The Blair Prize

We are thrilled to announce this year’s winner of the David Blair Memorial Prize. Our judge Natalie Diaz has selected Refraction by Michael Lee out of another pool of amazing manuscripts. The prize includes a cash award of $150, 30 author copies, and a high quality video filmed by series editor Jamaal May. The editors are grateful to everyone who trusted us with their words.


2014 Winner: Michael Lee


Michael Lee is a Norwegian American writer, performer and youth worker. He has received grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and Intermedia Arts. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ninth Letter, Indiana Review, Phoebe, The Carolina Quarterly, and Rattle among other journals. Michael has worked as a dishwasher, a farm hand, a traveling performer, and, currently, as a youth counselor serving teens experiencing homelessness in Minneapolis where he lives with many books and a coffee pot.


We are delighted to announce the publication of Last Night I Dreamt of Volcanoes by David Blair Memorial Prize finalist Michelle Peñaloza, forthcoming in the spring of 2015.

Michelle Peñaloza

Penaloza pic


Timothy Aguero Photography

Michelle Peñaloza grew up in Nashville, Tennessee and is the author of the chapbook landscape / heartbreak (Two Sylvas Press, February 2015). Her poetry can be found or is forthcoming from The Asian American Literary Review, The New England Review, TriQuarterly, Pleiades, Pinwheel, and INCH.  She is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the University of Oregon, Kundiman, Artist Trust, Jack Straw, the Richard Hugo House, and Literary Arts, as well as scholarships from PAWA (Philippine American Writers and Artists), Vermont Studio Center, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, among others. She lives in Seattle.


Judge Bio

Natalie Diaz Headshot - credit Rachel Eliza Griffiths Webdiaz-cover-real

Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She played professional basketball in Europe and Asia before earning her MFA at Old Dominion University. Her first book, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press. She lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona, where she works with the last Elder speakers of the Mojave language to document and revitalize the Makav language at Fort Mojave. She and her Elders are building a Mojave language dictionary and encyclopedia. She is a Lannan Fellow as well as a Native Arts Council Foundation Fellow. She teaches in the Institute of American Indian Arts Low Rez MFA program.



In Memory of


See a video of Blair here.

Blair, born David Alan Blair, passed away on July 23, 2011. He was an award-winning, multi-faceted artist: singer-songwriter, poet, writer, performer, musician, community activist and teacher. Born Sept. 19, 1967, he grew up in Newton, N.J., but called Detroit his adopted home.  Blair performed all over the world and has friends on almost every continent. Blair’s work and life leave an indelible impression on the Detroit community as well as all of the communities he touched. The Blair prize honors his legacy.