After filtering through around a thousand submissions, the Writers Alliance of Gainesville will debut its 13th Bacopa Literary Review on Sunday at the Millhopper Library.
The 2022 edition will feature 76 contributors from Gainesville and around the world, including winners from Missouri, Minnesota, India and Scotland. This year’s review contains five genres: fiction, creative nonfiction, humor, formal poetry, free-verse poetry and visual poetry.
The Bacopa staff picked a winner and honorable mention from each genre who won $200 and $100.
Sunday’s debut will run from 2:30-4 p.m. and will also be live streamed. The event will include readings by local contributors and editors will read winning works.
“Once again, we got just an incredible flood of submissions from all over the planet,” J.N. Fishhawk said in a phone interview.
Fishhawk filled the role of associate editor last year and stepped into the editor-in-chief position for 2022. He said the flood of submissions requires two to three months of daily readings to keep up.
“I can’t complain; it wasn’t the rockiest start at all,” Fishhawk said. “I had a great time just getting to really look at the whole project from the 1000-yard kind of perspective that the editor-in-chief has as opposed to being a genre editor.”
Putting together the review takes hundreds of volunteer hours from the genre editors, associate editor and the new managing editor position.
This year, the poetry editors sent a request for works about the impact of COVID-19 and other health issues on communities of color. Fishhawk said Bacopa has never asked for submissions along a certain theme before. For some editions, themes emerge organically, like the use of birds in the 2021 edition, Fishhawk said.
“This year, not so much, not so many common or cohesive themes,” he said. “That’s another thing that’s really fun about it, though. It’s so different every time. We never know what people are going to send us.”
The pandemic, he said, remained a topic throughout the upcoming edition along with trees.
Following Sunday’s event, the Bacopa staff will start planning for the 2023 edition, deciding on genres and even cover art.
Fishhawk said the Bacopa has reached out to local visual artists also involved in the writing world for the past four or five years. The artist develops a series of front cover options that the staff decide on. This year, Judi Cain created the artwork.
The next edition will involve hundreds of more volunteer hours. Fishhawk said a love of the work and seeing the diversity of submissions makes the effort worth it.
“Especially at a time when we’re so divided and pitted against each other—economically and politically and culturally—to do something that brings people together in a creative way feels like an antidote to some of that poison.”
2022 Winners and Honorable Mentions:
- Winner: “An Act of Kindness” by Murzban F. Shroff
- Honorable Mention: “Benny & Bjorn” by Lilia Anderson
Creative Nonfiction Award
- Winner: “Girl, Sunsplit” by Neethu Krishnan
- Honorable Mention: “Waiting” by Miki Lentin
- Winner: “How Busy I Was” by Marjorie Drake
- Honorable Mention: “Show and Tell to Remember” by Victoria Lynn Smith
Formal Poetry Award
- Winner: “Amelia’s Freckle Cream” by Shauna Osborn
- Honorable Mention: “All love poems are horror poems when you are the creature” by Richaundra Thursday
Free-Verse Poetry Award
- Winner: “Listen to Gala’s mutterings” by Sylvia Anne Telfer
- Honorable Mention: “In the Name of the Name” by Sunyoung Kay
Visual Poetry Award
- Winner: “A Change in Mood II” by Karla Van Vliet
- Honorable Mention: “NEWS” by J. Nishida