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Announcing the Winners of Puerto del Sol's 2021 Poetry & Prose Contest!

We're thrilled to announce the winning poetry and prose piece for our 2021 contest. The prose contest finalists were judged by Eileen Pollack and the poetry finalists were judged by Todd Dillard.

Poetry Contest Winner:

"One of my favorite things for a poem to do—and one of the most difficult things, I think, for a poem to do—is to use structure as metaphor. The quatrains in “The Stain” do just this, serving as a vehicles that the narrator (who is angered, afraid, frustrated, tired) must maneuver through—what, the road? The psyche? The systemically racist and police-empowered landscape of these so-called United States? Rayshard Brooks’ unreachable “home”? This, coupled with the poem’s flawless language, would be sufficient to make a great poem. But what makes this poem surpass greatness is the way it plunges into its subject matter, and easily and immediately pulls us along too. “How should I look him in the eye, when I know / he shouldn’t be here, sitting in the backseat” is such a deft dramatic turn—and who doesn’t feel the boulder-heavy exhaustion of the poem’s shortest sentence? “God dammit.” What follows this—a turn to the interior, an explication of a heartless landscape—is powerfully, unflinchingly wrought. But it’s the final lines that stay with me the most, when the ghost of Brooks (whose voice is notably not differentiated from the narrator’s) says in the poem’s final line: “to rest. Let’s pretend nothing is chasing us.” What a terrible weight that “pretend” holds. What sharp teeth that “nothing” has. In a field of many incredible poems, 'The Stain' stood out to me the most with its blend of craft, beauty, courage, sorrow, voice, and profundity."

-Todd Dillard

Prose Contest Winner:

"I found this piece to be utterly original in every way, beautifully voiced, thematically clear and resonant without ever becoming obvious or didactic. Everything about this story was as wonderfully satisfying as, well, mother's milk, and yet the pleasures all seemed well earned. I felt as if I were reading the work of a contemporary feminist successor of Garcia Marquez!"

-Eileen Pollack

Prose Honorable Mention:


"'Appetite' is a beautifully written, brutally realistic story about the world of work inside a poultry plant and the heroic sacrifices seemingly ordinary people are forced to make for those they love."

-Eileen Pollack

Congratulations to our winners, and thank you to all who submitted. Special thanks to our judges for taking the time to read these splendid pieces so carefully.

Both winning pieces can be read online here and here, and will appear in our upcoming print issue this spring.


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