Announcing the Winners of Iron Pen XV

Hello Iron Pen Contestants!

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in Iron Pen 2023. We received many terrific entries, and our excellent judges—Samantha DeFilippo (nonfiction), Rachel Rixen (fiction), and Deanie Vallone (poetry), who are last year’s winners in each category—had very difficult decisions to make in their evaluations. We appreciate everyone’s time and talents in making this year’s contest one of the biggest we’ve ever had (120 people registered for Iron Pen XV).

Without any further ado, here are the winners of the 2023 Iron Pen contest by category:


1st Place: David Adams, of Bay Village, OH – “The Mountain”

2nd Place: David Nash, of La Crescent, MN – “The Trip”

3rd Place: Dwana Back-Lamberson, of Greenfield, IN – “Home”

Honorable Mention: Meredith White, of St. Louis, MO – “Wolf’s Clothing”


1st Place: Hannah Showalter, of Iowa City, IA – “Between the Ocean and the Mountain is a Wild Forest”

2nd Place: Terry Haru, of Bettendorf, IA – “The Search”

3rd Place: Monica Flink, of Davenport, IA– “Pills”

Honorable Mention: Emily Kingery, of Davenport, IA – “Comprehend, comprehensive. See surrender.”


1st place: Tammy Davis, of Fort Wayne, IN – “Out of the Woods”

2nd place: Natasha Walker, of Chicago, IL – “FINDING SPACE FOR GRACE”
3rd place: Philip Goldfarb Styrt, of Davenport, IA – “Between the Mountains and the Ocean”

Honorable Mention: Margaret Sherwin, of Colorado Springs, CO – “The Midline”

Honorable Mention: Kimberly Lipshutz, of West Des Moines, IA – “The Plastic Bag”

Honorable Mention: Kara Lynn Kavensky, of Carmel, IN – “Untitled”

Congrats to all of our winners! 

The Award Ceremony and Reading is this Saturday, March 11 at 12pm CST at the Rock Island Public Library, Downtown Branch, 2nd Floor Community Room. It will also be livestreamed to MWC’s YouTube page:

The winners, 2nd, 3rd Places and Honorable Mentions will be our featured readers, but anyone who participated is welcome to read their entry to this year’s contest. If you would like to read during the event, please send an email to let us know if you plan on reading so we have an idea of how many readers to expect: – Thanks!  

**Please note: the Downtown Branch of the Rock Island Public Library will be closed to the public Saturday, March 11, as Library staff will be hosting the grand opening of their new Watts/Midtown Branch from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. If you are attending the reading, you will need to enter the library through the south entrance (facing the alley), and use the elevator to get to the Community Room. The south entrance to the library will open starting at 11:30 a.m.

We will have the checks, medals, and certificates at the event; if you cannot attend, we will mail them to you on Monday, March 13. We will also have our drawing for the full registration to the David R. Collins Writing Conference, and for some other prizes, during the event on Saturday (please note: you do not need to be present to win the Conference registration—anyone with a paid Iron Pen Entry will be included in the raffle, and each paid entry enters your name one time—so, for example, if you entered in all 3 categories, your name will be in the drawing 3 times). You are of course welcome & encouraged to help spread the word about the event; here’s the Facebook event page:

We hope you had fun with this year’s prompt—everyone certainly did a great job of going from zero to finished piece in a mere 24 hours! Thank you all so much again! Please let me know if you have any other questions about the contest or the Award Ceremony this Saturday 3/11. Thanks again and have a good day…

All best, Ryan Collins