Award Winners

Norma Farber First Book Award - 2024

Simon Shieh


Leslie Sainz

India Lena González

Day One

Late at night, in my new home, I wake
to the sound of rain falling through a hole
in the roof.

Still, I keep your things close by—

an Alaskan knife, a blue vial of cologne.
I dab it on my neck, the insides
of my wrists. A fly mistakes me
for bruised fruit. I breathe deep,

walk outside to the water’s
edge, though I no longer believe
what I see—

that the severed hands drifting downriver
are the same hands that once ran
through my wet hair.

In this new life, I ask nothing of you.

A tree grows out of the carcass
of a deer—its branches thrusting
into the night like antlers.

At your funeral, three women stood by as they buried you
though only one cried. Nobody
loves the living like the dead.

Your scent rises from my skin, gathers in my mouth
like a storm.

I exhale—my breath, a rain cloud.

My whole life, you treated me like a dream
you would write down when you woke.
And here we are. I lie beside your body
in the tall grass. The wolf tattooed on your chest
saunters onto mine, makes a bed
of my torso, and falls asleep.

Its jaws hanging open,
teeth brushing against my throat.

Reprinted from Master (Sarabande Books, 2023) with permission of the author. All rights reserved.

Rio Cortez on Simon Shieh's Master

The language in Simon Shieh's Master lingers, haunts, and absorbs the reader from the very beginning. To say that it's one of the best debuts I've encountered, would be an understatement. With lines that are shorn, surprising, and true—Master examines power. And more: brutality, the self, as well shorn—it sees through the midline. These poems humble and startle. More than one line knocked around in my head for days, still. Lines like:

To spite me, he hid the moon
in the shadow of a jackrabbit, the deepest craters
in its eyes, When I beg him to show me the night
sky, he slices its body open in front of me, spills
its insides onto the wooden table.

Master is chilling. And extraordinary. And I’m grateful for its presence in the world.

Simon Shieh
is the author of Master, winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize, and a finalist for the 2024 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His poems and essays are published in POETRY, American Poetry Review, Best New Poets, Guernica, and the Yale Review, among others, and have been recognized with a National Endowment for the Arts Literature fellowship and a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.


India Lena González
is a poet, editor, and multidisciplinary artist. Her work is published in American Chordata, the Brooklyn Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Harvard Review, Lampblack, Literary Hub, Milk Press, PANK, Pigeon Pages, Poetry Northwest, and The Slowdown, among others. fox woman get out!, selected by Aracelis Girmay as part of the Blessing the Boats Selections, is her debut poetry collection. India is also a professionally trained dancer, choreographer, and actor and has had the pleasure of performing at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, St. Mark’s Church, La Mama, New York Live Arts, and other such venues.

Leslie Sainz
is the author of Have You Been Long Enough at Table, winner of the 2024 Audre Lorde Award, and a finalist for the Vermont Book Award. The daughter of Cuban exiles, her work has appeared in the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, the Yale Review, Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. A three-time National Poetry Series finalist, she’s received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, CantoMundo, and the Stadler Center for Poetry & Literary Arts at Bucknell University. Originally from Miami, she lives in Vermont and works as the managing editor of New England Review.