Contest Winners

Nearly 100 people entered our Break Through Writing Contest in February and we are thrilled today to announce the results!

We selected the strongest entries in 3 different genres: Flash fiction, flash creative nonfiction (CNF), and poetry, within the contest theme of “break through”– from new beginnings, to breaking out of old patterns, or breaking free from whatever is holding you back. Thank you to everyone who sent in their great work.

Jump to:

Creative Non-fiction  |  Flash Fiction  |  Poetry

Creative Non-fiction Winners



Isaac’s Blessing Bags

By Tanaǧidaŋ To Wiŋ ● March 22, 2022

When we left our quiet townhome in Inver Grove Heights to move to our first home on the Eastside, as a mother of two young men I was extremely nervous.



School of big and small

By Didi Koka ● March 22, 2022

It has been an occasional evening routine to watch a nature program.  It is a nod to the bigness of world and a balm to how little seems to get



Gifts of the Superior Hiking Trail – The Dragonfly

By Mikkel Beckmen ● March 22, 2022

“Flora or Fauna, we are all shapeshifters and magical re-inventors. Life is really a plural noun, a caravan of selves.” – Diane Ackerman   Mid-way along my thru hike of the

Flash Fiction Winners




By C.M. Finch ● March 22, 2022

Charlie’s enthusiasm was infectious as he showed me around his living space.  My living space now, I supposed, as room had been made for me here.  The entryway was bright



Interlude with Cadaver Seeking Dogs

By Isadora Gruye ● March 22, 2022

There was a villa in southern France where a billionaire went missing. He just disappeared one summer evening while out for a walk. His private jet missed him terribly. His




By Meckenna Holman ● March 22, 2022

CONTENT WARNING: Implications of domestic violence   The bone had healed wrong, or so the doctor said. I’d squinted real hard at the x-ray and couldn’t see what he saw.

Poetry Winners



Art by Barbara Evan

Salvation of Bread

By Diane Jarvenpa ● March 22, 2022

Salvation of Bread   Every time sorrow is a rock to the skull   I chant up a stove it’s belly all fire bloom    as I beg any ancestor



Between the Stations

By Benj Vardigan ● March 22, 2022

Between the Stations The presets are nonsense, directions to nowhere. Coaxing the dial across the notches we nuance, tune our ears to any clear scrap in the static.   On



How I Became a Feminist

By KateLynn Hibbard ● March 22, 2022

How I Became A Feminist   Because she could not bear to waste a thing, My mother always drank the coffee dregs Straight from the pot, and dribbled on her



Restoring prairie

By Leslie Thomas ● March 22, 2022

Restoring prairie   June 24, 1854: Some of these flowers must be preserved—not that they can ever be made any more beautiful or arranged with any better taste than now.



Diagrammer of Sentences

By Mary Kay Rummel ● March 22, 2022

Diagrammer of Sentences    In the corner of the living room, huddled over my pink wooden desk, brothers fighting, mother angry because I’m not peeling potatoes, I’m wandering in English

Contest Details

Saint Paul Almanac invites you to submit your original, unpublished work for our BREAK THROUGH writing contest this February!

We’ll be selecting the top 3 pieces in 3 different genres: Flash fiction, flash creative nonfiction (CNF), and poetry.

Winners will have their work published on the Almanac website and receive prizes/cash awards courtesy of contest sponsors (to be announced soon)!

The contest theme is “break through” — which we invite you to interpret creatively (e.g., new beginnings, breaking out of old patterns, breaking free from whatever is holding you back, etc.) Note: the theme is not in reference to breakthrough infections, but stories/poems about Covid are not off-limits.


Submission instructions:

    • Contest opens Feb 1; deadline to submit is Feb 28, 11:59pm CT
    • Submissions should be sent via email to
    • In the subject line, please indicate which genre you are entering (flash fiction, flash CNF, or poetry).
    • You may only enter in one (1) genre.
    • In your submission, include your contact information (name, address, phone number, email) and a brief bio.
  • Work must be previously unpublished.


Guidelines/notes for each genre category:

    • Fiction (judged by Jordan Hirsch): Up to 1,000 words; both literary and genre work will be considered, if it relates to the theme. If applicable, please add a content warning (e.g., grief, abusive relationship, etc.) at the top of your submission and/or in your email.
    • Poetry (judged by Katie Vagnino): Submit 1-3 poems of any length; slight preference for formal poems although free verse is acceptable.
    • CNF (judged by Wendy Brown-Baez): Up to 1000 words, please paginate your document and add CNF and word count under the title.