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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 12: 10 March 2022
Commentary: 328 words
By Clare MacQueen

MacQ’s Cheribun Challenge: Results


The January issue of MacQ (#11) featured a new-to-me short-form hybrid, the cheribun, a combination of prose poetry and one or more cherita. The latter is a six-line micro-poem invented by Malay poet ai li in 1997. (For details, see MacQ’s First Cheribun!)

From my first introduction to cheribun last November, I was smitten—and my craving to read more of them led me in January to organize a writing challenge for Issue 12, in hopes of inspiring other writers to try their hand at the form.

And who best to judge such a contest but fellow aficionado Margaret Dornaus, author of what I believe may be the first cheribun published online—The Writer’s Cabin—the marvelous poem that ignited my enthusiasm for this hybrid. What a pleasure and honor it was for me personally to publish Margaret’s first cheribun. And I was simply thrilled when she agreed to serve as Guest Judge for our Cheribun Challenge.

Submissions for the contest were open for two weeks in February, and we received 70 pieces, representing a total of 38 entries. All entries were anonymized in Submittable to help make judging as fair as possible. And our guest judge did not learn the names of the winners and finalists until yesterday, after I emailed an announcement to the group with results.

Thanks so much to everyone who entered this challenge! We enjoyed reading all the entries and admired the adventurous spirit in which many were written. And my deepest gratitude to Margaret Dornaus for setting this joyous chain of events in motion last November.


  1. First Place ($100 USD):
    Cheribun of the Infinite Remainder by Charmaine Smith

  2. Second Place ($50 USD):
    Fishboy by Peter Jastermsky

  3. Third Place ($50 USD):
    Culture Shock by Hazel Hall

Finalists, unranked:

For details about the contest guidelines, see MacQ’s Cheribun Challenge.

About the Guest Judge:

Margaret Dornaus holds an MFA in the translation of poetry from the University of Arkansas. A semi-finalist in Naugatuck River Review’s 13th annual Narrative Poetry Contest, she had the privilege of editing and publishing a pandemic-themed anthology, Behind the Mask: Haiku in the Time of Covid-19, through her small literary press, Singing Moon, and received a Best of the Net nomination in 2020.

Her first book of poetry, Prayer for the Dead: Collected Haibun & Tanka Prose, received a 2017 Merit Book Award from the Haiku Society of America. Recent poems appear in The Ekphrastic Review, Lindenwood Review, MockingHeart Review, and Red Earth Review, as well as in the tribute series for Lawrence Ferlinghetti, I Am Still Waiting, published by Silver Birch Press.

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