Best of the Net 2016  


Kaveh Akbar is the founder and editor of Divedapper . His poems appear recently or soon in The New Yorker, Poetry, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. A debut full-length collection, Calling a Wolf a Wolf, is forthcoming with Alice James in Fall 2017. The recipient of a 2016 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, Kaveh was born in Tehran, Iran, and currently lives and teaches in Florida.

Zeina Hashem Beck is a Lebanese poet. Her first collection, To Live in Autumn, won the 2013 Backwaters Prize. Her second collection, Louder than Hearts, won the 2016 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize. She's also the author of two chapbooks: There Was and How Much There Was, a smith|doorstop Laureate's Choice, selected by Carol Ann Duffy; and 3arabi Song, winner of the 2016 Rattle Chapbook Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Poetry, and The Rialto, among others. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Dubai, where she has founded and runs PUNCH, a poetry and open mic collective. Zeina's readings often have a strong performative quality, and she has participated in literary festivals in the Middle East, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Dr. Joshua Bennett is the author of The Sobbing School (Penguin, 2016). He holds a Ph.D. in English from Princeton University, and an M.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Warwick, where he was a Marshall Scholar. In 2010, Dr. Bennett delivered the Commencement Address at the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with the distinctions of Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude. Winner of the 2015 National Poetry Series, Dr. Bennett has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, Cave Canem, and the Ford Foundation. His writing has been published or is forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Boston Review, The New York Times, Poetry and elsewhere. He is currently a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University

Kayleb Rae Candrilli is author of What Runs Over, forthcoming with YesYes Books and winner of the 2016 Pamet River Prize. They are published or forthcoming in the Sonora Review, Puerto del Sol, Booth, CutBank, Muzzle, Rhino, The New Orleans Review, and others. They hold an MFA from the University of Alabama and now live in Philadelphia with their partner. You can read more of their work here.

Leila Chatti is a Tunisian-American poet. The recipient of a scholarship from the Tin House Writers' Workshop and prizes from Ploughshares' Emerging Writer's Contest, Narrative Magazine 's 30 Below Contest and 8th Annual Poetry Contest, and the Academy of American Poets, her poems appear in Best New Poets, Ploughshares, Tin House, Narrative,The Georgia Review,The Missouri Review, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she is a writing fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center.

Tiana Clark is the author of the chapbook Equilibrium, selected by Afaa Michael Weaver for the 2016 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. She is the winner of the 2016 Academy of American Poets Prize and 2015 Rattle Poetry Prize. Tiana is currently an MFA candidate at Vanderbilt University where she serves as Poetry Editor for Nashville Review . Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from The New Yorker, Best New Poets 2015, Crab Orchard Review, Indiana Review, Southern Indiana Review, The Adroit Journal, Muzzle Magazine, Thrush Poetry Journal, The Journal, and elsewhere. Find her online at

Adam Clay is the author of Stranger (Milkweed Editions, 2016), A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World (Milkweed Editions, 2012), and The Wash (Parlor Press, 2006). His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Crab Orchard Review, Boston Review, Iowa Review, The Pinch, and elsewhere. A co-editor of TYPO Magazine, he serves as a Book Review Editor for Kenyon Review and teaches at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Safia Elhillo is the author of The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017). Sudanese by way of Washington, DC, and a Cave Canem fellow, she received an MFA in poetry at the New School. Safia is a Pushcart Prize nominee, co-winner of the 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize, and winner of the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. In addition to appearing in several journals and anthologies, her work has been translated into Arabic and Greek. With Fatimah Asghar, she is co-editor of the anthology "Halal If You Hear Me."

Sarah Giragosian's poems have recently appeared in such journals as Ecotone, Prairie Schooner, The Missouri Review, The Baltimore Review, and Flyway, among others. A winner of the American Poetry Journal Book Prize, her first book Queer Fish is forthcoming from Dream Horse Press. She teaches in the department of Writing and Critical Inquiry at the University at Albany-SUNY.

Lois Ruskai Melina's essays are forthcoming or have appeared in Blood Orange Review, Carolina Quarterly, Literary Mama, Oregon Humanities magazine, and Fourth & Sycamore, as well as in the anthologies Borne on Air (Eastern Washington Press) and Forged in Fire (University of Oklahoma Press) . She is retired from teaching in higher education. When she is not writing, she can sometimes be found rowing on the Willamette River near her home in Portland, Oregon.

Joseph O. Legaspi is the author of Threshold (forthcoming Fall 2017) and Imago, both from CavanKerry Press; and two chapbooks, Aviary, Bestiary (Organic Weapon Arts) and Subways (Thrush Press). Recent works appeared in POETRY, New England Review, Orion, Tuesday; An Art Project and Poem-a-Day from The Academy of American Poets. He co-founded Kundiman), a nonprofit organization serving Asian American literature. He lives in Queens, NY.

Claire Lombardo is currently pursuing her MFA in fiction at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her stories have appeared in Little Fiction, Barrelhouse Magazine, Longform, and more. She is a recipient of the Iowa Arts Fellowship and was a 2016 Sun Valley Writers' Conference Fellow. She lives in Iowa City and is at work on her first novel. Her website is

Lois Ruskai Melina's essays are forthcoming or have appeared in Blood Orange Review, Carolina Quarterly, Literary Mama, Oregon Humanities magazine, and Fourth & Sycamore, as well as in the anthologies Borne on Air (Eastern Washington Press) and Forged in Fire (University of Oklahoma Press). She is retired from teaching in higher education. When she is not writing, she can sometimes be found rowing on the Willamette River near her home in Portland, Oregon.

Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint received her MFA in Prose from the University of Notre Dame and her BA in Literary Arts from Brown University. She is currently pursuing a PhD in English Creative Writing from the University of Denver and serves as the Assistant Editor for the Denver Quarterly. Her short stories have appeared in Caketrain, The Kenyon Review Online, The Collagist, The Literarian, Sleepingfish, and elsewhere, and has been translated into and published in Burmese and Lithuanian. Her first book, The End of Peril, the End of Enmity, the End of Strife, A Haven will be published by Noemi Press in early 2018.

Joanna Pearson's short stories are forthcoming in Carve, Copper Nickel, and The Hopkins Review. She's also theauthor of a book of poetry, Oldest Mortal Myth (Story Line Press, 2012), winner of the 2012 Donald Justice Prize and the 2014 Towson University Prize for Literature, and a young adult novel, The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2011).

Jocelyn Pihlaja has been teaching English at the college level since 1991. She has a husband who cooks dinner every night, kids who hold up hands requesting "Silence!" when their reading is interrupted, and a blog, O Mighty Crisis. In addition to writing for online publications, she also was a regular contributor to a local public radio program,Women's Words, where she delighted in wearing huge headphones and pretending she was interviewing Alec Baldwin about his "Schweddy Balls".

Cassie Pruyn is a New Orleans-based poet born and raised in Portland, Maine. She is the author of two forthcoming books— Bayou St. John: A Brief History (The History Press, 2017) and Lena, winner of the Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry (Texas Tech University Press, 2017). Her poems have appeared in AGNI Online, The Normal School, The Los Angeles Review, The Adroit Journal, Poet Lore, Salt Hill Journal, and others. She teaches at Bard Early College in New Orleans.

Saara Myrene Raappana wrote the chapbooks Milk Tooth, Levee, Fever (dancing girl press) and A Story of America Goes Walking (collaboration with artist Rebekah Wilkins-Pepiton, Shechem Press). She was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in southern China, is a founding editor of Cellpoems, and works for Motionpoems. She likes ice fishing, train rides, reading poems to rooms full of strangers, and making up new names for imprecisely labeled birds. For more, go to

Kina M. Viola is a poet and book designer living in Ithaca, NY. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Fanzine, Witch Craft Magazine, Jellyfish, GlitterMOB, and other journals. She is the managing editor for chapbooks at Big Lucks Books, and is 1/2 of micropress Garden-Door Press.

Sarah Viren is a writer and translator whose work has appeared in AGNI, the Iowa Review, Guernica, The Normal School and elsewhere. Her collection of linked essays, MINE, won the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize, judged by Andre Dubus III, and will be published by the University of New Mexico next year. More at

Jenny Xie is a graduate of the MFA program at Johns Hopkins University, where she also taught creative writing. Her work has appeared in Front Porch Journal, Ninth Letter Online, PANK Online, Hyphen Magazine, and Adroit Journal, among others. The winner of Narrative Magazine's 30 Below Story Contest in 2016, she has also won recognition from Glimmer Train, Devil's Lake, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Gulf Coast. She lives in Oakland, California, and is at work on a novel.