Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest winners


The Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest presented the winners of the 2020 contest on August 8 via a virtual Zoom event. Because this was an online event, it was the first time that many winners were able to participate in the contest’s annual celebration. Thirteen of the twenty-four winners read their sonnets live. The remaining entries were read by members of the Great River Shakespeare Festival’s acting company and the contest’s judges.

The winning sonnets and poets in four categories are:

Top three: “Daffodils,” Anna Beecher (Charlottesville, Va.); “Bookworm, a Fragment,” Arnold Johnston (Kalamazoo, Mich.); “30 September,” Katharyn Howd Machan (Ithaca, N.Y.).

Regional: “Perfect Snow,” Susan McMillan (Rochester, Minn.); “Going Viral: Two,” Jim Togeas (Morris, Minn.); “The Kiss,” Steven Vogel (Rochester, Minn.).

Youth: “uncomfortably numb,” Julia Biller (Westlake, Ohio); “Beyond my Realm,” Annika Myrup (Lexington, Ky.); “Music,” Rileigh Olson (Onalaska, Wis.).

Laureates’ Choices: “Across the sleeping valley nothing tells,” James Brooks (Signal Mountain, Tenn.); “Silent Spring 2020,” Barbara H. Bryan (Davidson, N.C.); “Ariel Unbound,” Melissa Cannon (Antioch, Tenn.); “On Listening to Arvo Pärt in Lent,” Louise Fairley (Edmonton, Alberta Canada); “Filindeu for Uncle Nico,” Aaron Fischer (Fort Lee, N.J.); “A Museum: Steamboat Arabia, Excavated 150 Years After She Sank,” Michael Harty (Prairie Village, Kan.); “April, 2020,” Laurie Holding (Sewickley, Penn.); “The Worth of August,” Siham Karami (Orlando, Fla.); “Old Lady with No Complaints,”  Barbara Loots (Kansas City, Mo.); “In the Time of Contagion,” Richard Meyer (Mankato, Minn.); “How They Keep Us Safe,” Sarah Paulos (Philadelphia, Penn.); “At Sea,” David Sullivan (Santa Cruz, Calif.); “Masking Conditions,” Michael Waterson (Napa, Calif.); “Everything You Loved,” Gail White (Breaux Bridge, La.); “Reveries While Walking the Mesa on the Hottest Day of the Year,” Scott Wiggerman (Albuquerque, N.M.).

All of the sonnets have been published on the contest’s website at The video of the online event is also available on the website and at


About the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest

A project of the River Arts Alliance, the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest is an annual event that welcomes entries from around the world to Winona. The 2020 contest saw a 30-percent increase in participation over 2019. A total of 541 sonnets were submitted by poets in 39 states and 13 other countries. Prizes totaling almost $2,000 were awarded in four categories: Top Three, Regional, Youth, and Laureates’ Choice. 

The contest honors the memory of Maria W. Faust: a Winona State University graduate in communications, a 20-year resident of Winona, an avid supporter of varied local arts, and a lover of poetry. Maria’s husband, Ted Haaland, is the contest’s benefactor, with the goal of keeping Maria’s love of poetry alive in the community and beyond.

Winona’s Poets Laureate — James Armstrong, Emilio DeGrazia, and Ken McCullough — serve as judges for the contest each year. Heidi Bryant is the administrator of the contest with the organizational support of the River Arts Alliance. The Great River Shakespeare Festival is a partner and assists with events and promotion. 

To learn more about the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest, please visit or email Then visit and to learn more about its partners.


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