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The RHR Poetry Prize

“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.”
Albert Camus


Congratulations to the winner of the first
River Heron Review poetry prize.

Alina Stefanescu for “Proper Fugue”

Congratulations also to the four finalists:
Nancy Defoe for “Ekphrastic Apogee”
Joe Amaral for “Epochal”
Wendy Steginsky for “Bermudian Twilight”
Janine Certo for “Losing a Religion

A $500 prize was awarded to the winning poet, Alina Stefanescu.
The winning poet and four finalists were published in the August 1 issue, along with commentary on each poem by the judge for the contest, John Sibley Williams.

Read the winning poems and the judge’s commentary.

Thank you to all who submitted to the contest.


Poet John Sibley Williams is the final judge for the River Heron Review poetry contest. He is the author of As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Poetry Prize, 2019), Skin Memory (Backwaters Prize, 2019), Disinheritance, and Controlled Hallucinations. A nineteen-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Phyllis Smart-Young Prize, The 46er Prize, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors' Prize, Confrontation Poetry Prize, and Laux/Millar Prize. He serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a literary agent. Previous publishing credits include: The Yale Review, Midwest Quarterly, Southern Review, Sycamore Review, Prairie Schooner, The Massachusetts Review, Poet Lore, Saranac Review, Atlanta Review, TriQuarterly, Columbia Poetry Review, Mid-American Review, Poetry Northwest, Third Coast, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon. 

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2019 CONTEST INFORMATION (now closed):

  • Submissions open March 1 through May 31, 2019

  • Initial judging will be done by the editors of River Heron Review.

  • Final judging will be done by John Sibley Williams.

  • The winning poem will be announced in July.

  • Four finalists’ poems will be announced in July.

  • The poem of the winner and poem of each of the four finalists will be published in Issue 2.2 on August 1, 2019.

  • There is a $15 submission fee.

  • Poets may submit up to 3 poems, 5 pages maximum.

  • Poets who wish to submit again will incur an additional submission fee.

  • Previously published poems are not eligible.

  • Simultaneous submissions are accepted. Let us know immediately if your work has been accepted elsewhere by sending us a note through Submittable.

  • Your name or initials should not appear on any part of your poetry document, nor should your name or initials appear in the “Title” field of the Submittable form. When naming your file, do not use your initials or any part of your name.

  • All submissions through Submittable.