Alyssa Quinn won the fiction category of this year's Subnivean Awards

Subnivean, SUNY Oswego’s student-staffed digital publication, recently announced the winners of the 2023 Subnivean Awards. This year marked the international literary competition’s third successful year. Award-winning poet Kazim Ali, recently featured on the cover of The Writers’ Chronicle, served as final judge in poetry, while Joan Silber, recently interviewed in The New Yorker, served as the final judge in fiction.

Jenny Qi (pictured first), whose writing has also been published in The New York Times, The Atlantic, ZYZZYVA and elsewhere, won in the poetry category. Explaining why he ultimately selected her work, Ali asked readers to “imagine Stravinsky being played by a street performer, or the ashes left after a devastating fire, or the ruins of a relationship between friends, lovers, or parent and child. Something in these poems knows how to identify loss, map it, make of the unspeakable mysteries of our lives, something real and understandable.”

Alyssa Quinn (pictured second), author of the novel "Habilis" and a professor of poetry at Kenyon College, won in the fiction category. Silber praised the winning story as “a great use of the short form, with its bits of dialogue rolling into the ultimate high-drama.” She added, “Abundant talent is evident here—and no fear in dealing with large themes.”

“Our student editors are often amazed by what we learn from reading the work sent to us by authors beyond our national borders,” said Soma Mei Sheng Frazier, who created the magazine for her SUNY Oswego undergraduates to staff. “Recently, we received writing from Afghanistan, Armenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In total, Subnivean has read work submitted by writers living in 61 countries.”

She noted one holdout in the magazine's geographic distribution: “We haven’t had a single manuscript from North Dakota, though. It’s our one domestic holdout, so if you know a great writer from that state, please mention us!”

Five finalists were named in the competition, along with Qi and Quinn: Miah Jeffra in fiction, and Zachary Kluckman and Alison Granucci in poetry. Both judges expressed how difficult it was to choose the Subnivean Awards winners, given the high quality of the finalists’ writing.  

To learn read the finalists’ and winners’ writing, visit the magazine online.