Introducing Creative Nonfiction Editor Brendan Stephens

We are thrilled to introduce Brendan Stephens as our new online Creative Nonfiction editor for Aquifer!

Brendan Stephens is a writer and educator from Appalachia. His work has appeared in The Georgia Review, The PinchEpochthe Southeast ReviewCleaver Magazine, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. His awards include multiple Inprint Donald Barthelme awards, an Into the Void Fiction Prize, a Sequestrum Emerging Writer Award, and inclusion in Wigleaf’s Top 50 Very Short Fictions. He earned his Ph.D. in creative writing and literature from the University of Houston and an MFA from the University of Central Florida. Currently, he is an assistant professor of English at Northwestern Oklahoma State University and a submissions editor for SmokeLong Quarterly.


2023-2024 Jeanne Leiby Chapbook Award Winner!

We are thrilled to announce that Kate Osana Simonian is our 2023-2024 Jeanne Leiby Chapbook Award Winner! Her chapbook, The Screw, will be published and available to purchase in March 2025. 

Kate Osana Simonian is an Armenian-Australian writer, and she’s currently an assistant professor at California State University, San Bernardino. Her work has been published in the Pushcart Anthology, Chicago Tribune, Iowa Review, and Best Australian Stories, and she’s received various accolades including the Nelson Algren Award, a John Steinbeck Fellowship, and a California Arts Council Emerging Writer Grant. Kate lives with her partner and two delightful cats, who are helping her to finish her first novel, Singleton. Ask her about it! Or check her out at

About The Screw, from judge Mark Polanzak:

The Screw is a super tight, dazzling novella about a young woman lured into an abusive relationship with a common monster of a boyfriend. The protagonist—a second-person “You”—seems to be following instructions from an internal authority that dictates how to succeed at failure. But this real-life horror story of insidious psychological abuse is told with stunning wit and innovation. This novella evokes Ann Beattie and Ottessa Moshfegh, but the writing has a velocity all its own.

The Screw is a page-turner for its sentences as much as its storyline. Because of the whip-smart humor and consistently fresh way this tale is spun, I felt a rare joyful discomfort while reading about the creeping control the abuser takes from our protagonist. The Screw manages to do what fiction should: submerge the reader in an experience rather than tell them about one.


About the judge for the 2023-2024 Jeanne Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award, Mark Polanzak:

Mark Polanzak is the author of the hybrid work POP! (Stillhouse) and the story collection, The OK End of Funny Town (BOA Editions), which won the BOA Short Fiction Prize. His short stories and essays have appeared in The Southern ReviewThe American ScholarDIAGRAM, and anthologized in Best American Nonrequired Reading. Mark co-founded the literary magazine, draft: the journal of process, and co-produced the podcast, The Fail Safe. A graduate of the University of Arizona’s MFA Program in Fiction, Mark teaches creative writing, literature, and podcasting at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He lives in Rhode Island.


2023-2024 Jeanne Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award Finalists

We are so excited to announce the finalists for our 2023-2024 Jeanne Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award!

Mary Kate Coleman, “Wednesday Trash Day”

Will Musgrove, “After Last Call”

Kate Osana Simonian, “The Screw”

Each year, The Florida Review honors former editor Jeanne Leiby with the publication of a prose or graphic narrative chapbook. To purchase one of our previous winners’ chapbooks, please see our Store, and for more information about Jeanne Leiby, the award in her honor, and previous chapbook winners and finalists, please see our Jeanne Leiby Memorial Chapbook Series page.