Neahkahnie Mountain Poetry Prize

Submissions open for the next Neahkahnie Mountain Poetry Prize January 1-31, 2023.

You may have an award-winning poem! Join other poets in the annual Hoffman Center contest and compete to win a $100 prize and publication on the Hoffman Center’s website.

The first place winner receives $100 cash and has their poem published on the website and in the ninth edition of the North Coast Squid in 2023. Second and third place winners also get their poems published on the website.

The contest judge this year is Lauren Mallett, the second place winner of last year’s Neahkahnie Mountain Poetry Prize. She earned her MFA and was the Assistant Director of Creative Writing at Purdue University. Her recent writing appears in Poetry Northwest, Puerto del Sol, The Seventh Wave, The Night Heron Barks, Sprung Formal, and other journals. She serves on the Oregon Poetry Association’s Board of Directors. Lauren is the Student Contest Chair of Cascadia, an online anthology and contest for Oregon’s young poets. She is the recipient of a 2021-2022 Cannon Beach Arts Artist Grant. Lauren teaches at Warrenton High School.

Note: 2022 winners listed below were selected by Lana Hechtman Ayers, publisher of Moonpath Press.

Carey Taylor is the author of The Lure of Impermanence (Cirque Press 2018).  She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, who has been published both nationally and internationally.  She holds an MA in School Counseling from Pacific Lutheran University.  She currently lives in Portland, Oregon, but considers the Oregon Coast the place her soul resides.

“I will always feel a strong connection to the North Oregon Coast after living at the Garibaldi Coast Guard Station as a kid.  I learned to read and write at Garibaldi Grade School, to swim at the Nehalem pool.  I had my tonsils removed in Wheeler, and I am still in touch with my best friend from first grade after 60 years.  There is a magic in the North Coast I feel in my bones and I am so thankful its spirit both shaped and defined me.  I am also grateful for the Hoffman Center.  Through workshops and publication opportunities, the Hoffman Center has provided a venue for me to circle back to a place I will always consider home.”


Birthday Fires
 —with a line from Henri Cole

Bound tight to my mother, I am sung
into the world, around fire.

I am one of many kinsfolk
gathered on this beach,

one of many candles
glowing on the cake.

So many birthdays before I know—
I came from a place with a hole in it.

A hole deep enough to hold decaying marriages,
small harbors with drowning children,

scoliosis spines, sacrament of cheap beer, soft,
hard, dirty hands, placed against our cheeks.

Deep enough to bury
us all.  Which is not to say,

we didn’t drink glasses
of Asti Spumante.  Salute the sky in Pisa.

Kiss behind tavernas—fiery candelabras
tilted on our heads.

Carey Taylor


This afternoon I watch the wind slap the dunes.
Some of the reeds have gone to seed and feather.
The wheatwash of this hill picks up my hair
and drops me at organic intervals.
This is the evermore turbulence of noticing.
Where the sand calls in the forest
and the trees make slow work of shoving aside
their peers.
There can be only one is Ginger’s rule
for thinning out
plant starter trays. Select for the strongest sprouts
and toss the rest.
I’m delaying this cruelty.
I’m coming around to the rationale
for specialization.
Balance is an outright lie.
Even the sky is nothing like it has ever been before.
So much I hardly understand
fought it out in the unequal collisions of my very own
egg cartons:
some seedlings splooted their second set
of fluted leaves that tell me they are fit
for a career in the raised garden bed,
and the others, shriveled, faces to the dirt, get to be
lunch or bedding,
paraded off to the jurisdiction of worms.
Every two weeks
I turn the compost pile to speed up its royal decay,
to air out the place,
to let the squatters in.


Lauren Mallett’s (she/her/hers) poems appear in Poetry Northwest, The Seventh Wave, Salamander, Passages North, Fugue, and other journals. She lives on Clatsop land of Oregon’s north coast.

Personal Transport

Roused mornings wrapped in fog,
a steaming trip with fragrant tea

across a plain of memories,
walking beside the plumed dog.

Calling out the names of old
acquaintances, some deceased,

somehow puts my heart at ease
and draws me back toward fold.

The dog tugs freely at his leash,
reminding me gently of his need,

so I slow and pay him heed,
and wear the streetlamp halo I’m beneath.

The fog is silver, cold, and mute,
while I am drifting, mulling there

adrift inside the familiar where
I cannot recognize my own wet boots

through my vague cosseted personal history
that ebbs and flows in this swirling fog,

yet dances like a happy dog
against the leash of mystery.

Jim Stewart is a Gearhart beach kid and wrote these poems to pry the lid from the reader’s heart and, maybe, inspire one of those small tender grunts of recognition, but he’s perfectly okay if it’s just the lid of his own heart.

David J.S. Pickering, “You Can’t Take the Boy out of Rockaway Beach”

Shari Crane Fox, “Someday”

Daria Moyer-LaMasney, “Rabo Encendido”

Matt Wigdall, “A Single Lady’s Slipper”

Ciel Downing, “Tender Riches”

Karen Keltz, “Collapse”

Connie Soper, “Bury This”