2018 Hal Prize Poetry, Prose, and Photography Winners

Many creative endeavors begin with bravery and hope. The Hal Prize is no different. For me, the contest always starts with the bravery and hope of submitters. It takes bravery for writers and photographers – both experienced and amateur – to offer up their work for critique and judgment. When you create something, you show a piece of yourself to everyone; that takes bravery. Hope is essential because you write in hopes that your work will resonate in some way to viewers/readers and judges. The Hal Prize relies on many people to come to fruition but it wouldn’t be as successful without people who are willing to be brave, put themselves out there and hope their work will be recognized.

The publication of the issue you see before you is the product of a year’s worth of effort from the organizers here at the Pulse, our collaborator Jerod Santek, executive director of Write On, Door County, submitters, pre-screeners who read through and look at every submission (this year, 429 in total), generous donors who allow us to continue and grow the contest, and, of course, the judges.

And with the publication of the 2018 Hal Prize, the planning for 2019 begins. Dates and deadlines will be set. Potential judges will be discussed, selected and interviewed. Pre-screeners have a month to whittle down the selections to send to the judges and the judges have two weeks to make their final selections and write thoughtful commentary about the work. After the final selections are made and compiled, our Creative Director Ryan Miller has two weeks to lay out the special issue, always with his thoughtfulness and attention to detail.

I’ve helped put the Hal Prize issue together for the past seven years and with each issue there are more and more submissions to read and photographs to view. I see this as a hopeful and encouraging sign for the growth of the Hal Prize for years to come. In this issue in particular it’s encouraging to see young people recognized; look for the poem “Color Blind” by Kala Lones and the photograph “Pink and Blue” by Lucas Smith, both in this first section. That’s my joy in the contest, being surprised at the range and sources of creativity that are recognized by our esteemed judges.

And with these words and the publication of the 21st Hal Prize, I encourage everyone to be brave and hopeful, and enter the 2019 Hal Prize. Submissions will be accepted starting now at

2018 Hal Prize Winners

Today we announce the winners of our 20th annual Hal Prize for poetry, prose, and photography.

The Hal Prize is held in the spirit of the late Hal Grutzmacher, a professor and Door County bookstore owner, by offering commentary and encouragement to promising writers and photographers.

Each fall we invite people of all ages, backgrounds and artistic abilities to submit stories, photographs and poems for a chance to be published in our annual Hal Prize literary and photography issue.

This year’s judges include authors Peter Geye and Jose Antonio Rodriguez, photographer Carl Corey, and poet Leslie Adrienne Miller.

The Hal Prize is available on newsstands now, and online here>>


First Place: “Pareidolia” by Steve Tomasko
Second Place: “Helen’s Hairdo” by Kathryn Gahl
Third Place: “Reading Zane Grey” by Kathleen Serley

“Red Grapes” by Dawn Hogue
“On a Line from Patricia Smith” by Estella Lauter
“Color Blind” by Kala Lones
“Plain-Work” by Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers
“Big Sky, Little Finger” by Michael Orlock
“Post Mortem Me: A Poet’s Lament” by Michael Orlock
“This is just to say” by Steve Tomasko
“Drinking Maxwell House in Maui” by Timothy Walsh
“Singing the Alphabet” by Timothy Walsh


First Place: “Saving Stobs” by Carol Dunbar
Second Place: “Unearthed” by Elise Gregory
Third Place: “Hail Mary” by Roger Barr
Honorable: “Sins of Contrition” by Marc J. Sheehan


First Place: The Empress of Ice Cream” by Briana Loveall
Second Place: “Brierly” by Harvey Silverman
Third Place: “The (Almost) Last Solo Trip” by Rudy Senarighi
Honorable: “Rust Never Sleeps” by James Landwehr


First Place: “Kelly and Victoria III” by Pam Ferderbar
Second Place: “Still Life” by Tom Mulinix
Third Place: “Glacier Up Close” by Laura Joeckel


“Golden Girl” by Julian Ford
“Art Museum” by Colleen Gunderson
“Winter Bison in Yellowstone” by Gary Jones
“Green Bay Colors” by Carol Moffett
“North Bay Visitor” by Meredith Ollila
“Pink and Blue” by Lucas Smith
“Woman Sitting in Miranda, Italy” by Emma Sywyj


“Princess in Her Turret” by David Bueschel
“Mid-Summer Residency” by Casey Buhr
“Girls and Phones, Valencia, Spain” by Tom Groenfeldt
“Share My Refrain” by Stanley Horowitz
“The Musician” by Guntis Lauzums
“Best Friends” by Ron Maloney
“Graveyard” by Ron Maloney
“Road to Happiness” by Guido S.


First Place

Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry

  • Custom Hal Prize mug, courtesy of Clay Bay Pottery
  • One-week stay at Write On, Door County
  • $100


  • Custom Hal Prize mug, courtesy of Clay Bay Pottery
  • Peninsula School of Art class
  • $150

Second Place

Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry

  • Peninsula Bookman gift certificate
  • $75


  • Peninsula Bookman gift certificate
  • Al Johnson’s gift certificate
  • Seaquist Orchards gift certificate

Third Place

Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry

  • Peninsula Music Festival gift certificate
  • Seaquist Orchards gift certificate


  • Door County Living one-year subscription
  • Door County Living In Pictures (Volumes I and II)
  • Seaquist Orchards gift certificate


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