Holy hotcakes, Baltimore. This year's installment brought out a wealth of local scribes. No idea why. Was it the economy? Was it the weather? Maybe it's just one of those years when people had something they had to share.
Whatever the reason, we received 263 total short fiction entries and 319 total poetry entries. The entire City Paper staff read everything to whittle those entries down to a batch of finalists in each category, which we then turned over to the judges to read in blind ballots. The four judges--Kim Jensen (local author, board member of The Baltimore Review, and associate professor of English at the Community College of Baltimore County), CP contributors and authors Petula Caesar and Heather Harris, and CP staffer Wendy Ward--received packets of fiction and poetry finalists with the bylines removed. They then submitted their top five choices in each category, which generated three winners in each.
Before we announce those winners, though, allow us to indulge in a little ego boosting. Every year, this contest gets a little more competitive, with more and more sharp writers submitting work. Every year, we come across some now familiar names (Tim Kabara, you could probably put together a small book of just short fiction entries over the years). And every year we're pretty dumbfounded at the sheer range and variety of writers Maryland harbors inside her borders.
You'll find the winners published in this very issue, and they've earned more than bragging rights with their victories. In fiction, the first-place winner takes home $350, second garners $250, and third gets $150. Poets pick up $150, $100, and $50, respectively. Congrats to all.