JRW announces its 2016 Award Winners

James River Writers is pleased to announce its 2016 award winners. We congratulate all of these winners. They represent the best of the Central Virginia writing community.


Doug Jones

Doug Jones is the 2016 winner of the Emyl Jenkins Award. This award honors the memory of Emyl Jenkins, who passed away in 2010, by presenting an award to an outstanding individual who, as Emyl did, inspires a love of writing and writing education in Virginia. As stated in his nomination, Doug Jones is encouraging and thoughtful and has a talent for gently coaxing his students to explore and push their comfort zones with their writing. Jones holds degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Virginia. He has taught at UVA, Theatre Virginia, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Virginia Opera, as well as in private schools in the Richmond area. Doug has also published short stories, poetry, nonfiction, and scripts for radio and video. He is a member of The Dramatists Guild and The Authors League of America.

Jo Allison receiving the Best Self-Published Novel Contest award at the JRW Conference.

Jo Allison receiving the Best Self-Published Novel Contest award at the JRW Conference. Photo by Caroline Brae.

The winners of the 2016 James River Writers’ Best Self-Published Novel Contest, judged by literary agent, Christopher Rhodes, with The Stuart Agency in NYC, are

First Place: Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl by Jo Allison

Second Place: Charlie Dead and the So-Called Zombie Apocalypse by Geoff Camphire

Third Place: Dust on the Bible by Bonnie Stanard

Of the first place winner, Christopher Rhodes said, “Jo Allison brings turn-of-the-century St. Louis alive with her fast-paced, historically accurate, and fiercely feminist Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl.” In addition to turning out her mystery series, Allison maintains a website dedicated to the micro-history of both 1910 and St. Louis: http://www.1910-stlouis-by-jallison.com. Topics range from what people wore to how they got around to the issues that they talked about. Allison also writes short stories and vignettes that support the novels—“between murders”—and those are available on joallisonauthor.com.



Zoa accepting the award for the Shann Palmer Poetry Contest.

Zoa accepting the award for the Shann Palmer Poetry Contest. Photo by Caroline Brae.

James River Writers and Richmond Magazine partner to announce Zoa as the winner of the Shann Palmer Poetry Contest, for his poem “A New Emotion.” Head judge and Virginia Poet Laureate, Ron Smith, said “Every time I come back to this poem, it moves me and intrigues me.” This contest, sponsored by James River Writers and Richmond Magazine, is named after Shann Palmer, a long-time JRW volunteer and board member, beloved poet, and a wild- and wise-hearted creative who shared her spirit and talents freely, inspiring and encouraging others in the literary community. She passed away in December 2013, and the contest (formerly “Best Poetry Contest”) was renamed in her honor the following year. A native of Ortonville, Michigan, Zoa earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and literature at Eastern Michigan University. He works as a copy editor at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.





2012 Poetry Contest

BestPoetry-WendyMiles (2)Congratulations to Wendy Miles for winning first place in the 2012 Best Poetry Contest. Her poem, “Egg,” was chosen from 349 poems submitted by 105 authors. To read the winning poetry, please visit the Richmond Magazine website.


  • Allison Seay, “Secret Room”
  • Darren Morris, “Theory on the Occurrence of Cicadas”

Honorable Mentions

  • Polly Lazaron, “Aligning with Birth Stars”
  • Joanna S. Lee, “incongruent”
  • Wendy Miles, “The Green Place”
  • John L. Morgan IV, “The Barn House”
  • Shann Palmer, “Bad Girls”

Judging Process 2012

The head judge was Joshua Poteat, recent recipient of the Theresa Pollak Prize for Excellence in the Arts. A.M. Marshall, Allison Titus and Christina Trimarco assisted the judge in reading the entries.

The two-part process implemented to choose the winning poems was highly unscientific: (1) Find the good ones, and (2) Be generous and open when doing so. This seemed like the best way to proceed through over 300 poems. Luckily, the contest readers knew good writing when they saw it. They’d read widely, across many sub-genres — from experimental/avant garde to straight ol’ narrative, from neo-formalist works to prose poems.

Back to Best Poetry index page


2010 Poetry Contest

Laura Davenport (photo from Richmond Magazine)





Congratulations to Laura Davenport for winning first place in the 2010 Best Poetry Contest, co-sponsored by Richmond Magazine. Read this article to find out more about Laura and read her poem, “Sermon: New Orleans, 2003.”

Here are the other 2010 winners:

Finalists (read the finalists’ poems in this article)

  • Heidi Johannesen Poon,“The Problem of the Forest”
  • Henry Hart, “White Goddess”

Honorable Mentions

  • Wendy Miles, “The Green Place” and “Memory: Virginia”
  • Sallie Lupton Jennings, “He Stays”
  • Mil Norman-Risch, “Remains”
  • Virginia Rider, “From Miller’s Lane”

Back to Best Poetry index page


2009 Poetry Contest

Congratulations to Sharron Singleton for winning first place in the 2009 Best Poetry Contest, co-sponsored by Richmond Magazine. Read this article to find out more about Sharron and read her four poems.

Here are other 2009 winners:

Finalists (read the finalists’ poems in this article)

  • Henry Hart — “Communion,” “White Goddess,” “After Halloween, Before Election Day,” and “Independence Day”
  • Elisabeth Murawski — “Maternal,” “Ignominy on Garland Avenue,” “Rising Sun Nursing Home,” and “May I?”

Honorable Mentions

  • Darren Morris — “Coordinates: A Rooftop Sunrise,” “Scoiattolo: Negligee,” “Romulus: A Child’s Nose,” and “Sweet Cream”
  • Derek Kannemeyer — “For My Book of Hours,” “Mission,” “Drapetomania,” and “How I Spent My Summer Vacation”
  • Melissa Dobson — “Incipit,” “Westering,” “Reading Rapunzel,” and “Spoken For”
  • Greg Bowles — “These Things of Such Love,” “The Battle of Beavers,” and “Three Deaths, Bavan-Olgii, Mongolia”
  • Erin Lambert — “An Apology to Mr. Poe,” “How to Remember,” “Within the Proximity of an Answer,” and “Alphabetical Seduction”

Back to Best Poetry index page