The MBF 2017 Emerging Writer's Contest

We received so many excellent submissions to the contest this year. Thank you to everyone who participated, especially our judges, Sherwin Bitsui, Richard Fifield, and Amanda Fortini. Congratulations to our winners, R. Cassandra Bruner (Poetry), Patrick Vala-Haynes (Fiction), and Catherine Raven (Nonfiction).

About the winners...

Mary Leauna Christensen



R. Cass Bruner is a current MFA poetry candidate at Eastern Washington University, where she works as managing editor for Willow Springs Books and web editor for Willow Springs literary magazine. Before moving out West for graduate school, she lived in Southern and Central Indiana, caught in the overlap between the Bible Belt and the Rust Belt. Her work has previously appeared in Axolotl. Read Heartland.












Patrick Vala-Haynes is a Sundance Screenwriting Fellow, fiction writer, essayist, and reluctant poet. He admits to knowing more about well-drilling, carpentry, dance, bicycles, cannons, and alfalfa than any man should. As a freelance Fight Director, he has choreographed sword fights and hand-to-hand combat for more than a hundred stage productions. He and his partner Robbie own a bicycle shop in Yamhill County, Oregon. They live within running distance of the Oregon Coast Range. His short story, THE HENCHMAN, was adapted from his novel of the same title. Read The Henchman.









Catherine Raven earned her BA in Botany/ Zoology at UM and served as a backcountry ranger during summer and fall at Mt. Rainier National Park. She graduated with a UM President's Recognition Award for Biological Sciences, and completed her Ph.D. in biology at Montana State University. Her nonfiction story, St Ex.'s Boa, is the first chapter of a book length manuscript she completed in the last year. Catherine was a participant in the Tin House Writer's Workshop led by Nick Flynn from Tin House in Portland, OR, and Steve Almond from Lighthouse Writer's Workshop based in Denver, CO. Catherine is looking forward to attending the Montana Book Festival this Fall. Read St. Ex's Boa.

And the finalists are...


- "Depth Control," Lauren Westerfield

- "The Old Bison," Stephen Lottridge

- "Corn Snakes No Longer Eat Mice," Laura Zak

- "Outside the Lines," Ser Anderson

- "Songs of My Father," Briana Loveall

- "2012, 2016, 2017," Jude Brewer

- "Christian Soldier," Tamara Love

- "Dancing Mares and Rainbows," Christian Rzasa


- "Last Rites," Mark Sanderson

- "Journeyman," Susan Rowe

- "Synthia's Stew," Terri Johnston

- "You Wouldn't Have Known," Calvin Gimpelevich

- "In A Pig's Eye," Paul Huard

- "Winter Women," Josh Potter

- "Dinner Party," Matthew Greene

- "ICU," Rick George

- "Vision Quest," Christopher Maccini


- "In the end the motel eats us," Corey Oglesby

- "Ode to the Abused Body," Fallon Sullivan

- "Three Poems," Christin Rzasa

- "See You Later, Grapefruit," Kim Kent

- "When you come upon a snowbank in the desert," Callie Atkinson

- "Love, Luck, Memory," Janet Frostad

- "Crone," Kate Morris

- "4 Poems," William Silfven-Floyd

- "Not Together Anymore," Michael Byrne