Jodi Barnes of Cary, NC for “Lucky”

Heather Adams of Raleigh, NC for “Absolution”

Richard Ballou of Cary, NC for “Pursuits”

Ann Bronston of Venice, CA for “No I (Written Without That Particular Letter)”

Ann Hillesland of Mountain View, CA for “Frogs”

Alexander Lumans of Denver, CO for “The American Indian Is Dead”

Amanda Pauley of Elliston, VA for "The Goddess of Memory"

Judged by Robin Black

First Prize: Kathryn Etters Lovatt of Camden, SC for “Vermin” 

Judge’s Comment: “It’s the voice that pulls you into ‘Vermin,’ the energy of it and the attitude, a mix of shattered heart and surviving humor. That’s not an easy combination to pull off, and neither is the perfect arc of this story, the way it travels a long way in just a few pages, carrying the narrator, believably, endearingly, from a place of misery to a place of hope, from an obsession with the past to a glimmer of the future. Among a field of very strong contenders, ‘Vermin’ was the clear winner, a story that reads quickly and lingers long. Bravo!”

Second Prize: Colette Sartor of Los Angeles, CA for “Daredevil”

Honorable Mention: Jacob Appel of Scarsdale, NY for “The Frying Finn”

Thomas Wolf of Chapel Hill, NC for “Neighbors”

Richard Ballou of Cary, NC for “A Difficult Thing, a Beautiful Comfort”

Ann Bronston of Venice, CA for “Obedience School”

Gregg Cusick of Durham, NC for “Gutted”

Brent Robison of Mt. Tremper, NY  for “Phoenix Egg”

Frank Scozzari of Nipomo, CA for “The Triumph”

Jacob Appel of Scarsdale, NY for “The House Call”

Judged by David Abrams

First Prize: Faith Holsaert of Durham, NC for Chosen Girl

Judge’s Comment: “In this finely crafted story, a young girl, Deborah, comes of age in postwar New York City with her lesbian mother and her lover, a black music teacher named Laurel. This is a full-bodied portrait of a full life, lived between World War Two and Vietnam, between Jim Crow and McCarthyism, between the innocence of a four-year-old girl and the resonant memories of a thirty-year-old woman. Chosen Girl is told through the point-of-view of a child. It's never an easy task for a writer to find the right pitch between cloying and too-wise, but the author perfectly nails that voice on the page. What's even more remarkable, the point-of-view matures as the story goes along. The best compliment I can pay this novella of a few dozen pages is that when I arrived at the end, I felt like I'd just emerged from the richly built world of a thick novel. I would gladly spend many more hours inside Deborah's life.”

Honorable Mention: Lawrence Coates of Bowling Green, OH for Camp Olvido

Honorable Mention: Michael Tuohy of Jefferson, GA and Susan Zimmerman of Cumming, GA for Negotiating the Narrows

Peter Hoppock of Evanston, IL for Mr. Pegg to You

Birgitte Rasine of Sunnyvale, CA for Verse in Arabic

Kelly Davio is the author of the poetry collection Burn This House (Red Hen Press, 2013). She serves as the Managing Editor of The Los Angeles Review, as an Associate Editor of Fifth Wednesday Journal, and as a reviewer for Women’s Review of Books. She is a Pushcart nominee whose work has been honored in Best New Poets, and who has published poems in journals including Gargoyle, The Cincinnati Review, Bellingham Review, and others. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, Whidbey Writers’ Workshop, and teaches English as a second language in Seattle, Washington.
Jane Ciabattari is a former president of the National Book Critics Circle, author of the short-story collection Stealing the Fire, and a contributor to Long Island Noir, edited by Kaylie Jones. Her short stories have been honored with an editors' choice award (Hampton Shorts) and three Pushcart Prize special mentions (including one for her flash fiction "How I Left  Onandaga County,"published in Ms. and in the anthology The Best Underground Fiction). Recent stories are online at The Literarian and KGB Bar Lit. Her reviews, interviews, and cultural reporting have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Newsweek/The Daily Beast,, The Boston Globe, Bookforum, The Guardian online, Salon, The Paris Review, the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, O the Oprah Magazine, The Washington Post, Barnes & Noble Review, Columbia Journalism Review, and The East Hampton Star, among others. Read Ms. Ciabattari's complete bio at
David James Poissant is the author of Lizard Man, winner of the 2011 RopeWalk Fiction Chapbook Prize. Other stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Playboy, One Story, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and The Southern Review, and they have been anthologized in New Stories from the South, Best New American Voices, and the Press 53 Open Awards Anthology. He is a winner of the Playboy College Fiction Contest, the George Garrett Fiction Award, the Matt Clark Prize, the Alice White Reeves Memorial Award from the National Society of Arts & Letters, and Second and Third Prizes in the Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Contest. He lives in Orlando, Florida with his wife and daughters and teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Central Florida. His debut story collection and novel are forthcoming from Simon & Schuster in 2014 and 2015.
Robin Black’s debut story collection  If I loved you, I would tell you this (Random House), was a finalist for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize, the winner of the Philadelphia Athenaeum Fiction Prize, a summer reading pick in O. Magazine, and deemed a best book of 2010 by the San Francisco Chronicle and The Irish Times. Robin’s fiction and essays have appeared in numerous publications including The Southern Review, The New York Times Magazine, One Story, The Georgia Review, Colorado Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Freight Stories, Indiana Review, and The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. I (Norton, 2007). She is currently the Distinguished Visiting Writer at Bryn Mawr College and is at work on her first novel. Read Robin’s complete bio at
David Abrams’ novel about the Iraq War, Fobbit, was published by Grove/Atlantic in 2012 and was featured as part of Barnes and Noble's Discover Great New Writers. His short stories have appeared in Esquire, Narrative, Salon, Electric Literature, The Literarian, Connecticut Review, The Greensboro Review, Five Chapters, The Missouri Review, and many other places. He regularly blogs about the literary life at The Quivering Pen. He earned a BA in English from the University of Oregon and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. He now lives in Butte, Montana.
Press 53 . PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130-0314

2013 Press 53 Open Awards
2013 Press 53 Open Awards Finalists & Winners

Judged by Kelly Davio

First Prize: Shawn Fawson of Denver, CO for “For a Quiet World”; “The World That Is Coming Apart Is Also a World That Is Responding to Hold Itself Together”; “How to Manage Anxiety”

Judge's Comment: “These beautifully crafted poems show a diversity of style and mastery of several approaches to the page: the tensile stanzas of ‘The World That is Coming Apart’ hum with the poet's restraint, ‘How to Manage Anxiety’ rollicks across landscapes and lights up the natural world with the poet's close attention, and ‘For a Quiet World’ breathes deeply across its long, elegant lines. For its wide range, this poet’s work is unified by a humane approach to its subject matter; it demands our attention not for bluster but for maturity of voice. These poems hold the world gently in their hands, offering us the opportunity to take a closer look.”

Second Prize: Peg Bresnahan of Cedar Mountain, NC for “Radium Girls, 1924”; “Decoding My Mother's Ledger from July 20, 1940”; “That Space We Share”

Honorable Mention: Florence Fogelin of White River Junction, VT for “Racing the Wrecking Ball”; “Rescue II”; “Housekeeping”

Jeffrey Alfier of Torrance, CA for "My Daughter Rerouted Through Sadr City"; "Before the Redeployment"; "Nocturne for My Daughter's Convoy"

Libby Bernardin of Georgetown, SC for "I release yesterday"; "the heart having no memory"; "If I could speak to the God of our childhood"

Tom Fugalli of New York, NY for "The Mind-Body Problem"; "Dottore Amore"; "Super Easy Holiday Roast Chicken"

Dawn McGuire of Orinda, CA for "HazMat"; "Jealousy"; "After Finding a Firefighter's Ax at the Thrift Store"

Susan Schmidt of Beaufort, NC for "Landslide"; "I Wade Rivers as Prayer"; "Eyes and Glass"

Lisa Zerkle of Charlotte, NC for "The Devil's Work"; "Luminary"; "Particulate Matters"

Crystal Simone Smith of Durham, NC for "Life as a Machine"; "Speed of the Years"; "Grief Song"

Judged by Jane Ciabattari

First Prize: Lori White of Piru, CA for “Gambling One Ridge Away”

Judge's Comment: “ ‘Gambling One Ridge Away’ does what flash is supposed to do. It pulls you into a White Earth Engine, Minnesota, Ojibwe fire fighting crew in Wyoming hunkering down for the night with fire one ridge away and a wind warning in effect, and never lets you go.” 

Second Prize: James Reed of Omaha, NE for “The Robot Suit”

Honorable Mention: Teri Stettnisch of Overland Park, KS for “What You Eating There, Boy”

Amanda Pauley of Elliston, VA for “Hope”

Lisa Sanchez of Temecula, CA for “Ten True Facts and Two False Lies About My Lover”

Patricia Walker of Raleigh, NC for “At Dusk”

Jamie Hahn of Durham, NC for “This Particular Sunrise”

Judged by David James Poissant

First Prize: Jen Julian of Columbia, MO for “Restless Soul Enjoy Your Youth”

Judge's Comment: “ ‘Restless Soul, Enjoy Your Youth’ won me over with its voice, which is assured and, sentence for sentence, word for word, pitch-perfect. The concept is simple—a mother and daughter clean and repaint the room of a daughter who has been dead three years—but there is nothing simple about these characters, their psychology, or the language that delivers their story. I also admire how this story touches the twin hems of fury and grief that follow saying goodbye to those who leave this world due, in part, to their own recklessness. By story’s end, we feel we know the dead woman better than the living sister who tells her story. The sister knows this, understands that she’ll always be overshadowed by the sister who, in death, has ‘expanded and diffused, now a hundred times her original size.’ Then there’s the fact that the title’s borrowed from the first line of a Pearl Jam song. Who could ask for anything more?”

Second Prize: Ann Bronston of Venice, CA for “Earth”

Honorable Mention: Kirk Nesset of Meadville, PA for “Burn”

The Press 53 Open Awards returns January 1, 2014, as the
Prime Number Magazine Awards!

Here are the results of the
2013 Press 53 Open Awards!

First Prize in Each Category wins
our beautiful, personalized etched-glass award!

Top Three Winners in Each Category (First Prize Only in Novella) Published in the 2013 Press 53 Open Awards Anthology

All finalists will receive a free copy of the
2013 Press 53 Open Awards Anthology

Join us in Winston-Salem, NC on Saturday, October 19, 6 p.m. at the Community Arts Cafe for our annual Wine & Words Fest when we unveil the 2013 Press 53 Open Awards Anthology and present awards to all finalists and winners who are present.