Iowa Writers David Ehmcke and Jesus “Chuy” Renteria Win Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award

Prize Includes All-Expenses-Paid Trip to New York City,
Meetings With Publishing Professionals,
Month-Long Residency


David Ehmcke (left) and Jesus “Chuy” Renteria (right). Credit: David Ehmcke, Tony Frausto


New York, NY—July 12, 2023—Poets & Writers announced today that the winners of the 2023 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award are David Ehmcke for poetry and Jesus “Chuy” Renteria for fiction.

Poet Megan Fernandes judged the poetry submissions and said of Ehmcke’s work, “I read these astonishing poems in a wild, voracious awe.” Novelist Alejandro Varela judged fiction, and commended Renteria who, he said, “skillfully juggles time and suspense, in the process reminding us life is merely a series of escapades during which we trudge along hopeful, arms extended.” The judges also cited first runners-up Fatima Elbadri (in poetry) and Jefferey Spivey (in fiction). Excerpts from the winning manuscripts can be found at

The prestigious award, which aims to provide promising writers a network for professional advancement, has helped to launch the careers of Sue Monk Kidd (The Invention of Wings, The Secret Life of Bees), David Mura (Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei), Mona Simpson (Case), Lidia Yuknavitch (Thrust), and others.

The Writers Exchange Award offers winners an unusual opportunity. Poets & Writers will invite Ehmcke and Renteria to identify agents, editors, authors, and others in the literary field that they would each like to meet. Staff will then arrange appointments with as many of these individuals as possible. In September, the two winners will travel to New York City, all expenses paid, where representatives of Poets & Writers will accompany them on a round of visits to solicit advice, gain insight, and establish professional contacts. As a direct result of these meetings, past winners of the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award have had their books published, received fellowships, secured teaching positions, and laid the groundwork for their professional lives as writers. Each year, Poets & Writers selects one state (or Washington, D.C.), and invites writers from that jurisdiction to apply for the Writers Exchange Award. For 2023, the state of Iowa was chosen. Excerpts from the winning manuscripts can be found at To date, one-hundred-and-twelve writers from forty-four states and the District of Columbia have participated.

David Ehmcke is a native of Sioux City, Iowa. His work has appeared in the Black Warrior Review, the Adroit Journal, Peripheries, Hobart, Cosmonauts Avenue, the Columbia Review, and elsewhere. Ehmcke was selected by Diane Seuss as the runner-up of the 2022 Black Warrior Review Poetry Prize and is a poetry reader for Guesthouse.

Jesus “Chuy” Renteria is an artist and writer currently residing in Iowa City, Iowa. They were raised in West Liberty, a small town known for being Iowa’s first majority Hispanic town. In 2021, Renteria published We Heard It When We Were Young (University of Iowa Press), a memoir detailing his upbringing in this vibrant and complicated midwestern meatpacking community. His memoir has been featured in the Chicago Review of Books and on NPR. His stories can be read in We The Interwoven Volume 1: An Anthology of Bicultural Iowa (Iowa Writer’s House, 2018). They currently work at the University of Iowa.

Poets & Writers will sponsor a reading and reception for Ehmcke and Renteria on September 29 at P&T Knitwear, a bookstore on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. In addition, the winners will be offered a one-month residency at the Jentel Artist Residency Program in Wyoming. A complete list of past winners can be found at

The Writers Exchange Award is generously supported by Maureen Mahon Egen, retired Deputy Chairman, President, and Publisher of Hachette Book Group and a member of the Poets & Writers Emeritus Board.


Poets & Writers is the primary source of information, support, and guidance for poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers in the United States. Our mission is to foster the professional development of poets and writers, to promote communication throughout the literary community, and to help create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible public.

Poets & Writers Magazine is the leading publication of its kind, serving a readership of 100,000. Our website offers extensive free resources to help writers navigate the literary marketplace and a lively online community. Our programs include Readings & Workshops, which pays writers for giving readings and leading writing workshops in small towns and big cities across the country; Mapping the Maze, an online workshop that demystifies the publishing process and helps writers chart a path to publication; and Get the Word Out, a publicity incubator for debut authors. We sponsor the Jackson Poetry Prize and Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award. We are guided by our core values of service, inclusivity, integrity, and excellence and are committed to becoming an antiracist organization. Learn more at


Rachel Schuder
Director, Development & Marketing
Poets & Writers, Inc.
(212) 226-3586 x201