Announcing the Winners of the Bellingham Review’s 2016 Literary Contests

We are pleased to announce the winners of the Bellingham Review 2016 literary awards—the 49th Parallel Award for Poetry, the Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction, and the Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction—selected by contest judges Daniel Tobin, Joy Castro, and Sybil Baker, respectively. The winners will each receive an award of $1,000 and will be published in the Spring 2017 print issue of Bellingham Review.

49th Parallel Award for Poetry

Cathy Guo is the winner of the 2016 49th Parallel Award for Poetry for her poem “Exegesis After the Storm.” Contest judge Daniel Tobin said the poem gives us “a beautifully evocative lyrical riff on the spiritual suggestiveness of material things—headlights, snowfall, a glass of roses falling. This is poetry that is more observance than observation, its slippages and associations ‘a kind of praying’ that discerns the momentous in the ordinary.”

Cathy Guo is a Chinese-American writer and student at Columbia University. She was the 2013 River of Words Grand Prize winner and a Commended Poet for the 2016 Martin Starkie Awards. Her poems have been featured in The Margins, Zone 3, Aster(ix), Matter and others. She wants to collaborate in ways that defy specialization in confined mediums, crafts, languages. You can reach her at

Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction

Marya Hornbacher is the winner of the 2016 Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction for her essay “Whether to Brine a Bird.” Contest judge Joy Castro called the piece “A pleasure and a provocation” that “takes admirable risks with point of view, asking of readers an unusual level of suppleness and fluidity as we glide among different subject positions and psychic distances from the material.”

Marya Hornbacher is an award-winning journalist, writer and the best-selling author of five books, including the New York Times Bestseller Madness, the Pulitzer Prize finalist Wasted, and the New York Times Editor’s Choice The Center of Winter. The recipient of a host of awards and fellowships for her writing and research, her work is published in eighteen languages. Hornbacher’s writing across genres appears regularly in literary and journalistic publications around the world, most recently in AGNI, Gulf Coast, Fourth Genre, and Vestoj (Paris). Her sixth book, a work of long-form journalism on neuroscience and mental health will be published by Houghton Mifflin in late 2017; her seventh, a collection of essays on solitude, will appear the following year. She is an Assistant Professor of Writing Arts at Rowan University.

Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction

Abby Bardi is the winner of the 2016 Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction for her story “Abu the Water Carrier.” Contest judge Sybil Baker called it “an emotionally complex story with heart” that “covers the familiar landscapes of love, family, and loss.”

Abby Bardi is the author of the novels The Book of Fred, The Secret Letters, and Double Take. Her short fiction has appeared in Quarterly West, Rosebud, Monkeybicycle, and in the anthologies High Infidelity, Grace and Gravity, and Reader, I Murdered Him. She has an MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Maryland and teaches writing and literature in the Washington, DC, area. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, the oldest railroad depot in America.



The entries for this year’s literary awards were outstanding and we wish to congratulate the finalists in each category:

49th Parallel Award for Poetry
“Anhedonia” by Alison Carb Sussman
“Arachnophilia” by Juli Anna Herndon
“At 2,000 Feet” by Amy Miller
“My Past Life as a Man” by Deborah Allbritain
“Night-Swim with a Childhood Friend” by Ruth Elizabeth Morris
“Self-Portrait with Cephalopod and Digitalis Purpurea” by Kathryn Smith
​“Skinnydipping in the Gossamer Light of the End” by Alex Lemon
“Takotsubo” by Laura Apol
“The Nothing: Notes Post-Op” by Amy Minett
“What I Think about when I Think about Thinking” by Daniel Polikoff
“#fergusonunrest” by Rita Chapman

Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction
“Distance and Danger: Sketches of Nepal” by Anne Beatty
“Ecija Siete” by Carmen Morawski
“Escape Moves” by Peter Blair
“Eulogy for an Owl” by Mary Noble

Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction
Runner-Up: “The Tiger” by Julyan Peard
“Cubicle Girls” by Jenniey Tallman
“F-Stop” by Yvonne Conza
“Tati” by Paula Brancato
“The Red Wagon” by Pat Ryan
“True Blue” by Hannah Withers

All of the 2016 contest entrants will receive a subscription to Bellingham Review’s Spring 2017 print edition, Issue 74, which will include the 2016 contest winners.

Thank you, again, to all the entrants for giving us the opportunity to read your work. The contest submissions were especially strong this year, and we enjoyed reading them very much.

We welcome your work when our general submissions reading period re-opens on September 15, 2016.

Next year’s contests will open for submissions on December 1, 2016.

Bellingham Review accepts all submission via Submittable.