Announcing the Winners
of the 2020 Gulf Coast Prize

Fiction Winner:
"Clean Teen" by Francisco González

Honorable Mentions:
"Independent People" by Kelly Sullivan
"Consumption" by Philip Anderson

Daniel Peña, on the winner:
In "Clean Teen," the conflation of fantasy and reality brings one student onto common ground with a young, predatory teacher as she navigates alcoholism, a failed career, and a marriage on the verge of collapse. Acting and reacting with and against their respective demons and hopes, this riveting story expertly navigates questions of power, class, exploitation, and desire as it chronicles the implosion of an American teenager and the things society projects onto young brown men in America today. I've never read characters with as much dimension, with as much immediacy. Francisco González is a writer to watch.

Francisco González lives in East Los Angeles. His work appears or is forthcoming in Arts & Letters, The Southern Review, ZYZZYVA, and elsewhere. 

Poetry Winner:
"Goethe's Theory of the Simorgh" by Leyla Çolpan

Honorable Mentions:
“Deer, the Disinterring" by Alexander Lumans
"Transcript of My Mother's Sleeptalk: Chincoteague" by Hannah Perrin King

Kazim Ali, on the winner:
In "Goethe's Theory of the Simorgh," Leyla Çolpan contends not only with the physical universe and a human's history of ideas about such a universe, but also enacts that essential gesture of all real poetry: to weave, in language, the motion of sound-as-energy as it enters matter to know.

Leyla Çolpan is a poet and translator working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As an inaugural Creative Arts Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh, ze was awarded the 2019 Academy of American Poets Undergraduate Prize and shortlisted for the 2019 Frontier Open for hir work on multiethnicity, bilinguality, and the Turkish-American diaspora. Hir poetry has recently appeared in The Adroit Journal, Homology, and Collision Literary Magazine. What Passes & What Passes Through, hir collaborative chapbook with artist Sasha Barile, is now available with the 2020 Summer Series from Ghost City Press.

Non-Fiction Winner:
"How to Apologize" by Lisa Low

Honorable Mentions:
"Marginalia" by Negesti Kaudo
"Iroquois Point" by Tyson Morgan

Emma Eisenberg, on the winner:
Lisa Low's "How to Apologize" is a rigorous and messy (in the best way) examination of how power, race, gender, and experience inflect and reflect our most complicated impulses and ways of being with each other. 

Lisa Low was born and raised in Maryland. Her poems have appeared in Entropy, Cream City Review, The Journal, Vinyl, The Collagist, and elsewhere. A graduate of Indiana University’s MFA program, she is a PhD candidate and Yates Fellow at the University of Cincinnati. For more, visit