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Press 53/Prime Number Magazine editors were preliminary judges, delivering to our judges selections for finalists in each category. All reading was "blind."

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$1,000 First Prize in Short Fiction: “Wild Kingdom” by Robyn Carter of San Francisco, CA, judged by Pinckney Benedict

Bio: Robyn Carter’s writing has appeared in Conjunctions, Ninth Letter, West Branch, Colorado Review, NanoFiction and other journals. She serves as a San Francisco WritersCorps teaching artist in residence at a public school in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood.

Runners-Up in Short Fiction

“Theories of Simultaneous Love and Loss” by Charles Duffie of Claremont, CA

“Seven Is the Square Root of Survival” by KT Sparks of Greenville, VA

Finalists in Short Fiction

“Fight or Flight” by Brian Crawford of Redwood City, CA

“Minty” by Laura Farnsworth of Denver, CO

“The Death Cart” by Kent Nelson of Ouray, CO     

“Fugue with Little Green Men” by Zachary Williams of Hattiesburg, MS

Note: ten finalists were presented to our final judge and three of the finalists withdrew their stories prior to our judge’s decision due to winning other contests or accepting publication elsewhere.

$1,000 First Prize in Poetry: “peaches” by Caroline White of Raleigh, NC, judged by Ginger Murchison

Bio: Caroline White is a poet and educator living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She received a BA in English Literature at the University of Maryland and pursued graduate work in creative writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her work explores the connectivity of grief and place through confessional lyricism.

Runners-Up in Poetry

Note: In a rare occurrence, both Runner-Up awards were claimed by one poet.

“Glenwood” by Emily Ransdell of Camas, WA

“If Love Is a Small-Town Blessing” by Emily Ransdell of Camas, WA

Finalists in Poetry

“Childhood” by Antonio Addessi of New York, NY

“Night Train to Paris” by Gary Beaumier of Grafton, WI

“Madre” by Laura Foley of South Pomfret, VT

“Self-Portrait with Litany of Saints” by Karen Kovacik of Indianapolis, IN

“Flashbacks in a Bottle” by Ellaraine Lockie of Sunnyvale, CA

Meet Our Judges



Ginger Murchison started writing poetry after a thirty-one-year teaching career. She earned her MFA from Warren Wilson College, and, together with Thomas Lux, helped found POETRY at TECH at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she served as associate director for five years and as one of its Visiting McEver Chairs in Poetry. She serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of The Frost Place, consults faculty for the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, and is Editor in Chief of the acclaimed Cortland Review. She has two grown children, Arienne and Jason, and lives with her husband Clyde Mynatt in Ft. Myers, Florida.


Short Fiction

Pinckney Benedict grew up on his family’s dairy farm in the mountains of southern West Virginia. He has published three collections of short fiction: Miracle Boy and Other Stories, Town Smokes and The Wrecking Yard, and a novel, Dogs of God. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies including Esquire, Zoetrope: All-Story, StoryQuarterly, Ontario Review, the O. Henry Award series, the New Stories from the South series, the Pushcart Prize anthology, The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, and The Ecco Anthology of Contemporary American Short Fiction. He is the recipient, among other prizes, of a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Literary Fellowship from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, a Michener Fellowship from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award, a Individual Artist grant from the Illinois Arts Council, and Britain’s Steinbeck Award. He is a professor in the English Department at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.


Everyone at Press 53 and Prime Number Magazine thanks the many writers around the world who submitted stories to the 2019 Prime Number Magazine Awards for Poetry and Short Fiction. Writing competitions are always a longshot for any writer, given the personal tastes of the preliminary judges and the final judge, but winning or placing in a strong writing competition can bring your work to the attention of editors and publishers beyond the competition and lead a writer down paths that were previously not available. We appreciate every writer who considers Prime Number Magazine as a way to these paths.

We hope all the writers who entered our competition will keep writing and keep sending us your work by way of our general submissions for Prime Number Magazine and our competitions. We encourage you to visit our website and look at our many opportunities: our FREE 53-Word Story Contest (monthly), the Prime Number Magazine Flash Fiction Contest (quarterly), as well as our manuscript competitions (annually).

We hope everyone will read Issue 163 of Prime Number Magazine on October 1 to help us celebrate our winners and runners-up of the 2019 Prime Number Magazine Awards! And help us celebrate our ninth anniversary by reading Issue 157.

Submissions are open now for Issue 167, which will appear on January 1, 2020. You'll find all the information for general submissions at Submittable.