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.



2024 Pushcart Prize Nominations

We are thrilled to announce our 2024 Pushcart Prize Nominations! Congratulations and the best of luck to all!

Emma DePanise, “Utilities”
Kim Garcia, “Petition”
Bret Shepard, “On Ice”

Introducing Creative Nonfiction Editor Terry Ann Thaxton

We’re making it official—meet Terry Ann Thaxton, a creative nonfiction editor with The Florida Review. Thaxton joined our team as an editor over the summer, but she’s no stranger to TFR.

Thaxton’s poetry and creative nonfiction–rooted in Florida landscape and history–explore the individual’s place in family and community, women’s issues, mental illness, and silenced voices of the past and present. Her books of poetry include Getaway Girl, The Terrible Wife, and Mud Song. She’s been awarded two Florida Book Awards, the Jeffrey E. smith Editors Prize at The Missouri Review for nonfiction, and the T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays have been published in Pithead Chapel, New Letters, Chattahoochee Review, Hayden’s Ferry, The Missouri Review, and other literary journals. She has an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing. Thaxton is a professor at the University of Central Florida and directs the graduate programs in English.


Announcing Our 2023 Nominations for the Best of the Net Anthology

Aquifer: The Florida Review Online is thrilled to announce the nominations for the 2023 Best of the Net Anthology! The Best of the Net is an anthology created by Sundress Publications that accepts pieces first published online in the categories of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art. To read more about the Best of the Net anthology, check out their webpage.

Aquifer receives many wonderful pieces each year, and we are so excited to showcase our 2023 nominations. Best of luck to the nominees! 

Poetry Nominations:
“Nurture” by Jacques J. Rancourt
“Cool Side of the Pillow” by Cynthia Atkins
“Blues for King Kong” by Sihle Ntuli
“Content” by Allan Peterson
“Christmas Eve“ by Chelsea Dingman
“Witness Statement” by Kyle McCord
Fiction Nominations:
“Junior Steaks” by Anney Bolgiano
“75 Simple Steps to Positive, Growing Change” by Andreas Trolf
Nonfiction Nominations:
“Mythogenesis” by Suzanne Manizza Rosak
“What Comes in the Night” by Ariél Martinez
Visual Art Nominations:
“Heirloom” by Catherine-Esther Cowie
“The Queen of All the Dirt” by Catherine Esther-Cowie


Announcing the winner of the 2022-2023 Jeanne Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award

Congratulations to CB Anderson, our 2022-2023 winner of the Jeanne Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award! Her winning chapbook, “Blue Lion Days,” will be published in April 2024.

Melanie Bishop, a judge of the contest, had this to say about the contest and Anderson’s work:

The seven finalists sent to me by series editor David James Poissant had so much range, I wanted to assign a host of awards: Most Moving, Most Brilliant, Most Rich, Most Inventive, Most Original, Most Surprising. Congratulations to all of the finalists; you are all worthy.

CB Anderson’s Blue Lion Days emerged as the clear winner. From the start, lines like “I was fifteen and getting in trouble for no real reason apart from puberty,” had me trusting Anderson to give it to me straight. But this was more than trust, or feeling I was in such capable hands; this cycle is impeccably well-crafted and unified, with a thumping heart at its center.

These linked stories build on one another, each deepening the portrait of this economically depressed mill town on a river in Maine. As we experience the town—its residents, the paper mill, the river—from the perspectives of several different characters, we are privy to the undercurrents driving each of them, forces seemingly as preordained and irreversible as the current of the river itself. And while some of these lives look bleak—their histories, struggles, disappointments, and defeats—what returns to the surface, again and again, is the notion of resurrection.

Sometimes, even the smell of bread baking lets you know you will survive.

CB Anderson’s work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Narrative, North American Review, Crazyhorse, and elsewhere. Her book Home Now was a 2019 LitHub Fall Preview pick, and a collection River Talk was a Kirkus Best Books of 2014. Awards include the 2022 Winning Writers Tom Howard prize and 2nd place in the Zoetrope: All-Story contest. She lives in Maine with her family.


Announcing the Winner of the Editor’s Prize for Poetry

Congratulations to Caleb A.P. Parker, our 2023 winner for the Editor’s Prize in Poetry! His poem, “Palinode,” will be available to read in our Spring 2024 issue.

Caleb A.P. Parker, a writer and musician from the industrialized Gulf Coast of Texas, was raised by two Episcopal priests. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Colorado Review, Ninth Letter, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and currently lives in New York City.


Announcing the Winner of the Editor’s Prize for Creative Nonfiction

Congratulations to Faith Shearin, our 2023 winner for the Editor’s Prize in Creative Nonfiction! Her essay, “Going Home,” will be available to read in our Spring 2024 issue.

Faith Shearin’s seven books of poetry include: The Owl Question (May Swenson Award), Telling the Bees (SFA University Press), Orpheus, Turning (Dogfish Poetry Prize), Darwin’s Daughter (SFA University Press), and Lost Language (Press 53). Her poems have been read aloud on The Writer’s Almanac and included in American Life in Poetry. She has received awards from Yaddo, The National Endowment for the Arts, and The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her essays and short stories have won awards from New Ohio Review, The Missouri Review, and Literal Latte, among others. Two YA novels — Lost River, 1918 and My Sister Lives in the Sea — won The Global Fiction Prize, judged by Anthony McGowan, and have been published by Leapfrog Press.