We weren’t sure what to expect when we opened submissions for the Kraken Awards. We were pleasantly surprised and overwhelmed. The submissions began coming in almost as soon as we announced the contest. They kept coming. In the end there were 41 fiction and 18 poetry submissions. We wished we could have more winners. What we have here are the results of much hand wringing and whining about decision making and, finally, some hard choices. There will be a blog post later with the nuts and bolts of it all, what we learned, and what we’ll be doing differently next year. For now, though, here are eight amazing stories and eight incredible poems from authors both familiar to Devilfish readers and from new voices we hope to see more of. The choices were hard, but, like most difficult things, they were worth it. Thank you to everyone who entered. Congratulations to our grand prize winners in fiction and poetry respectively Imogen Cassidy and M. Brett Gaffney, second prize winners K.M. Herkes and Janice D. Soderling, third prize winners David Bowles and Brit Graham, and to our honorable mentions Thomas Wells, Dorian Maffei, Andrea Judy, M.K. Sauer, Laura Duerr, and LeAnn Bjerken, Cesar L. De Leon, Minal Hajratwala, M. Brett Gaffney, and William Nixon.
The poetry in our contest issue is a wild ride – we have everything from metrical verse to prose poetry, the Sunday dinner table to the stars, thirteen year old girls to Death himself. Each of these poems explore a different fear, a different longing, a different speculation, but they all reveal aspects of what it means to be human, or, err, something like it. Our winning poem, “Hyena Girl,” explores the wilderness of the junior high locker room in such a poignant way that it makes me wonder where we draw the line between girl and beast. In second place, “Mom Kills Our Sunday Dinner with a Hatchet,” explores that gray area between life and death in such a vivid and sharp way that it’s absolutely haunting. “Asterius” takes readers from a tattoo and into the galaxy, exploring the boundary of pleasure and pain. Our honorable mentions, too, take readers on different sorts of journeys, one you’ll return from recharged and ready to face the “real world,” which, let’s face it, we all wish could be a little more like the place described in “Unicorns for Dummies.” I hope you enjoy sifting through these poems and savoring them as much as I did.