, and the personal vision of an empathetic and perceptive eye. It’s an immensely complex and moving meditation.” 

Mitchell Jacobs is the managing editor of Ricochet Editions and a PhD candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California. His poems appear in journals such as the Cincinnati ReviewPleiadesPloughshares, and the Southern Review, as well as on the Slowdown podcast through American Public Media.

Runner-up: Petro Moysaenko, "Away or Away Away”

Petro Moysaenko

Judge comments: “'Away or Away Away' opens with a daring parenthetical aside that grabs attention immediately. A sentence 'fresh as paper' explodes then quiets before an unforgettable opening stanza: 'Oh the trees taste so good sometimes.' This poem combines ode and elegy, allegory and song in unforgettable lyric phrasing: 'Language doesn’t mine but you spit / Like a rowdy spring spits world / All upon its copses seething.' It’s full of wonderfully quotable lines and wondrous ineffable feelings."

Petro Moysaenko holds degrees from NYU and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His poems appear in Bennington Review, Denver Quarterly, Poetry Northwest, and other publications. He lives in New York and coedits the online journal Paperbag.