top of page
Steel Toe Books Site Header.jpg



Steel Toe Books is excited to announce our Steel Toe Books Poetry Award Winner and our Steel Toe Books Prose Award Winners for 2023. The titles will receive publication in Fall 2024. Congratulations to our shortlist and longlist authors, and thank you to all of the authors that submitted to the prize. The 2024 Steel Toe Books Poetry and Prose (fiction and nonfiction) Awards for full-length books is now open! Please congratulate our winners!


Rita Mookerjee Banana Heart

About Banana Heart

When we think of the banana tree, we usually forget the flower, also known as the heart. It isn’t a showy blossom; it is an odd appendage that you could miss if you were not actively seeking it. The poems in Banana Heart exemplify that which gets overlooked in the context of race, culture, and the tourist economy. Mookerjee explores the social practices of travel, sex, and survival for queer people of color living in diaspora. This collection places an emphasis on form (ranging from the abecedarian, aubade, elegy, and kyrielle to the nocturne, ode, and sestina) seizing once-colonial modes of writing and infusing them with erotic queer brown potential. 





Grant Chemidlin
Guillermo Rebollo
Jessica Barksdale
Quincy Gray McMichael


Nancy Keating
Catherine Kapphahn
Robert Perchan
Mara Adamitz Scrupe
Tim Lavenz
Mark Kraushaar
Ruth Gooley
Linda Scheller
Karl Sherlock


Rhonda Zimlich Raising Panic

About Raising Panic

Set in 1978, during a time of Ditto jeans and rabbit’s foot keychains, Raising Panic captures the bond of sisters struggling to find security in an alcoholic home and their attempt to escape. PJ McCormack wants nothing more than to leave her rural valley and alcoholic mother, the way her father did years earlier. But she cannot leave behind her nine-year-old sister, Panic. Instead, she teaches Panic about survival, hoping to prepare her to someday leave. After Panic witnesses the historic PSA 182 jetliner crash (the first televised mass-causality event in the U.S.), the family is thrown into crisis, solidifying the sisters’ plan to leave. As their situation spins out of control, they’ll learn the reason behind their father’s disappearance, the source of rabbit’s foot keychains, and the origin of Panic’s name.


Marianne Erhardt

Kate Brandes

Patricia Schultheis

Mathew Wong Foreman


Joseph Levens

Molly Gandour

G.G. Silverman

Siamak Vossoughi

Zachary Vickers

David Lewis

Gregory Spatz

Kim Henderson


The press thanks everyone who submitted to the contest and notes that the work submitted to contest was very strong across the board. 

About the Author

Rita Mookerjee is an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Worcester State University. A 2020 Fulbright Research Fellow, she is the author of False Offering (JackLeg Press). Her poems can be found in CALYX, Copper Nickel, New Orleans Review, the Offing, and Poet Lore. She serves as an editor at Split Lip Magazine, Sundress Publications, and Honey Literary.

Rita Mookerjee Headshot-min.jpg

About the Author

Rhonda Zimlich teaches writing at American University in Washington, DC. Her writing focuses on history, grief, and intergenerational trauma, with an occasional ghost story. Her work has been published by Brevity, Past-Ten, American Writer’s Review, Santa Fe Writer's Project, and more. She was awarded the 2020 Literary Award in Nonfiction from Dogwood, a Journal of Poetry and Prose at Fairfield University, and the 2021 Fiction Award from Please See Me. She received an honorable mention in America's Best Essays, 2021, and is a 2023 recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council grant for writing.

rhonda zimlich_headshot_raising panic.jpg
bottom of page