Announcing: Lit Shark Magazine’s November Poem of the Month!


Happy Tuesday, readers, writers, and shark fans! I hope your week is off to a wonderful start! Tuesdays are a popular day for book and music releases, and today, it’s a wonderful day for Lit Shark, because we have the results for Lit Shark Magazine’s November Poem of the Month contest!

Submissions for the November contest were accepted throughout the month of October, but most of our contestants must have been feeling the spooky vibes, because most of these submissions didn’t roll in until right before the deadline! I had a blast reading these submissions in a quick flurry and was astounded, just like during our last contest, at the quality of these submissions, their emotional intensity, and their imaginative flair. Thank you to everyone who submitted!

For those of you who would like to submit for one of Lit Shark’s Poem of the Month contests, you absolutely still can! Submissions are considered on a rolling basis, and it’s always free to enter. Submit over here up to five poems, or ten pages of poetry. If you want to be considered for our current contest (December), please submit by December 4! That’s our final deadline of the 2023 year, and while submissions will still be ACCEPTED after that date, they won’t be read until the beginning of the new year.


Now, For the Honorable Mentions!

I read so many great poems during this round, and I accepted some for publication in Issue 4 of Lit Shark Magazine, the final issue of 2023, but there was one that I HAD to nominate for an Honorable Mention. And it is: 

Emily Kerlin – “My Dentist Diagnosed Geographic Tongue and I Don’t Know What That Is But I Think It Means It Wants to Talk about How We Used to Travel the World”

This was a deeply feeling, vulnerable, visual, and visceral poem, and it absolutely deserved a special mention.


And the Winner Is…

I am so pleased to announce that the winner of the contest is Shilo Niziolek, who also wrote multiple books, including Fever and atrophy, both from Querencia Press.

Her winning poem is entitled “Ekphrasis for the Salmon,” and it is a stunning portrayal of coming of age, growing awareness of the self and even our place in world, and a chilling encounter with a wild salmon. The imagery is gorgeous, and its connection back to Mary Ruefle is thoughtfully executed, and the entire experience of reading it is cutting, original, jarring… and lasting. I found it to be incredible and really hope you enjoy it.

Shilo NiziolekAbout Shilo Niziolek:

Shilo Niziolek has written Fever and atrophy (Querencia Press), Porcelain Ghosts (forthcoming from Querencia Press), A Thousand Winters In Me (Gasher Press), I Am Not An Erosion: Poems Against Decay (Ghost City Press), and Dirt Eaters (Bottlecap Press). Her work has appeared in JukedHoney LiteraryWest Trade ReviewEntropy, Pork Belly Press, and Phoebe Journal, among others. Shilo is a writing instructor at Clackamas Community College, a workshop facilitator for the Literary Arts, and the editor and co-founder of the literary magazine, Scavengers.

Find her on Instagram: @shiloniziolek


“Ekphrasis for the Salmon” by Shilo Niziolek

Ekphrasis for the Salmon by Shilo Niziolek

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here together today to look into the face of the river.”

—Mary Ruefle

Whenever a friend goes walking, she stumbles, eyes wide, upon the uninhabited body of a wild thing. She wrote a story, never love a wild thing, and when I told her I wrote an essay that said, “I’ve always loved a wild thing,” she said “Of course you did.” And I am still trying to puzzle out what that means, but never mind that here, all you need to know is yes, I was jealous of her finding the dead, yes, I am a unwild thing and I need love. Yes, I went into the drenched-gray of the woods hoping to see the dead, ghost or holy being, it didn’t matter to me. The hush that fell over me when I spotted her, tuckered out from that long and arduous swim upstream, like a body in illness. The constant hum-thrum-pushing up off the couch, body sidling between the rocks. And didn’t I know, shouldn’t I have known how sharp the teeth would be on a creature like that who has to spend her last moments fighting? I couldn’t touch teeth, the mouth agape, barely there in the river, her face the face of the river, her eyes held no terror only purity of purpose, such singularity in her form, nearly as long as my leg. And didn’t I imagine how earlier this summer, my body floated, dived, divested of the earth for a few moments to feel fluid like the salmon in the beating sun? How I shivered now, out here in the rain, looking into the face of the river like Mary Ruefle told me to, my pants getting soaked the longer I crouched toward her face in wonder, the more I imagine the brush of her body against my leg, my legs salmon-finned and thrashing. I left her to decay, to be eaten by the crows as we all end up, but here is her love letter; I wrote it just for me. You know how it is, when you are all salmon, the hunger in you shark-toothed hang-nailed effervescent. You’re all smoke now, all mist hanging over the river in late November. Your scales sludge off, become part of the silt. Dear Salmon, we are gathered here together today. Dear Salmon, this is the pacific northwest, where you used to thrive, you are the moss and the ferns and the bark of the trees. Dear Salmon, I am sorry for the hunger in us. I am sorry for the take and take and take with no stand still, no long and grateful pause. I am sorry Salmon, for what is lost, that we no longer see our faces in you, the river.


“Ekphrasis for the Salmon” Broadside Created by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

For each contest, the winner will receive a unique digital broadside of their winning poem, and the one I created can be found below. I put so much love into it and so enjoyed making it, I hope that you find joy in it and can feel the essence of what I’ve personally taken from Shilo’s poem.

Ekphrasis for the Salmon: Poem of the Month #2

On the Lookout For the Next Winner!

It’s already holiday season, and we only have a few days left to accept submissions for 2023, so if you’d like to be considered for our December Poem of the Month, please submit your poems for consideration as soon as possible!

One winner will be selected, and they will receive $20, a unique digital broadside of their winning poem, mentions on our social media and our website, and a feature in our next issue of Lit Shark Magazine.

Honorable Mentions will also be considered, and they will receive a mention on our social media and website, and they will be featured in the next issue of Lit Shark Magazine.

Submitting to the Poem of the Month contest also counts as a general submission, so even if your work isn’t selected as a winner or honorable mention, your work may still be picked up for an upcoming issue! With it being free to enter, what do you have to lose?


Happy Writing and Happy Submitting, readers, writers, and shark fans!

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. You will not be charged extra, but a portion of your purchase will help support Lit Shark’s causes in inclusive and accessible literature and writing resources, as well as our growing movement in conversation education, rescue, and revitalization.

Related Posts

Written By McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan (she/her/hers) lives and writes in Europe with her family (originally from the Midwest). In addition to being the Editor-in-Chief of Lit Shark Magazine and the Banned Book Review, she is a novelist, poet, and book reviewer. She received her MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University and her BA in English/BS in Education from Indiana University South Bend, where she began her work in publishing. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, Young Ravens Review, The Birds We Piled Loosely, and Encore Magazine, among others; and her book reviews and essays have appeared in The Rumpus, Green Mountains Review, Memoir Mixtapes, The Life Collective, Her Journal, Motherly, and more. When not writing, she enjoys reading, appreciating nature, and spending time with her husband and three children.




Submit a Comment