We are delighted to announce the winners and long and short lists for the inaugural Los Gatos-Listowel Writers’ Festival writing contests. We received a high volume of entries and wish to thank everyone who submitted.



louisek It is our great pleasure to announce Louise Kennedy as the winner of the first annual Los Gatos-Listowel Short Story Contest with her submission Powder.

Contest finalists judge, Kevin Barry, author of Beatlebone, selected Louise’s story “Powder” from among three finalists, and noted: “All the work was pitched to a high standard, and each of the three stories was adept in mood, character, narrative, pacing – it was very difficult to pick one from the three, but the freight of emotion that the story ‘Powder’ carried beneath it’s very witty surface swung it for me.”

Louise started writing in 2014. In 2015 she won first place and runner up in Ambit Fiction Prize, and first place in Wasifiri New Writing Prize (Life Writing). This year Louise has been shortlisted for Cuirt, Highly Commended in Colm Tóibín Short Story Prize, and runner up in Short Fiction Journal Prize.

Louise grew up in Holywood, Co. Down and lives in Sligo with her husband, son and daughter.

Congratulations also to finalists, Tobey Hiller and Barry McKinley. The standard of submissions was extremely high and this is a great accomplishment.


“Powder” Louise Kennedy

“Splinter” Tobey Hiller

“A Beginner’s Guide to Madness” Barry McKinley


“Cell” Sheila Armstrong

“Mister Switzerland” Susan Bennett

“The Edge of Happiness” Terry Boyle

“Prickly Pears” Dominique Cleary

“We” Paul Doran

“Dust” Christina Dowling

“Exploded Geography” Kim French

“Kolaportið: After Ben Okri” Friðrik Sólnes Jónsson

“Eve” Eireann Nankivell

“Watchtower” Adam O’Keefe

“Don’t Look” Aiden O’Reilly

“Ghosts in Parkdale Mall” Z.G. Watkins

“Choking on the Light” Mark Zipoli

“Hasard Objectif”  Joanna Walsh

“Saddest Tale” Lyzette Wanzer

Thank you to Kevin Barry, and judges Ethel Rohan, Caroline Bracken, and Listowel Writers’ Week judging panel.

ADULT POETRY PRIZE – Shirley McClure Poetry Prize $600

We are delighted to announce the winner of the Adult Poetry Contest as Kathleen McClung, for her submission “Across and Down

Kathleen McClung is the author of Almost the Rowboat (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and her poems appear in Mezzo Cammin, Unsplendid, Atlanta Review, Ekphrasis, West Trestle Review, A Bird Black as the Sun: California Poets on Crows and Ravens, Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace, and elsewhere. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she was the winner of the Rita Dove Poetry Prize and the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Prize and finalist for the Morton Marr, Elinor Benedict, Margaret Reid, and 49th Parallel poetry prizes. McClung serves as sponsor-judge of the sonnet category of the Soul-Making Keats literary competition and as a reviewer for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, sponsored by the Stanford University Libraries. She teaches writing and literature classes at Skyline College and the Writing Salon.

Congratulations to our finalists:

Leigh Lucas “Ursa Major”

Karen O’Connor “The woman sitting next to me”

Laura Foley “Message From the Beyond”

Thank you to judge Jane Clarke. In memory of Shirley McClure.


Youth Poetry Prize $400

First place: “Words” by Karen Chen.

Karen Chen is a 17 year old from New York City, New York. Her writing has been honored regionally and nationally by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards; in 2016, she was an American Voices Nominee. She was also a winner of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Promising Young Writers Program in 2013. In addition, she is a monthly columnist for English Salon magazine, which is a publication used in many schools in China as a high-level academic resource that teaches English to high schoolers. Her work has been published in Visceral Brooklyn and is forthcoming in Yo-NEW YORK! In her spare time, Karen enjoys reading, fencing, and doing math.
First Honorable Mention: “Daughter of In-Between” by Ramna Safeer
Second Honorable Mention: “Undaunted” by Alina Zeng

Special Younger Category Prize $100

First place: “Dirt on my Toes” by Maggie Gray

Maggie Gray is a seventh grader at St. Paul’s Episcopal School, Oakland. She enjoys reading, drawing, writing, and fencing. Her poem, Dirt on my Toes, was written in response to a friendship that ended sourly.

Second place: “Elixir” by Josephine Chou
Third place: “Where I’m From” by Alexa Kupor

Thank you to judges Erica Goss and Caroline Bracken.

  • Shirley McClure Poetry Prize

    We are saddened to learn of the death on September 23rd of Shirley McClure, who was to join us in Los Gatos to read from her new Penfro Poetry Competition-winning collection, Stone Dress (2015, Arlen House).

    ShirleyBorn in Waterford in 1962, Shirley McClure attended Trinity College Dublin, where she studied English Literature and Spanish. She wrote her first poems at about the age of 8, encouraged by her teacher parents and artist and story-teller grandmother. More recently, Shirley had been reading and performing her work as well as conducting workshops at poetry events & festivals around Ireland. Shirley was to host a workshop with fellow Irish poet, Jane Clarke on October 8th at the first annual Los Gatos – Listowel Writers’ Festival, and indeed was one of the first writers on the bill.

    With that, we are honored to name our poetry award the “McClure Poetry Prize” to help cherish the memory of Shirley and her work for years to come. Our thoughts are with her family and friends in Ireland at this time.

    “Quirky and wise, studded with razor-sharp double entendres and droll fantasies, these poems introduce a refreshing new voice in Irish poetry.“- Bloodaxe poet Katie Donovan