Ariana Benson - Winner

Ariana Benson was born in Norfolk, Virginia. She received the 2020 Graybeal-Gowen Poetry Prize and the 2021 Porter House Review Poetry Prize. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, Indiana Review, Black Warrior Review, World Literature Today, Tinderbox, Auburn Avenue, where she serves as Nonfiction Editor, and elsewhere. She is the 2022 Eliza Moore Fellow for Artistic Excellence at the Oak Spring Garden Foundation. Through her writing, she strives to fashion vignettes of Blackness that speak to its infinite depth and richness.

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Benin Lemus - Honorable Mention

Benin Lemus (she|her) is a writer and an educator. Born in Southern California and raised in Portland, Oregon, she comes from a long line of writers and teachers. She earned her B.A. in English from Bennett College in North Carolina, an MFA in Film and Television Production from the University of Southern California, and a teaching credential in Secondary Education from Mount Saint Mary’s University. Although Benin has had several works published, she likes to point out that her career actually began in second grade when she was given the Principal’s Writing Award, a testament to good teachers who uplift and encourage their students.

Benin’s work has been published online and in print, most recently in A Gathering of Tribes Magazine, edited by Quincy Troupe, and Love Letters in Light, a poetry-based public art project curated by Leila Hamidi. She has performed at Pasadena LitFest, Center Theatre Group and The World Stage Performance Gallery in historic Leimert Park.

Benin’s debut poetry collection, Dreaming in Mourning, will be published by World Stage Press in November 2022. An active member of the Community Literature Initiative (CLI) and the Sims Library of Poetry, she seeks to create social equity and justice through writing. She lives with her family on unceded Tongva land which is now called South Los Angeles.

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