The 2019 Francine Ringold Awards Results

The editors of Nimrod International Journal are delighted to announce the winners, finalists, and semi-finalists of the 2019 Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers:

Sarah Ebba Hansen, VA, “Moss Hollow” and other poems

Joanna Currey, TN, “Somerset Olde Creek Pool & Rec. Center” and other poems
Tara Mesalik MacMahon, WA, “In the Old Neighborhood” and other poems
Cindy Juyoung Ok, IA, “Pale Music” and other poems

Morgan Hamill, MA, “slept nine cold months” and other poems
Tara Mesalik MacMahon, WA, “Upon Her Backing-Out of Backing-Back-In to the Dating Pool” and other poems
Jake Orbison, NY, “Fountains” and other poems
Angela Sucich, WA, “They Ask Me If I Speak Spanish” and other poems
Katelyn Wilkinson, NV, “Wild Caught” and other poems

Alison Ho, CT, “Ars Poetica”

Gauraa Shekhar, NY, “Other Significant Others: A Glossary”

Cyd Clemmons, VA, “Second Person”
Angie Kang, CA, “For Four Hands”
Lauren Loftis, MA, “Highway 12”
Hayley Swinson, NC, “The Big Questions”
Virginia Wood, TX, “It Whitened and Stretched into Vastnesses”

Congratulations to all these wonderful writers! Thank you so much to everyone who submitted.

Our 2020 Francine Ringold Awards opens May 1st, 2020, and you can submit your works of creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. More information is available on our website:

Healing Through Second Intention: Britton Gildersleeve on Colin Pope’s WHY I DIDN’T GO TO YOUR FUNERAL

Poet Colin Pope’s collection Why I Didn’t Go to Your Funeral details the kind of ragged, jagged wound that’s impossible to repair neatly. Physicians say injuries like these must heal naturally, without stitches, from the base outward to the skin: a wound to heal by “secondary intention.”[1] This wound, in Pope’s case, is the loss of an ex to suicide. The healing here is much like the gauze used to pack such a wound: messy and painfully ugly in its own right.

But still, somehow, horrifically beautiful. And necessary.

I’m warning you, however, not to read this collection when your own grief is fresh. Pope describes “The Excess Stages of Grief,” in which “you start sweating at midnight/and don’t stop until after sunrise” and the trauma around “Viewing the Body Before Cremation,” when “[t]he strings in the backs of my legs/had gone slack, my joints disconnected/like an unstrung marionette.” No, these are probably not the best opportunities to catch your breath in the throes of articulate suffering.

Perhaps read it when, after years of grief, you can conjugate the tenses of hang and hanged and hung, as Pope does, sandwiching that parsing between scintillating flights into Greek and Latin, and words brilliant with lexical baggage: vaticination, boscage. Pope ranges between ancient Greek history and Paleolithic bone fragments and astronomy and old Alexandria, in one poem alone (“How to Tell If a Moon Is Waxing or Waning,” one of my favorites in the collection). Your own grief will find comfort in Pope’s darkly gorgeous landscape, where “the ragged corpse of goodbye/is waiting for us to find it.”

The poems travel from Buddhist ashram to Louisiana, from a discursion on nature (“Whatever Nature Means”) to an envy-generating (for this writer) send-up of the inadequacies of language. Here are the lines of a poet in his glory days, with internal rhymes to pleasantly surprise you and line breaks that gently, effortlessly cloak each word.

The collection is also an eloquent critique of poetry’s inadequacies. “Variations on Trouble” reminds us that all of it “is language’s fault,/or the fault of everyone who ever taught anyone/to use it inaccurately, or knowing that it is/inaccurate, using it anyway,” that “tragedy [ . . . ] is also/irony”; that “crisis [ . . . ] is also disaster [ . . . ] is calamity, woe/distress.” Each stack of blocks of words illuminates another polyhedral face of grief.

Then, just in time, a poem like “Extract” intervenes, quiet in its sorrow, playing with fragrances (as if they were not conjuring a ghost). As if Je Reviens didn’t mean I come again. . . .

Here’s my recommendation: you need this book if you have ever lost someone. You need it because someday you will, and it will be waiting for you. But read it carefully, as you would dose a bitter but life-saving elixir, sip by sip. Remember that healing by second intention is difficult. But if Pope’s book is any indication, it’s possible.

Colin Pope, a Nimrod editorial board member, is a Ph.D. candidate at Oklahoma State University. His poems, essays, and criticism have appeared in or are forthcoming from such journals as Slate, Rattle, West Branch, The Millions, Best New Poets, and others. Why I Didn’t Go to Your Funeral was a finalist for the Press 53 Award and was released in 2019 from Tolsun Books.

Britton Gildersleeve’s creative nonfiction and poetry have appeared in NimrodSpoon River Poetry Review, This Land, and many other journals. She has published three chapbooks and was the director of the Oklahoma State University Writing Project for twelve years.

[1] Second Intention Healing, according to RNCentral : “A wound that is extensive and involves considerable tissue loss, and in which the edges cannot be brought together heals in this manner. This is how pressure ulcers heal. Secondary intention healing differs from primary intention healing in three ways: 1) The repair time is longer. 2) The scarring is greater. 3) The chances of infection are far greater.”


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