Rising Phoenix Winners!

Rising Phoenix Winners!

On Wednesday, nearly 50 people came together in a Zoom meeting to celebrate the Spring 2020 issue of Sheepshead Review. Wow! It was impossible for us to not have an overwhelming feeling of joy being able to celebrate with you.

One of the highlights of the launch party was getting to showcase the winners from our Rising Phoenix contest. Every spring, Sheepshead Review holds a contest to honor the top writing and visual arts submissions from our UWGB students, which are judged by local and national recognized artists and writers. This year, the UWGB winners for the Rising Phoenix contest were Lori Noto for our poetry genre, Josette Ott for fiction, Steffi Farrey for nonfiction, and Symphanie Lynch for visual arts. We wanted to recognize each of the winners and provide some of the commentary that was given to them by our esteemed judges.

“The Drugs We Sell: A Candidly Unpoetic Haibun” by Lori Noto

Here’s an excerpt on what our poetry judge Lisa Fay Coutely had to say about Lori’s poem:

“What I admire most about “The Drugs We Sell: A Candidly Unpoetic Haibun” is its willingness to risk getting too close to its subject matter and putting itself in danger of becoming sentimental about a theme that in other hands might feel didactic; instead, the poem tempers that boundary with music, metaphor, and syntactical surprise. It knows its risk and uses the haibun, a from often reserved for nature or travel, to approach a common (and maybe too-often untold) story of another sort of traveler lost but seen, by the speaker, not for his perceived shortcomings but for his need—the ways the world is failing him.”

You can check out a sample of Lori’s work above. It is an emotional and heart-breaking read, but is rich in it’s metaphors and writing style.

“Swimming Lessons” by Josette Ott

During the launch party, fiction judge Gregory Lee Renz gave Josette the kind of praise every writer wants to hear at least one in their lifetime. Here is an excerpt from his written commentary on “Swimming Lessons”:

“The author is fearless on the page and writes unflinchingly with no wasted words or descriptions. The sentences are well-crafted and polished. The descriptive action verbs and sensory details bring this story to life. The result is a story that brims with emotion; one that’s impossible to look away from.”

“Tricks of the Mind” by Steffi Farrey

Unfortunately Rising Phoenix winner Steffi Farrey was unable to attend the virtual launch party, but our nonfiction judge B.J. Hollars provides the perfect commentary on “Tricks of the Mind”:

“Visceral, scenic, reflective and timeless, too, “Tricks of the Mind” makes use of the full writer’s toolbox: weaving together past and present with spot on prose. In this piece, we’re not merely observing a car crash from afar, we’re bearing witness to it. This piece turns trauma into truth. We couldn’t look away, even if we wanted to.”

The Purple Girl by Symphanie Lynch

Created with colored pencil, pen, and marker, The Purple Girl makes it impossible for you to look away. Here is what visual art’s judge Craig Knitt had to say about the work:

“The Purple Girl immediately engages with her cold, hard stare. I am drawn to her eyes, not only due to a basic need for human engagement but also due to the surrounding splashes of color and line. Her proportions are spot-on and the technique is wonderous. Why is she giving such a distant stare? Perhaps the answer is hidden in the poems that make up the background. Ironically, the text adds texture as well as a resting place for the eye… depending on how I take it in. The Purple Girl is a smart, beautiful piece of work!”


As always, we are so proud of the talented students on UW-Green Bay’s campus. It was a delight for our genre staff to be able to read and view the works that were submitted. Congratulations to the Rising Phoenix winners for the Spring 2020 semester!

We also want to thank everyone who joined us to commemorate Volume 42 no. 2 of Sheepshead Review. Our staff worked hard to bring the issue together amidst the changes COVID-19 brought, and we are so proud of what we accomplished. However, none of it would have been possible without our contributors and the support we receive. Thank you.

We thought it was appropriate to finish this last post of the semester with an excerpt from Zach Schneider’s Letter to the Editor:

“The Shepherd is in each of us, just needing a flock to tend to. We are all a part of the family, city, state, country, and global community, and the only way to overcome challenges like COVID-19 is through caring for one another. If you follow The Shepherd within yourself, they will lead you to positively impacting those around you.”

Thank you for a wonderful semester,

Your SHR staff



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