Announcing the Winners of MQR’s 2019 Prizes

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MQR is pleased to announce to the winners of our 2019 Prizes:

The Goldstein Poetry Prize: Selected by Linda Gregerson

Carolyn Oliver’s “Reading Szymborska Under a Harvest Moon”

Among a richly varied group of finalists, “Reading Szymborska under a Harvest Moon” stood out for its flexible mastery of syntax, imagery, and sonic sequencing. Nor was it the only superb poem submitted by this poet, whose work I am eager to know better in future months and years. -Linda Gregerson

“Reading Szymborska Under a Harvest Moon” will be published in the Summer 2020 issue of MQR.

Carolyn Oliver
Photo Credit: Benjamin Oliver

Carolyn Oliver’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Indiana Review, Cincinnati Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Booth, Glass, Sixth Finch, Southern Indiana Review, Sugar House Review, FIELD, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the Frank O’Hara Prize from the Worcester Review and the Writer’s Block Prize in Poetry. Carolyn lives in Massachusetts with her family. Links to her writing live at

This annual $500 cash prize is awarded to the author of one poem. The winner is selected by an outside judge. The award was established in 2002 by a generous gift from the Office of the President of the University of Michigan in honor of poet and former MQR editor Laurence Goldstein.

The Lawrence Prize: Selected by Laura Kasischke

Sean Gill’s “Dignity and Urgency in Edinburgh and London” published in MQR 58:4

Sean Gill’s “Dignity and Urgency in Edinburgh and London” is a story that is timeless in its evocation of a character trapped between ruin and stasis, and a story that speaks directly to our time: it brings us the news of an individual (who stands for the millions living alongside him) and of the personal tragedies of the powerless, whose lives have become at best an afterthought in the decisions made for them by the powerful and the impersonal. Anthony Nibley/Beefeater Bill is forced to suffer and somehow to survive, with dignity and urgency, within a “magnifcent history blotted with greedy trimmings.” Sean Gill has written an urgently necessary story, creating a character to enact the suffering of so many, and also granting him the dignity he deserves but has been otherwise stripped of and denied—and neither this character nor his story can be forgotten. -Laura Kasischke

Sean Gill

Sean Gill has contributed to The Iowa ReviewMcSweeney’s Internet TendencyZYZZYVAThe Carolina Quarterly, and Joyland. He is the recipient of the 2016 Sonora Review Fiction Prize, The Cincinnati Review’s 2018 Robert and Adele Schiff Award, and Pleiades’ 2019 Gail B. Crump Prize.

The $2,000 Lawrence Prize in fiction is awarded annually to the best story published in MQR that year. Established in 1978, the prize is sponsored by University of Michigan alumnus and fiction writer Leonard S. Bernstein, a trustee of the Lawrence Foundation of New York.

The Page Davidson Clayton Prize: Selected by Katie Willingham

Arash Saedinia’s “Proof” published in MQR 58:2

One of the things I appreciate most about this poem is how it puts form to work with its repetition and the short, sharp lines that build on each other as the poem goes on. I am also drawn to the juxtaposition between the title “Proof” and the repeated word “suppose” forcing me to hold the idea of evidence that can be corroborated and shared in contrast with the realm of the hypothetical. The ending takes this one step further with the opposing “could” and “couldn’t.” The language in this poem carries a tension that strikes me at my core each time I return to it. -Katie Willingham

Arash Saedinia
Photo Credit: Melika Abikenari

Arash Saedinia studied political science at University of California, Berkeley, creative writing at California State University, Northridge, and law at Harvard University. His earliest published poetry appeared in the Iranian diasporic journal Chanteh. A series of his pieces were included in A World Between: Poems, Short Stories, and Essays by Iranian-Americans (Braziller). His translations of poems by Nima Yushij and Sohrab Sepehri appeared in B|ta’arof Magazine, for which he was a contributing editor. He is a professor of English at Los Angeles City College.

Created in 2009 by Mac and Meg Clayton to honor the memory of Page Davidson Clayton, this prize, in the amount of $500, is awarded by the editors each year to the best poet appearing in Michigan Quarterly Review who has yet to publish a book.