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Contest Judges

Meet the talented judges for our first-ever Annual Art and Writing Contest!

Emily Knapp    Art Judge

Emily Knapp is a Founding Partner of LTDEDTN (, a digital-native gallery that focuses on emerging artists. Knapp has worked in the arts industry for several years at world renowned institutions, galleries, and in artist studios. She is a graduate of the Courtauld Institute of Art in London where she earned her MA in History of Art with a specialization in German Modernism.


Alice Mao    Art Judge

Alice Mao is a sophomore at Yale University studying art. Her work explores themes of isolation, desire, and alienation. While she primarily works on illustrations and paintings, she also writes, animates, and designs. She is the recipient of the Richard and Jean Coyne Family Foundation Award, George H. W. Bush Points of Light Award, a United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Action Solitarity Award Nominee. She is also part of the 100 Changemakers Project hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and a 2021 TedX Youth Speaker. In high school, she co-founded Student Art Spaces, a global nonprofit organization amplifying the voices of under-served young artists in professional spaces through service and advocacy. She intends to work as a painter and illustrator in New York City after she graduates, ideally with a dog. See more of her work on instagram at @alicemaoart or on her website,

Kaya Dierks    Prose Judge

Kaya Dierks is a writer from the San Francisco Bay Area and an incoming freshman at Yale University. She is a National YoungArts Foundation Double-Finalist in Writing, a five-time Scholastic National Gold Medalist, and the recipient of an American Voices Medal. Her prose appears in The Adroit Journal, SmokeLong Quarterly, GASHER Journal, and elsewhere. An alumna of the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program and the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop, she is a Fiction Editor at GASHER Journal and also serves on the staff of EX/POST and The Bitter Fruit Review.  

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Ottavia Paluch    Poetry Judge

Ottavia Paluch is a high school student from Ontario, Canada. Her poetry has been published in Four Way Review, Gigantic Sequins, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Best Canadian Poetry, and Hunger Mountain, among other places. She’s also an alumna of the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program, Flypaper Lit’s Flight School workshop, and the Iowa Young Writers Studio.

Grace Q. Song  •  Prose Judge

Grace Q. Song is a writer residing in New York City. Her poetry and fiction have been published or are forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, PANK, Superstition Review, The Journal, The Offing, The Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. Recent works were selected for inclusion in Best Microfiction, Best Small Fictions, and Best of the Net. She attends Columbia University. 

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Esther Sun   Poetry Judge

Esther Sun is a Chinese-American writer from the Bay Area. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she received the Gold Medal Portfolio Award in the 2021 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, as well as honors in the National YoungArts Competition and Bennington Young Writers Contest. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in DIALOGIST, Cosmonauts Avenue, Pacifica Literary Review, Half Mystic, and elsewhere. Sun currently attends Columbia University as a John Jay Scholar.

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