When She Was Bad by Gabrielle Brant Freeman

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Lust. Love. Betrayal and loyalty. Temptation and hilarity. Gabrielle Freeman dissects her speakers’ hearts, tenderly, with supreme attention to what it is to be human, female, and fierce. Gabrielle Freeman’s poems are bad—by which I mean badass bold. Michael Jackson bad. Freeman’s bad and you know it. That’s why you read her. When She Was Bad is a smart, compassionate, tightly crafted and explosive debut. 

—Denise Duhamel, author of Blowout
Press 53 . PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130-0314
The Universal Physics of Escape by Elizabeth Gonzalez
Winner 2015 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction

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​Elizabeth Gonzalez is a master of dialogue, an artist at creating vivid settings, and an encyclopedia of knowledge about the world surrounding her characters. These stories uncover truths that makes the reading experience memorable and each story remarkable.

Kevin Morgan Watson, Publisher, Press 53, who served as final judge
Crosscurrents and Other Stories by Gerry Wilson

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Gerry Wilson's stories are about the essential tugs between desires: for safety or risk; for adventure or comfort; for sanctioned action or the indubitably un. Her characters are in mortal combat, most often with themselves. This is a very exciting and compelling collection of stories; I loved reading it.

Antonya Nelson, author of Funny Once: Stories

Twelve Women in a Country Called America: Stories by Kelly Cherry

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Kelly Cherry’s tenth work of fiction delivers twelve compelling stories about women of the American South. These are women struggling to find their way through the everyday workings of life while also navigating the maze of self. From a young woman’s nightmare piano lesson to an elderly woman’s luminous last breath, Twelve Women in a Country Called America takes readers on a journey sometimes dark, sometimes funny, and always enlightening.

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The Seven Stages of Anger and Other Stories
by Wendy J. Fox
Winner of the 2014 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction

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What happens when a still life speaks? Wendy J. Fox invites us to eavesdrop. These beautiful, lyrical stories describe ordinary lives: speckled eggshells, creeping vines. Here’s the threat of fire out east and endless rain when the map meets Seattle. Here are characters so real you know them already. They’ve misplaced your keys and borrowed your car.

Carol Guess, author of Darling Endangered and Doll Studies: Forensics

Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet, Volume II
edited by Clifford Garstang

Go to the Everywhere Stories book page

From my first experience outside the United States as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Korea, to my international law career and work for the World Bank. My travels have had a lasting impact on my writing and also on my reading. Like many people who travel, I’m drawn to stories set in exotic locations, both to places I’ve seen firsthand and countries with which I’m unfamiliar. That’s one way I learn about the world and discover new sites to visit. I hope you feel the same way, although there’s a certain village in Panama you might want to avoid.

—from the Introduction, by Clifford Garstang, editor
Fissures: One Hundred 100-Word Stories by Grant Faulkner

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Grant Faulkner’s sharply observed, darkly funny, heart-breaking bursts of highly compressed prose offers a startling view of what reality might look like through a funhouse microscope. Fissures pushes the boundaries of flash prose, and thank goodness for that. Sometimes less is so much more.

Dinty W. Moore, author of Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy: Advice and Confessions on Writing, Love, and Cannibals

Baby's on Fire by Liz Prato

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In her terrific debut, Baby’s on Fire, Liz Prato pulls off the ultimate balancing act: the stories are at once beautifully written and tremendously compelling—not to mention filled with characters so full of life that they feel as real as people we know. A knockout collection.

Molly Antopol, author of The UnAmericans
Press Fifty-Three

560 N. Trade St, Ste 103
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
In the Season of Blood & Gold by Taylor Brown

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With ferocious economy and a great big heart, Taylor Brown writes one of the best debuts I've ever picked up. These are stories, verses, meditations, and accusations—everything, in short, you could hope to get from important fiction. This work demands your attention.

Charles Dodd White, author of A Shelter of Others 

a scrap of linen, a bone by Ginger Murchison
A Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection

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These are made poems. These are earned poems. These are poems of a full-fledged grownup who understands and celebrates the “slow hungers” that “breathe / beneath leveled dreams, / the South’s muscular sky / painted over now, paler blue.” This book will offer you welcome and pleasure.

Thomas Lux, author of Child Made of Sand

Hard Toward Home by C.D. Albin

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Hard Toward Home is alive with cross-grained people caught between their pasts and futures and striving to outlast the harm they've done each other and themselves. Albin possesses all the storyteller's gifts of eye and ear and mind and goes them one better by virtue of his heart. These stories are deep and wise and quietly gorgeous.

—Janet Peery, author of The River Beyond the World
Porridge by Richard Garcia
​Winner of the 2016 Press 53 Award for Poetry
A Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection

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Porridge is an outstanding collection of adult fables, remixed lullabies, and ars poeticas. The poem, "Vasko Popa," is the best critique of big data I've read ("The computer wants you to save everything"). "The Promise" delivers a heartrending, mythical coming-of-age tale. Richard Garcia is a superlative fabulist.

—Jillian Weise, author of The Book of Goodbyes
Exit, pursued by a bear, by Joseph Mills
poems inspired by Shakespeare's stage directions

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What an inspired collection! The lines between reality and the stage, between life and art, between past and present—they're all blurred into an exciting whirligig of poetry based on Shakespeare's stage directions. You don't have to be a Shakespeare nut to fall in love with this collection.

—Robert Lee Brewer, author of Solving the World’s Problems and editor of Poet’s Market
Balancing Acts: New & Selected Poems 1993 – 2015
by Yahia Lababidi
Silver Concho Poetry Series edited by Pamela Uschuk and William Pitt Root

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I find myself pausing everywhere among these wisdoms, wondering why the world stumbles and staggers through such a dark and greedy time when there are people alive with such keen, caring insight. . . If Yahia Samir Lababidi were in charge of a country, I would want to live there. 

—Naomi Shihab Nye, author of There Is No Long Distance Now 
They Could Live with Themselves, linked stories by Jodi Paloni

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They Could Live with Themselves dazzles twice: first, as a collection of subtle and engaging short stories that stand on their own, and second, as a sustained narrative. The intriguing characters of the fictional town of Stark Run appear and reappear until, by book’s end, the reader sees the broader picture of Jodi Paloni’s expert weaving. Throughout, her prose pops with humor and insight as it tracks the eternal tug between giving to others and giving to oneself. This is a stunning debut.

—Philip Graham, author of  Interior Design
That Rain We Needed by Sam Barbee

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​That Rain We Needed is one man’s search for his place of true belonging in an imperfect world. Sometimes comical, other times poignant, always willing to be vulnerable—here Sam Barbee unfolds his map for negotiating family and its complicated relationships. Little escapes his keen eye. “Snagged in the belly of combed clouds / I release all I am into wind,” he says—he who bravely bares his soul to us all.

—Susan Laughter Meyers, author of My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass

Elegies for Small Game by Shelby Stephenson
Winner of the 2016 Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry

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In poem after poem Stephenson catches the exuberance of childhood, the romance of hot-rods, the delight of barnyard basketball, and the poignant poetry of bird life in the countryside. In dialogue and hymn, this singer and laureate meditates on issues of race, history, and the bonds of abiding love.

—Robert Morgan, author of Dark Energy

What My Hand Say by Glenis Redmond

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In What My Hand Say, Glenis Redmond digs deep, risking peace of mind, the comfort of ignorance and the assurance of being numb to history and memory, to make poems that are urgent, full of alarm, and marked by the realization that the best art is one that dares to look boldly at hard experience and still find a music in it. This a welcome collection by a poet engaged in the necessary work of writing with a full sense of place and history. South Carolina is fecund with stories and musics, and Redmond manages to tap into this complex resource with skill and heart. 

Kwame Dawes, author of City of Bones: A Testament
Piranhas & Quicksand & Love by Sally Shivnan

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The fourteen stories in Piranhas & Quicksand & Love are clear and profound . . . . Read this book to savor its beautiful language, to drink in its gentle defiance. Piranhas & Quicksand & Love calls readers to ride the waves of a sea besieged by predatory behavior and natural disaster. To sail on, nevertheless, toward love.

—The Washington Independent Review of Books

Jimtown Road: A Novel in Stories by Dennis McFadden
Winner of the 2016 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction

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​“These interestingly linked stories are fresh, gritty, surprising, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. We’ve published linked story collections in the past, but Dennis’ approach was unique. When I finished one story, I found myself looking forward to the next one, wondering who I was about to meet and how the story would tie in with the others. And the last story brought the entire collection full-circle, right back to the beginning with a very strange twist.”

—Kevin Morgan Watson, Publisher, Press 53
Blue Star by Barbara Presnell

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A mother’s voice shines in the striking family of voices crisscrossing generations in Barbara Presnell’s Blue Star. In this treasure tracing war, race, and the Quaker faith through her family history, Presnell’s heart belongs to her son, to whom the book is dedicated and who she prays “will never see a battlefield.” Some of the book’s most moving poems evoke tender-tough challenges to the mother-son bond, which finds resilience through “small miracles of transformation” as her son becomes a man making a family of his own. We find ourselves in these poems, in each moment of a family’s embattled past and uncertain present, holding “what flutters,” knowing it is our heart.

—Heather H. Thomas, author of Blue Ruby and Resurrection Papers

Bones of an Inland Sea (Book Club Edition) by Mary Akers

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​We taken this popular collection of linked stories and added book club questions, a family tree for the characters, a timeline, and a new story. Evocative and brimming with redemption, Mary Akers' newest collection BONES OF AN INLAND SEA takes the reader on a journey of exploration and transformation that begins with a 19th century shipwreck. Characters connect on remote beaches and forgotten islands, while family ties prove--like the ocean--to be both powerful and unpredictable. These fourteen stories form a captivating mosaic of intertwining narratives that convey a strong sense of the eternal and the possible.
The Widow's Guide to Edible Mushrooms by Chauna Craig

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With the heart of a giant, and an eye sharp enough to cut, Chauna Craig takes her hometown of Great Falls, Montana, and makes it every town whose glory may lurk mostly in memory. And within these towns, within the hearts of the people hanging on, hidden as if by a magician, lie the complexities of all lives, awaiting, like our own hearts, discovery. The great gift of The Widow’s Guide to Edible Mushrooms is to allow you to be their discoverer. Chauna Craig is the real deal.

—Pete Fromm, author of If Not for This
Total Balance Farm by Clint McCown

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Clint McCown's meditative locale is a menagerie of hawks and hummingbirds, eagles and turtles, a wife's idle boot and the brown recluse who'll find uneasy home in it. Through philosophers Greek and ruralist, McCown finds terror in beauty and beauty in the terrified ones adrift in earth's vertiginous sway. The poet leaves us always a step removed from steady, hankering for balance. There, tethered in fear's "inmost cave," menace and penance preside—all our human "complaints" loom amid the uncertain gift of "feathers."

—Kevin Stein, Poet Laureate of Illinois and author of American Ghost Roses

Swimming Through Fire by Seth Michelson

Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection

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"These poems—courageous, world-aware, joyful, terrifying—by Seth Michelson, a young poet who has learned his trade, move me very much. They make me feel like shooting off a cannon, make me feel like grabbing strangers by the lapels, saying: Read these poems, read these poems, he wrote them for you!" 

​— Thomas Lux, author of God Particles
In a Homeland Not Far by Yahya Frederickson
Silver Concho Poetry Series

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In a Homeland Not Far is a marvelous travelogue through places where one would hardly venture now . . .Yemen, Syria, Nigeria, Ethiopia . . . but places and people seen here in warm detail of the everyday before the misrule of violence. Frederickson's narrative moves with delightful lyric grace, as if William Carlos Williams had somehow been transported to Arab deserts and towns. 

— John Balaban, author of Path, Crooked Path
Lion Brothers by Leona Sevick, winner of the 2017 Press 53 Award for Poetry

A Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection

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Leona Sevick’s Lion Brothers is a psychologically astute, keen, and powerful sequence of poems that harness the luminous particulars of experience and race to reveal worlds within and behind the immediate, visible one. This is a marvelous debut.

— Arthur Sze, author of Compass Rose

Becoming the Blue Heron by Terri Kirby Erickson

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Open Terri Kirby Erickson’s book, Becoming the Blue Heron, and enter a world of light. You will encounter the warmth of loving parents, a granny dragged by a cow, the intimacy of nature, and the shock of unimaginable loss. Beauty and brokenness nestle side by side in this lovely collection. Each moment glimmers even more brightly against the shadow of sorrow, and the poet never loses sight of a realm where everyone is whole. We begin to believe, as she does, that “here, there/is only goodness and mercy, the light of a million stars . . .”

— Ann Campanella, author of Motherhood: Lost and Found

Stephanie Carpenter of Hancock, Michigan named winner of the
2017 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction

Press 53 honors Milo Wright, a young, hometown poet, storyteller, artist, and Trade Street regular, who struggled with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, social awkwardness, gender fluidity, and a willingness to trust that often backfired. Milo's posthumous collection of poems, Milo Writes, tells their story and celebrates a life that ended too soon.
Finding and sharing remarkable voices
since October 2005