Congratulations to our April poetry contest winners!

First Place: “Means of Entry” by Cait Shea

Second Place: “Vitamins for Ygdrasilby Corey Mesler

Runner-Up: “Blessure” by Lexys Sillin

Issue No. 8 – Poetry

Backchannels Edition 8 Deteriorating House by William Crawford
“Decaying  House” by William Crawford, taken in Stoneville, NC. The complete artist statement about his process, called Forensic Foraging, can be found here.

Backchannels celebrates national poetry month with our first poetry contest. We do things differently around here: entries were no-fee and we awarded cash prizes to our top winners. Why? Because we know we create the world we live in. We don’t want to exploit hopeful artists trying to find a place for their work and themselves. Art is valuable. Money is a resource we’re willing to trade for it. More importantly, more than ever, we know art keeps us going. It also keeps us connected, rooted, and wild. Poetry is a powerful way to find new paths, less travelled backroads–backchannels, if you will–to think, feel, and be without apology. In poetry, we find fortification and solidarity.

Our first place poem, “Means of Entry” by Cait Shea, is sharp, compelling, and evocative. We love the spare strophes that gain substance as the speaker moves into their interior and become spare again as the narrative moves back into an more cautious emotional space. Language is frequently most beautiful during moments supercharged with tension and maybe longing. This encourages the reader to pause and appreciate how hard it can be to hold such disparate things and how often they go together, like “Your palm rests on my neck, needles / That bore into my skull flower” and “Worthless life, a cockroach watching from the windowsill / Moonlight striking the room with a soft silver point.” This poem captures complex, quiet moments that resonate with universal themes of pain, trust, and hope.

Our second place poem, “Vitamins for Ygdrasilby Corey Mesler, moved the judging panel with its revelatory imagery, allusions, and craftmanship; richly uncomplicated prose uniting the everyday and the eternal.

Our runner-up, “Blessure” by Lexys Sillin, challenges readers with gorgeous explorations into difficult aspects of the human experience.

The rest of the work in this issue–all poetry–hold warm spots in our hearts as well. It was a difficult issue to curate, as we had so many quality submissions. Congratulations to our winners, and thanks to all of our submitters and readers alike.

May this issue help you find your own uncommon way.

Leslie, Laura, and Mary

Featuring work from Cait Shea, Corey Mesler, Lexys Sillin, James Piatt, David Miller, Mackie Garrett, Danielle Gallo, Maureen Moroney, Ralph Monday, Stephen Mead, Jai K Miller, Catherine E. Mintz, John Hicks, John Snethen, Kelsey Bigelow, Aaron Sandberg, Zachery Michael Jack


Woman writing - Backchannels Journal, literary journal in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Submission Window is Currently Closed

We will reopen submissions May 1 – June 1
Check out our submissions page for details!