Backwaters Prize for 2017

The Backwaters Press is excited to announce our 2017 winner of the Backwaters Prize. This year’s top prize is $2,500 and publication of the submitted manuscript. The press received over 300 manuscripts from around the world and our dedicated team of readers winnowed that number to the very best of the best, which were then submitted to our gracious judge, Bob Hicok, for evaluation.


Samantha Deal: Taxonomies / Something Opened
Kathy O’Fallon:  Listening for Tchaikovsky
Sarah Fishman: Birds of Avarice
Dennis Hinrichsen: [triage]
Francine Conley: What Sweetness from Salt
Kristi Carter: Aria Viscera
Emari DiGiorgio: Girl Torpedo
Heather Angier: Hewn
Liz Robbins: Nets Full of Breath

The winning manuscript for the 2017 Backwaters is:

Not Your Mama’s Melting Pot, Benjamín Naka-Hasebe Kingsley.

Our judge Bob Hicok writes:

“From jump, there was such sonic, emotional, and intellectual drive to these poems, that I couldn’t resist – why would I want to – the pull of Benjamín Naka-Hasebe Kingsley’s vision and sensibility. Verve and élan are words I might use, but they lack sufficient verve and élan. And if I wrote, “his future is bright,” I’d be wrong – his future is here, and this book is as much fire as I can ask for.”

We would like to thank all the poets who submitted their work and congratulate the finalists and Mr. Kingsley for their extraordinary work.

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