Juniper Literary Prizes Announced


Amherst, MA – April 1, 2016–In celebration of our forty-year commitment to contemporary letters, the University of Massachusetts Press in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Amherst MFA Program for Poets and Writers announce the winners of the 2016 Juniper Prizes in poetry and in fiction.

For the first publication in poetry prize: Elizabeth Metzger, The Spirit Papers.

Elizabeth Metzger is a graduate of Brown University and the MFA program at Columbia University, where she teaches writing and works in the writing center. She is the poetry editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal. In 2013, she won the Narrative Poetry Contest, and her work has recently appeared (or is forthcoming) in the July 6th issue of The New Yorker, Kenyon Review Online, The Yale Review, Guernica, and Narrative, among other places. She was named one of Narrative Magazine’s 30 Under 30 and was selected for the anthology Best New Poets 2015 by Tracy K. Smith. She was a Factory Hollow Press Fellow at the Juniper Writing Institute in 2015 and a University Writing Fellow at Columbia University from 2013-2015. Her essays and reviews appear in PN Review, the Southwest Review, Boston Review, and Harriet.

For the poetry prize: Nancy Takacs, The Worrier.

Nancy Takacs is the author of three poetry chapbooks: Pale Blue Wings and Juniper (Limberlost Press, 2001 and 2010), and Wild Animals (Outlaw Artist Press, 2008); and two full-length books of poetry Preserves (City Art Press, 2004) and Blue Patina (Blue Begonia Press, 2015). She is a former wilderness studies instructor and creative writing professor at the College of Eastern Utah in Price, and has, for the past decade, worked with inmates, seniors, and children for the Utah Arts Council’s Artist in Education program. She is a recipient of the 2013 Sherwin W. Howard Poetry Award from Weber: a Journal of the Contemporary West, the Kay Saunders New Poet Prize, several writing awards from the Utah Arts Council, the Nation/Discovery Award, and two semi-finalist awards for Nimrod’s Pablo Neruda Prize, in 2013, and 2014. She has received two artist residencies from the Ucross Foundation. Her book The Worrier was a finalist for the National Poetry Series in 2015.

For the story prize: David Ebenbach, The Guy We Didn’t Invite to the Orgy.

David Ebenbach is author of two collections: Between Camelots (winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005) and Into the Wilderness (Winner of the Washington Writers Publishing House Fiction Prize, WWPH, 2012). He is also author of a full-length collection of poetry called We Were the People Who Moved (Winner of the Patricia Bibby Prize, Tebot Bach, 2015), a chapbook of poetry entitled Autogeography (Finishing Line Press, 2013), and a guide to the creative process called The Artist’s Torah (Cascade Books, 2012). He received a PhD in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MFA in Writing from Vermont College. Ebenbach teaches creative writing at Georgetown University.

For the novel prize: Joan Frank, All the News I Need.

Joan Frank is the author of five books of fiction and a book of collected essays. Her novel Make It Stay won the Dana Portfolio Award. Her story collection, In Envy Country, won the Richard Sullivan Prize, the Gold ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award, and was named a finalist for the California Book Award. Frank’s essay collection, Because You Have To: A Writing Life, won the Silver ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award.

Finalists and Runners Up

Runner up for first publication in poetry

Kara Krewer, Animals in Silent Movies

Finalist for poetry

Randall Watson, The Geometry of Wishes

Runner up for novel

Rebecca Berg, The Brick Thieves

Runner up for story

Michelle Ross, There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You


The Juniper Literary Prize Series

The Juniper Literary Prize Series is dedicated to bringing distinct, fresh voices to a wide audience. Congratulations to our winners this year and to the long line of poets and writers who have been recognized by the Juniper Literary Prizes in years past. For more extensive biographies of our winners, please go to the UMass Press website.


The Juniper Literary Prize Series takes its name from Fort Juniper, the house that the poet Robert Francis (1901–1987) built by hand in the woods in western Massachusetts. When UMass Press launched the Juniper Prize for Poetry in 1975, we were one of the first university presses to publish contemporary poetry. We introduced the Juniper Prize for Fiction in 2004 to honor outstanding literary fiction.

To mark the fortieth year of cooperation between the Press and the UMass Amherst MFA Program, we expanded the prize twofold. The Juniper Literary Prize Series awards two prizes each for poetry and for fiction. For poetry, one prize recognizes a first publication. The second is open to previously published poets as well. For fiction, one prize recognizes a short story collection. The second prize recognizes a novel. Each of the four recipients will be awarded $1,000 and publication.

The Juniper Literary Series is open for submissions annually from August 1 through September 30. Prize winners are selected by UMass Amherst MFA faculty.

The sky is on fire with blue
And wind keeps ringing, ringing the fire bell.
—from “Cold” by Robert Francis

For additional information about The Juniper Prize and submission guidelines please visit: