“Putting Chaos Into 14 Lines” Sonnet Contest

It is with excitement and joy that we announce the winners of the inaugural 2019 “Putting Chaos Into 14 Lines” Sonnet Contest: “Mania” by Jenna Le and “River Valley Hexaëmera” by Matt W. Miller. They each will be awarded a prize of $500 and are invited to read the pieces at the May 2019 Poetry by the Sea Conference.

As we announce the winning sonnets, we do so with gratitude to Marilyn Nelson for serving as the contest’s final judge, as well as to all the writers whose enthusiasm made this contest take flight through their submission of traditional sonnets and artful variations that pushed the boundaries of the form. Thank you for submitting your fine work.

Please join us in congratulating the winners, as well the poets whose impressive work made the shortlist—with some writers having more than one poem shortlisted. The competition was stiff, and all submissions were judged anonymously.

Thank you again to all who helped make the contest’s inaugural year a success. May it continue!


FIRST PRIZE: “Mania” by Jenna Le

Jenna Le is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011) and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books, 2018; 1st edition published by Anchor & Plume, 2016), the latter of which won Second Place in the 2017 Elgin Awards, voted on by the international membership of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. Her poetry has appeared in AGNI Online, Bellevue Literary Review, Denver Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, Measure, Mezzo Cammin, Michigan Quarterly Review, West Branch, and elsewhere. She lives and works as a physician and educator in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Her website is jennalewriting.com.

Honorable Mention: “Because Dementia Runs in His Family” by Ashley Anna McHugh

Shortlist of Individual Sonnets

“Because Dementia Runs in His Family” by Ashley Anna McHugh (H. M.)
“Dusk” by Marjorie Maddox
“Farnese Antinous” by Gail White
“The Girl from Senegambia, by way of Schooner Phillis” by Minal Hajratwala
“Girls and Horses” by Marybeth Rua-Larsen
“Hotel Lobby” by Jean Kreiling
“The Lake Speaks to the Summer People” by Melissa Balmain
“Mania” by Jenna Le (First Prize)
“The Second Marriage” by Ashley Anna McHugh
“Sheen” by Anna Lena Phillips Bell
“Sonnenizio for the Motherless on Mother’s Day” by Marybeth Rua-Larsen
“Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection” by Susan Gubernat


FIRST PRIZE: “River Valley Hexaëmera” by Matt W. Miller

Matt W. Miller is the author of the collections The Wounded for the Water (Salmon Poetry), Club Icarus, selected by Major Jackson as the winner of the 2012 Vassar Miller Poetry Prize and Cameo Diner: Poems. He has published poems and essays in Birmingham Poetry Review, Harvard Review, Narrative Magazine, Notre Dame Review, Southwest Review, 32 Poems, Memorious, and Crazyhorse, among other journals. Winner of the River Styx Microfiction Prize and Iron Horse Review’s Trifecta Poetry Prize, he is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University and a Walter E. Dakin Fellow in Poetry at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He teaches English at Phillips Exeter Academy and lives with his family in coastal New Hampshire.

Honorable Mention: “On Reading the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury Report” by Catherine Chandler

Shortlist of Sonnet Crowns

“An Iliad of Bones” by Katie Hoerth
“Introduction to Bach” by Jean Kreiling
“On Reading the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury Report” by Catherine Chandler (H. M.)
“On Retirement” by David M. Katz
“Ring of Lies” by Barbara Lydecker Crane
“River Valley Hexaëmera” by Matt W. Miller (First Prize)
“Seven Nocturnes by Chopin” by Jean Kreiling