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Pitch Wars Showcase

Please note: These are the entries for the Pitch Wars season beginning in 2021 and continuing through 2022. Please note that our Agent Showcase ends at 9:00 p.m. ET on Monday, February 14, 2022. Agents will not be able to leave comments requesting material after that time.
PW2020 YA #28: CALL HIM BY NAME (Contemporary, Novel-in-Verse #OwnVoices)
Hannah V. Sawyerr
Mentored by:
Liz Lawson and Dante Medema
Book Title:
2020 Entries
Contemporary, Novel-in-Verse (#OwnVoices)
Word Count:
Manuscript Content Warning(s):
Sexual Assault, PTSD



Amina’s father believes silence is safety, but she is her mother’s daughter. Her voice is her weapon, words her shield—and they carried Amina’s mother until her death in Sierra Leone. Amina knows the power of speaking. But when she is sexually assaulted by her pastor, a popular community figure, she finally understands her father’s silence. Amina has to find her voice again, confronting her abuser in the courtroom and her heart—and call him by name.

Told through non-linear free-verse and mixed-media with tonal similarities to HBO’s I MAY DESTROY YOU.



The morning I spent in a police station,
remembering all that I have forced myself forgetful,
is a morning I felt smaller than a whisper.

A day I remember for my confusion, my father’s rage,
and a world full of presumptions.
I began the process of making small

of everything that has tried to make a wreckage of me.
In front of a county detective
and a lukewarm water, I sat

wrestling with a story that the world
would rather listen to, while proclaiming the truth
that once seemed bigger than my

whole body.


Nobody tells you what it’s like.

You hear about the spotlight,
the coffee-stained breath,
but nobody tells you about the stares.

Eyes so judgmental,
you may have to convince yourself
that you aren’t the one who committed a crime.

If I remember anything about Detective Walbrook
it would be her adult acne, messy dyed hair,
and her wrinkled uniform.

All of which are easier,
than focusing on sharing my story,
while my father sits next to me.

14 responses to “PW2020 YA #28: CALL HIM BY NAME (Contemporary, Novel-in-Verse #OwnVoices)”

  1. Hannah VanVels says:

    Hannah! Your writing is so beautiful. This story sounds amazing, and I’d love to take a look when you’re ready. If more than one agent from Belcastro Agency likes your pitch, please submit to the one that you feel is the best fit.


    Good luck!
    Hannah VanVels

  2. Lauren Spieller says:

    This is lovely. I’d like to keep reading. If you think we’d be a good fit, please send your query + full manuscript to Lauren@triadaus.com, and put “PW Request” in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you! ~Lauren

  3. Samantha Fabien says:

    Hi Hannah,

    Congratulations on completing Pitch Wars! You must be thrilled.

    Wow, this pitch and excerpt were like a gut punch in the best way. It truly does remind me of the way The Poet X resonated with me. I’d love to request the full manuscript to continue reading!

    If you’d like to share it, please send the query in the body of an email, with the full manuscript and synopsis attached as a Word doc.

    The subject of the email should be “Pitch Wars Request: CALL HIM BY NAME for Root Literary” sent to submissions@rootliterary.com.

    Although not all of Root Literary is participating in Pitch Wars, please feel free to query whoever feels like the best fit! We’re happy to coordinate internally.

    All the best,

  4. Tamar Rydzinski says:

    Hi Hannah,

    I would love to read your manuscript! Please send the whole thing to querytamar@contextlit.com, making sure to write “Pitch Wars Request” in the subject line.

    Looking forward,

  5. Carlisle Webber says:

    I would like to see this. Please send your query letter and the full manuscript to carlisle @ fuseliterary .com with the subject Pitch Wars Requested Material: TITLE. If you get a request from more than one agent at Fuse, please choose one of us; we don’t compete with each other for manuscripts.

    I look forward to reading your work!

  6. Alexandra Weiss says:

    Hi Hannah! I love novels in verse and your writing sample already blew me away. I’d love to take a look at the full manuscript, which you can submit here: https://querymanager.com/query/AlexandraWeiss/PitchWars2021

    Looking forward to reading more!

    Alex Weiss
    Azantian Literary Agency

  7. Amy Giuffrida says:

    Just from the sample, I can already tell how powerful this novel-in-verse will be. Poetry–especially when it is free verse and non-linear–can move mountains with form and voice. I’d love to see the full manuscript of this. Please send me your query, synopsis, and full manuscript here: QueryManager.com/AmyGiuffrida/PitchWars

    I wish you the best of luck!

  8. Tara Gonzalez says:

    Hi Hannah! I would love to keep reading CALL HIM BY NAME. If you could send me a query with the full manuscript attached to tara@emliterary.com, with “Pitch Wars” in the subject line, that would be fantastic.

    Tara Gonzalez – Associate Agent at Erin Murphy Literary Agency

  9. Cortney Radocaj says:

    Hi Hannah,

    I love your pitch and sample!! Could you please submit your query, synopsis, and first 50 pages to my Query Manager?


    Please mention this is a PitchWars request at the beginning of the query, or in the referral section of the form. If another Belcastro agent requests, please make sure to only submit to one of us (we’re good at sharing!).

    I look forward to seeing your pages!!


    Cortney Radocaj
    Literary Agent
    Belcastro Agency

  10. Peter Knapp says:

    This sounds really powerful. I’d love to read more. Please send a query in the body of the email to queries@parkfine.com with “Pete Knapp – Pitch Wars:CALL HIM BY NAME (YA)” in the subject line. Please attach the manuscript as a Word document, and include a short synopsis (either in the beginning of the same document as the manuscript or as a separate attachment). Thank you, and I’m looking forward to reading.

    Pete Knapp // Park & Fine Literary and Media

  11. Rena Rossner says:

    I would love to read this! Please send the full manuscript attached as a word document to: rena (at) dhliterary (dot) com

    Excited to read!

    – Rena Rossner
    The Deborah Harris Agency

  12. Penelope Burns says:

    Hi Hannah,

    I’d love to see this! If you’re interested, can you send your query and full manuscript to penelope@gelfmanschneider.com, with PitchWars in the subject line? Thank you!

    All best,

  13. Wendi Gu says:

    Hi Hannah,

    My name is Wendi and I’m an agent at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. I’d love to see this manuscript in full! Please send a query letter with the manuscript attached as a Word Document to wgu@sjga.com.

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

    All my best,

  14. Christa Heschke says:

    Wow! This is so powerful and when I saw Dante was one of your mentors I knew I had to request this! Please send the full manuscript, synopsis and query to chquery@mcintoshandotis.com with Pitch Wars request and the title of the manuscript in the subject line. –Christa Heschke, McIntosh & Otis