Poetry Festival News

Tupelo Press Announces Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Award

Tupelo Press is especially delighted to announce that our judge, Kimiko Hahn, has selected Why Misread a Cloud by Emily Carlson of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as winner of the 2022 Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Award.  

Emily Carlson is a mother, a teacher, and the director of Art in the Garden, a liberatory, anti-racist, LGBTQA+ welcoming, and joy-centered program that addresses the impacts of childhood adversity and trauma. She’s the author of two chapbooks, Symphony No. 2 (Argos Books, 2015) and I Have a Teacher (The Center for Book Arts, 2016). Her poems have appeared in Aufgabe, Bloom, Denver Quarterly, Fence, jubilat, and other journals. With friends, she runs the Bonfire Reading Series. Emily lives with her partner and their three children in an intentional community centered around an urban garden in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Here’s what our contest judge, Kimiko Hahn, had to say about the winning chapbook:

In brief paragraphs that are neither prose nor prose poems, we meet a witness. A speaker who is not in her country of origin. A woman living in the air of violence. Militarization. And very occasionally, a mundane gesture–adding sugar to tea. The spareness creates a poetics that is, at once, elegantly stark and akin to journalism. We read between the lines because what is unsaid, makes this a poetry of image and association. What was once a broom for sweeping a kitchen, is used by a woman to sweep propaganda leaflets off the street. I find myself engaged in a place–to a place, really–where there are ballistic helmets. Yes, strange and strangely familiar. This is how art and dreams work: with the familiarity of knowing and the dissassociation that can allow insight.

Our sincere congratulations to Emily Carlson, whose book will be out in time for her debut reading this summer at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival.

2021 Fresh Voices Winners

Congratulations to the 2021 Fresh Voices Winners!

Enjoy reading more about these talented students. Then, please join us at Hill-Stead on June 23, 2021, for Young Poets Day to experience their poetry in person. These impressive poets will open for author and award-winning national poet Chen Chen!


Eve Brouillard is currently a senior at Rockville High School, the trumpet section leader of the marching band, and a Humanities scholar.  Eve spends a lot of time reading and writing, as well as creating more stories with friends through Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop games.  They love to seek inspiration by walking through outdoor trails as well as museums, taking photos along the way.  Eve won an honorable mention in the 2019 Scholastic Art and Writing Contest and had two works published in the Connecticut Student Writer 2020 magazine.  This year, they received the gold key in the Scholastic Awards for poetry.  In the future, Eve hopes to continue writing and publishing their original poetry.

Nora Holmes is a rising senior at Hall High School where she also runs track and cross country. She has been recognized by NCTE, The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, The New York Times, and the Connecticut Student Writers project. When she is not writing or running, you can find her laughing at her own jokes and starting debates in her history classes. 

JaMara “Mara” Jean is a rising senior who currently attends The Westover School. Mara has been writing poetry since she was in the 5th grade. During some time in the 7th grade, Mara was handpicked by a teacher to write, memorize, and perform at a Slam Poetry Show. When she began high school, she took part in her first production ever, Much Ado About Nothing. Since then, she’s acted in seven productions at her school and is currently the First Drama Head. She can thank her theatrical knowledge and ability to the many productions she has been in thus far and her poetic ability to both her teacher in 7th grade who encouraged her to write slam poetry and Thomas Juvan, who taught her everything she has learned about poetry at Westover. 

Valli Pendyala is a sophomore at South Windsor High School. She is a member of her school’s mock trial and Model United Nations teams, and she is the president of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance. Valli is also a member of South Windsor Future Leaders in Politics. Over the summer, Valli plans to attend the National Student Leadership Conference Political Action & Public Policy program. Valli is passionate about participating in the political process and advocating for issues she is passionate about, both locally and nationally. In her spare time, Valli enjoys reading, spending time with her sister, and learning about history. She is currently working for her Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts, and has previously earned her Silver Award. Valli plans to major in political science and economics.

Cindy Truong is a senior at Platt High School in Meriden and the Educational Center for the Arts, where she studies creative writing. She will be attending New York University this upcoming fall and plans to major in English. Cindy finds inspiration in her Vietnamese heritage and culture along with her Vietnamese-American experience. She’d like to give her biggest gratitude to her teachers and workshop at ECA, for being the place that nurtured her and allowed her to find her voice.

2021 Fresh Voices Winners!

THANK YOU to all the students who participated in the 2021 Fresh Voices Poetry Competition, and to the teachers and parents who support them!

We are immensely grateful to this year’s Fresh Voices Judges: Frederick-Douglass Knowles II, Luisa Caycedo-Kimura, and Sophie Spaner.

On May 12, Fresh Voices finalists read their poetry for this prestigious panel of judges. At the conclusion of the readings, the following winners were announced:

Eve Brouillard Rockville High School
Nora Holmes William H. Hall High School
Jamara Jean Westover High School
Valli Pendyala South Windsor High School
Cindy Truong ACES Educational Center for the Arts

What’s next for the winners? On Wednesday, June 23, they will participate in a Young Poets Celebration. Better yet, these impressive young poets will open for author and award-winning national poet Chen Chen!

Fresh Voices Judges

Fresh Voices 2021 Finalists Announced

Hill-Stead proudly announces the 2021 Fresh Voices Poetry Competition Finalists!

Their work represents a collective of young creatives of the region. We are honored to have received so many extraordinary poems and grateful to all the teachers and parents who supported them. Our heartfelt congratulations to the following finalists:

  • Prisca Afantchao, Windsor High School
  • Caroline Bartolotta, Rockville High School
  • Julia Baun, William H. Hall High School
  • Madeleine Brouillard, Rockville High School
  • Sara Cove, Rockville High School
  • Nora Holmes, William H. Hall High School
  • JaMara Jean, Westover School
  • Kevin Delgado Manea, Weston High School
  • Lexi Mays, Westover High School
  • Violet McCabe, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts
  • Katrina Melnik, Avon High School
  • Cali Miville, Rockville High School
  • Valli Pendyala, South Windsor High School
  • Eleanor Polak, ACES Educational Center for the Arts
  • Cindy Truong, ACES Educational Center for the Arts

Hill-Stead Museum also wishes to thank this year’s Fresh Voices readers, Barbara P. Greenbaum and Victoria Nordlund. Thank you for your thoughtful read and review of each submission and for selecting these finalists to present their poetry in front of a live panel of judges on Wednesday, May 12 at 5 pm.

This year’s Fresh Voices Judges will be Frederick-Douglass Knowles II, Luisa Caycedo-Kimura, and Sophie Spaner.


Wednesday, May 12 @ 5 pm 
The Fresh Voices finalists will read before a panel of judges; we will announce four to six Fresh Voices winners that evening. *

Wednesday, June 23
Young Poets Celebration featuring the Fresh Voices winners. These impressive young poets will open for author and award-winning national poet Chen Chen! *

Please note: *Fresh Voices winners must be available to participate in this performance!

Fresh Voices finalists will be given complimentary passes to the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, held September 10-12, 2021.

The Fresh Voices winning poems will also be featured in our online publication of Theodate, Hill-Stead’s poetry journal. And, for the first time, each winner of the Fresh Voices adjudicated reading will receive a monetary prize award!

On behalf of everyone at Hill-Stead, we look forward to sharing your Fresh Voices and celebrating poetry together!

Thank you to our sponsors and donors who make Fresh Voices possible

Ellen Jeanne Goldfarb Memorial Charitable Trust

The Goldfarb Family

With additional support from Becky & Tom Trutter


Fresh Voices 2021 Judges Announced

Meet our Fresh Voices Judges

Hill-Stead is delighted to announce our 2021 Fresh Voices judges, Frederick-Douglass Knowles II, Luisa Caycedo-Kimura, and Sophie Spaner. The judges will review the poems by this year’s finalists. Please enjoy their incredible bios.

Frederick-Douglass Knowles II (left) is an educator and activist passionate about achieving community augmentation through literary arts. He is the inaugural Poet Laureate for the City of Hartford. His works have been selected as finalists for the New England Association of Teachers of English (NEATE) Poet of the Year Award. Nominated for the Pushcart Prize, has received various poetry awards, including the Nutmeg Poetry Award and the 2020 Connecticut Arts Fellow in Artist Excellence for Poetry/Creative Non-Fiction. Knowles holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Eastern Connecticut State University and penned BlackRoseCity, a poetry book. Currently, he is an Associate Professor of English at Three Rivers Community College in Norwich, CT.

Luisa Caycedo-Kimura (center) is a Colombian-born writer, translator, and educator. Her honors include a John K. Walsh Residency Fellowship at the Anderson Center, an Adrienne Reiner Hochstadt Fellowship at Ragdale, and a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship in Poetry. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, she has received various poetry awards. A former attorney, Caycedo-Kimura left the legal profession to pursue her passion for writing. She holds an MFA from Boston University. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in The Cincinnati ReviewSunken Garden Poetry 1992-2011, RHINO, Diode, Shenandoah, Mid-American ReviewNashville Review, The Night Heron Barks, Louisiana Literature, among others. Currently, she is an Assistant Editor for the Connecticut River Review.

Sophie Spaner (right) is an 18-year-old writer, singer-songwriter, and artist from Deep River, Connecticut. She was a Fresh Voices Poet in 2017. She is currently taking a gap year and will be attending Yale University in the fall, where she plans to major in Film and Media Studies. During her gap year, she has been working as a quality control consultant for both foreign and American independent films with the international film distributor Kino Lorber. In her free time, she enjoys learning new instruments and expanding her artistic practice.

Announcing the winners of the 2020 Fresh Voices Poetry Competition

Congratulations, Poets!

The winners are:

Haneen Alkabasi, Avon High School
Alicia Chiu, William H. Hall High School
Jake Colangelo, Joel Barlow High School
Olatunji Osho-Williams, Westminster School
Maggie Munday Odom, The Grove School
Charlotte Watts, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts


For the first time, the Fresh Voices readings were performed live via zoom.  Many things were missing from the event—the historical and beautiful setting, the applause of the crowd, live music, and contemplative silences between each reading.  Zoom can never replace live art.  But even virtually, the students’ poetry was transcending.  For one evening, these young poets created a community through their creativity, intense curiosity, and commitment.

Hill-Stead Museum is grateful to all the Fresh Voices Finalists for their efforts and willingness to participate. We are immensely appreciative of the Fresh Voices Judges, who had a challenging task this year!  Thanks, too, to parents and teachers who supported our poets! A special thanks to Hill-Stead Museum’s sponsors and donors, especially the Ellen Jean Goldfarb Memorial Charitable Trust, our members, and our amazing interns and volunteers.

A video compilation of the Fresh Voices Poetry Competition reading will be coming soon for everyone to enjoy!

Please join us at the opening of the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival on Sunday, August 9. Winners will read their poems in person at Young Poets Day featuring acclaimed spoken word poet and activist, Mahogany L. Browne.

Learn more about the Fresh Voice Poetry Competition 

2019 Fresh Voices Finalists Announced

Hill-Stead is honored to announce the finalists for the 2019 Fresh Voices Poetry Competition:

  • Riley Arellano – Naugatuck High School
  • Emily Benoit – Westover School
  • Sophia Ciraldo – Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts
  • Elizabeth Cook – Westover School
  • Danny Diaz- Villafane – Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts
  • Emily Fisher – Rockville High School
  • Liza Freeman – Westover School
  • Stella Georgian – East Lyme High School
  • Krista Mitchell – Stafford High School
  • Fiona Mucaj – The Ethel Walker School
  • Autumn Munsell – Granby Memorial High School
  • Jillian Potter – Naugatuck High School
  • Camden Robertson – Granby Memorial High School
  • Abigail Tyrrell – Rockville High School
  • Ava Varano – Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts

2018 Fresh Voices Finalists Announced

Hill-Stead is honored to announce the finalists for the 2019 Fresh Voices Poetry Competition:

Vanecia Fultz
Jamie Masthay
Sarah Lewis
Elliana Branchesi
Ellis McGinley
Adena Ajike
Abigail Tyrrel
Lauren Dionne
Molly Galusha
Kennedy King
Molly Alexander
Kimberly McGuire
Daniel Diaz-Villafane
Alex Nordlund
Youssef Mezrioui
Rachel Justice



Tupelo Press is delighted to announce that Major Jackson has selected Chaun Ballard as the winner of the 2018 Sunken Garden Poetry Prize!

Chaun Ballard will be reading at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival on July 11, 2018.  For details, see our Calendar.

Flight by Chaun Ballard

Chaun Ballard was raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and San Bernardino, California, and has an MFA from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. For eight years now, he and his wife have been teaching in the Middle East and West Africa. Chaun Ballard’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in ANMLY (FKA Drunken Boat), Columbia Poetry Review, Frontier Poetry, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Puerto del Sol, Rattle, and other literary magazines. His work has received nominations for both Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize.


The poems in Flight unspool a rich and charmed history of survival into songs that celebrate the miracle of endurance in a country defined by the peculiar phenomenon of race; many of the poems in this collection explore (or allude to) the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson with a brilliance that is underscored by the poets’ extraordinary sense of sound to etch a new reality in our ears. Here the poet employs the perennial powers of poetic forms (pantoum, ghazals, and sonnets, not to mention the Stevens imitation of 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird) to refresh staid conversations and to lyrically give voice to the good fortune of travel and language. Whether reveling in having reached middle-age or recalling that fateful day, September 11th, Flight issues its own battle cry and imaginatively addresses one of the great complexities of our time.

—Judge’s Citation by Major Jackson


Symptoms by Nava EtShalom
Adoption by Adam Falkner
Dislocated Cities by Lisa Hiton
Speyer by Lisa Hiton
Where’s The Heat by Maggie Millner
Subnivean by Emily Pittinos
One Sentence To Save in a Cataclysm by Stephanie Strickland
Hallelujah in a Dead Tongue by Mark Wagenaar
What Follows by H.R. Webster


In the Herald of Improbable Fortunes by Robert Campbell
Desert Selkie by Avra Elliott
Year of the Girl by Karen Harryman
The Old Works by Whittney Jones
Sublingual by Joan Kane
Big Man by Michael Marberry
Sympathy by Dusty Neu
Respira by Valorie Ruiz
This Late Hour by Joe Wilkins
The Escapist: Poems by Marco Yan

We’d like to recognize and thank so very appreciatively our extraordinary panel of preliminary readers: Maureen Alsop, Claudia Cortese, Noah Falck, Toby Martinez de las Rivas, Michael Robins, Henk Rossouw, Shelly Taylor, and Allison Titus.


Emily Jungmin Yoon chosen as winner of the Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Prize

Tupelo Press is delighted to announce that Maggie Smith has chosen Ordinary Misfortunes by Emily Jungmin Yoon of Chicago, Illinois, as winner of the 2017 Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Prize.

Emily will perform her work in at Hill-Stead’s Sunken Garden Poetry Festival on Wednesday, July 19.  For tickets, visit Sunken Garden Poetry Festival 2017.

I’m completely taken in by these poems, how they deftly balance lyric and narrative, history and the present, body and mind. These are poems of violence–against women, and against Korean women in particular–but they are also poems about the pain and pleasure in language itself: ‘pear in Korean is a homonym for ship or boat’; ‘A homonym for apple is apology.’ Ordinary Misfortunes is a remarkable collection.
—Maggi Smith


Emily Jungmin Yoon‘s poems and translations appear or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Offing, The Literary Review, and elsewhere. For her poetry, she has received awards and fellowships from Ploughshares’ Emerging Writer’s Contest, AWP’s WC&C Scholarship Competition, The Home School in Miami, the Aspen Institute, New York University, and the University of Chicago. She is the Poetry Editor for The Margins, the literary magazine of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and is a PhD student in the East Asian Languages and Civilizations Department at the University of Chicago.