Congratulations to the winners, runners-up, and finalists of our 2024 SASFest Poetry Contest. Their contest entries will be published in our anthology, Transformative Poetry SASFest 2024, edited by Jan Edwards Hemming and Paul J. Willis. Our cover image “July 24, Sunset on Lake Pontchartain,” 2021, is from New Orleans photographer Jacob Mitchell. You’ll also see Jacob’s work on the back cover of the anthology: “The Distance Between Us,” 2019. See more of Jacob’s work HERE or on his Instagram page @thesoggyblanket. Many thanks to our poetry judge, Chen Chen! You can see him at SASFest 2024 in March.

Finalists are alphabetical from the top, left to right, and their bios are below.


Ezra Adamo is a student from New Orleans; he was a runner-up in 2021 and a finalist in 2022 for the Saints & Sinners Poetry Contest.

Nayelly Barrios, a Rio Grande Valley borderlands native, earned an MFA in Poetry from McNeese State University. An activist, she is a co-founder of Angry Tias and Abuelas of the Rio Grande Valley, an organization that advocates for immigrant rights and received the 2019 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. She loves to read, write, clean her house, sit on her porch, and spend time with her dogs. She’s currently writing a YA novel about a young Mexican girl who steps into her sapphic truth, family, community, church, and even herself be damned. It is a what-coulda’-been-moir, and quite cathartic.

Diana Burgos was originally born in Bogotá, Colombia. She moved to Florida when she was six and has successfully cohabited with iguanas for almost three decades. She viciously sparred with the bilingual reimaginings of Colombian folktales and other mythological creatures to earn an MFA in fiction. She plans to grapple with them again in future poems, stories, translations, and within the oral retellings of nail-biting ghost stories, so that she can haunt the childhoods of future generations.

Acie Clark is a writer from Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. They’re currently teaching as a visiting assistant professor in poetry at the University of Central Arkansas. Their work can be found or is forthcoming in Poet Lore, American Short Fiction, Passages North, and The Massachusetts Review.

C.W. Emerson’s work has received numerous international awards and honors, including as winner and co-winner, respectively, of Poetry International’s C.P. Cavafy Poetry Prize (2018) and Summer Chapbook competition (2023). His poetry was shortlisted for both The Montreal International Poetry Prize (2020) and for the International Beverly Prize for Literature (2019). Emerson’s work has appeared in journals including Harvard Review, Crab Orchard Review, december, Greensboro Review and others. He is the author of a chapbook, Off Coldwater Canyon (The Poetry Box, 2021) and his debut poetry collection, Luminous Body, Glittering Ash, is forthcoming in 2024 from Eyewear Publishing Ltd.

Nat Gove is a poet and writer who is currently trying to figure out what the dust jacket on their hybrid manuscript is going to say. They are published in Noyo Review, Postscript Magazine, Bayou Review, Snapdragon’s Anthology, and a few others. They listen to traditional jazz in New Orleans with their artistic partner and little red bean pup.

Jeremy Graves is a bestselling author on Buddhist meditation and cognitive psychology (The Mind Illuminated, Simon & Schuster). His poems have appeared in numerous journals including Sundog Lit and Mom Egg Review. He has received grants from the Community of Writers and the University of California, Berkeley. A doctoral student in clinical psychology, he resides in San Francisco.

Raven Hinojosa is a queer Latinx poet and witch. Queer love, animist spirituality, mixed Latinx heritage, and the navigation of trauma define her work. She lives in the unceded Ohlone territory of Alameda, California. Raven has published articles on spirituality and a co-authored biography, Full Circle: A Quest for Transformation from ACTA Publications in 2021.

RUNNER-UP: Wayne Johns’ poems have appeared in Best New Poets, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Ploughshares, among others. His first book, Antipsalm, received the editor’s choice prize from Unicorn Press. He is also the author of The Exclusion Zone (Rane Arroyo chapbook prize from Seven Kitchens Press) and An Invisible Veil Between Us (Frank O’Hara chapbook award). A former Lambda Literary Fellow in fiction, he is working on a novel, Where Your Children Are, about a couple of queer artists who vandalize Confederate monuments and burn down the Margaret Mitchell house in Atlanta in 1993. Originally from Atlanta, he lives in Greensboro, NC with his husband and two rescue dogs.

RUNNER-UP: Ben Kline (he/him) lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Author of the chapbooks Sagittarius A* and Dead Uncles, as well as the forthcoming full-length collection It Was Never Supposed to Be. Ben is a storyteller and poet whose work has appeared in Poet Lore, Copper Nickel, MAYDAY, Florida Review, Bellingham Review, DIAGRAM, Poetry, and other publications.

Luis Lopez-Maldonado is a Xicanx poeta, playwright, dancer, choreographer, and educator. He/Him/They/Them have two forthcoming books, Gay Poetics of the Passion, from FlowerSong Press (2024), and Mexican Bird, from Querencia Press (2024). His/Their work has been seen in The American Poetry Review, Foglifter, Public Pool, and Latina Outsiders: Remaking Latina Identity, among many others. They earned a Master of Arts degree in Dance from Florida State University, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Notre Dame. He/They are currently adding glitter to the Land of Enchantment, working for the public education system as a high school bilingual educator and special education teacher.

Daniel Meltz‘s book of poems, It Wasn’t Easy to Reach You, will be published by Trail to Table Press next year. In a pre-publishing blurb, David Sedaris is calling the book “funny, bold and moving.” Dan’s poems have been published in American Poetry Review, Best New Poets 2012, Plume, Salamander, Tusculum Review, upstreet and lots of other journals. He’s been nominated for four Pushcart Prizes and was a finalist in competitions held by seven independent presses. He’s a retired technical writer and teacher of the deaf, has a BA in English from Columbia and lives in Manhattan.

Scott-Patrick Mitchell is a non-binary poet and the recipient of the 2022 Red Room Poetry Fellowship. Mitchell’s debut poetry collection, Clean, was released in 2022 and explores meth addiction, recovery, and the power of embracing queer identity and community as a way to heal. Clean has been shortlisted for the 2023 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, Book of The Year in the 2023 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.

Agnes Hanying Ong is a poet, queer disabled pansexual transdirectional poetry extremist, policed coconspirator of textual violence, and, along with her bilocating doppelgänger, sign of the peace. She lives in the Rust Belt State of Hoosier. Her writings have been recognized by the Academy of American Poets, Chautauqua Janus Prize, New Orleans Review Micro Essay Contest, Black Warrior Review Flash Fiction Contest, Commonwealth Foundation in London, United Kingdom, here at the Saints & Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival’s Poetry Contest, as well as elsewhere. Her writings have been published by Chicago Review, The Minnesota Review, Black Warrior Review, South Central Review,, The Carolina Quarterly, Rattle, et al..

James Penha (he/him), an expat New Yorker, has lived for the past three decades in Indonesia. Nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and poetry, his work is widely published in journals and collections, including previous SASfest anthologies. His newest chapbook of poems, American Daguerreotypes, is available for Kindle. Penha edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry. Visit

Max Stone is a poet from Reno, Nevada. He played soccer at Queens College in New York City before returning to Reno to earn his MFA in poetry and BA in English with a minor in book arts from the University of Nevada, Reno. He has received fellowships from Community of Writers and Sundress Academy for the Arts. He is the author of two chapbooks: The Bisexual Lighting Makes Everyone Beautiful (Ghost City Press) and Temporary Preparations (Bottlecap Press). His work has appeared in & Change, fifth wheel press, Bender Zine, Night Coffee Lit, The Meadow, Sundress Publications, and elsewhere.

Hope Whynot frequently writes on queerness, gender, adoption, and grief. They hold an Ed.M. in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with a concentration in Identity Power and Justice. They are from Boston, MA and share their life with two lovely partners and a perfect little rescue dog.

WINNER: Holly Zhou is a poet and mixed-media artist from the California desert. Their collaborative poetry and art zines have been showcased at the Bluestockings Comic Fest and at the San Francisco Zine Fest. They are probably thinking about rocks or capybaras.

Visit for more information on Saints & Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival.

SASFest is grateful to:

Publisher – Rebel Satori Press

John Burton Harter Foundation

Saints & Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival is a program of the Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival. Visit for more information about our annual event.