Judged by Stewart O’ Nan, whose latest novel Emily, Alone will be released in March, 2011, is the author of 15 critically acclaimed books of fiction and two books of creative non-fiction.
Quit Claim by Sean Chadwell, Spring, TX
Sean Chadwell, a West Virginia native, has called Texas home for 17 years. From 1998 to 2009, he taught American literature, film studies, and advanced grammar on the U.S. Mexico border in Laredo. Though he missed the mountains of his home state, he learned to appreciate the physical and cultural landscape of South Texas, particularly the small ranching community of Encinal, where he and his wife Donna Lednicky lived for seven years. There, he came to know and admire the people whose perspectives and voices shape so much of Quitclaim. He began writing fiction in earnest in 2009, when he relocated to Pune, India, to join Donna, who works there now. In addition to writing – since drafting the novel, he has been at work on several short stories and a screenplay set in West Virginia – Sean spends his time learning Hindi and volunteering as an English language instructor for a group of teachers who work in a rural farming village near Pune.
The Judge’s Comments: Lovely handling of mood through the first person narrator. In its wistfulness, its use of empty landscapes and the way it looks to the past, it reminds me of The Last Picture Show.
The Award of the 2010 Gold Medal for Best Novel Is Underwritten by a Grant from: Judith “Jude” Swenson
Jude is Honorary Chairman of Words & Music, 2010 and has been a generous supporter of all of the Society’s works on behalf of writers for the last decade. She was Chairman of Juleps in June, 2009. A former journalist,she is devoted to good literature. The award is given in Memory of Her Late Husb and James Swenson. Mr. Swenson was a generous philanthropist and successful businessman who was Chairman of the Board, President andChief Executive Officer of Louisiana General Services, Inc. — with its largest subsidiary, Louisiana Gas Service Company serving much of Louisiana. Louisiana General Services, Inc. also encompassed ten various additional subsidiaries throughout Louisiana, Florida and Minnesota. He was Professor of Finance at the University of New Orleans and the Tulane University MBA Program. A gifted teacher, Mr. Swenson was a visionary ever seeking out and exploring new horizons. He was an outstanding leader of the utmost integrity. An astute chronicler of his own time and life, he was a voracious reader of history, valuing its ultimate contribution to the understanding of future perils and progress in human relations.
Jerusalem as a Second Language, Rochelle Distelheim, Highland Park, IL Rochelle Distelheim’s novel, Jerusalem As a Second Language, won the Faulkner Society’s Gold Medal for Novel-in-Progress in 2004. This year, it placed as First Runner Up in the Novel category. Her work has been published in numerous literary journals; among these: The North American Review, Nimrod, Other Voices, Story Quarterly, Descant and Confrontation, and has been widely anthologized. She has been awarded five Illinois Arts Council Fellowships in Fiction and her other literary awards include the Katharine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction. Her work has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 2010 a chapter of Song of Sol, her current novel-in-progress, was a Finalist in Press 53’s Open Awards Competition.
The Judge’s Comments:
A large, well-drawn portrait of a family starting over in a new and strange land.
The Romanovs Wish You Health in the New Year, Linda Gorelova, Dublin, OH. Linda Gorelova teaches Special Education in an urban high school in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her son. Previously, she worked for the State Department as a Russian/English interpreter. She has translated numerous articles, monographs, and a screenplay. Her story Cat, Dog, Horse, was published in the Spring 2008 issue of the Bellevue Literary Review. Her family is from Floyd County, KY.
The Judge’s Comments:
Old-fashioned yet a satisfying and intimate look at a legendary and mysterious moment in history.
Almost Perfect, Diane Daniels Manning, Houston, TX
American Captive, Richard Weber, Geneva, Switzerland
Raising Aphrodite, Kirk Curnutt, Montgomery, AL
The Ex-Suicide, Katherine Clark, New Orleans, LA
Judged by National Book Award winner Julia Glass, whose latest novel is The Widower’s Tale.
Katheryn Krotzer Laborde is winner of the Faulkner Society’s 2010 gold medal for Best Novella for her manuscript: His Name Was Mu Bob Wang. When her family moved to New Orleans in 1970, Katheryn had no idea she was moving to a place that would shape her soul and influence her to become a writer. In the years since, she has written short fiction and literary nonfiction, and has worked as a publicist, a freelance feature writer, and, finally, as an English professor at Xavier University of Louisiana.
A graduate of the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop, she is a recipient of a Louisiana Division of the Arts Artists Fellowship and a Louisiana Cultural Economy Grant. Her book Do Not Open: The Discarded Refrigerators of Post-Katrina New Orleans (McFarland) explores the time when marked and messaged ice boxes not only dotted the ruined landscape, but gave tangible proof that residents of Orleans and Jefferson parishes had a collective spirit that could not be drowned and silenced.
The Judge’s Comments
Cleverly and deceptively, His Name Was Mu Bob Wang begins as an atmospheric yet seemingly predictable story of another one-night stand in the Big Easy. What it becomes is something else entirely. On the surface, it’s a tale about two estranged sisters reunited in a crisis. More significantly, it’s an unusual contemporary fable about why we need stories: how the imagination, more seductively than any lover, can join disparate souls.
The Award of the 2010 Gold Medal for Best Novella Is Underwritten by a Grant from: Bertie Deming Smith & The Deming Foundation. Mrs. Smith and The Deming Foundation also are Co-Presenters of Words & Music, 2010 . Mrs. Smith is shown here with her husband, the late Joe D. Smith, former publisher of the Alexandria Town Talk, at a Words & Music event. Mrs. Smith has been a strong supporter of Words & Music since it was founded on William Faulkner’s 100th birthday.
The Patriot Joe Morton, Michael DeVault, Monroe, LA. Michael DeVault began his writing career in Junior High, when his first short story won his school’s literature competition. Since then, Michael has written extensively both fiction and non-fiction. His Novella A Glimpse of Tuscany was serialized in SaucyVox – a Literary Journal. In 2002, the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society selected his novel, Anything But Ordinary (Arctic Wolf, 2008), as a finalist for the Society’s Novel-in-Progress gold medal. In addition to his fictional pursuits, Michael is a working journalist and critic. His work has appeared in newspapers throughout Louisiana as well as in Delta Style Magazine and The Atlasphere.com. He lives and works in Monroe, LA.
The Judge’s Comments: A well-crafted portrait of modern small-town America, depicting how a group of private, ordinary lives are affected when a prominent and locally revered citizen commits a very public and quite out-of-the-ordinary act in response to a personal tragedy. There’s a fine pinch of Thornton Wilder in its shifting point of view and the author’s affection for all the characters involved.
After Freddie Left, Chris Waddington, New Orleans, LAâ€¨
Chris Waddington of New Orleans writes about music and dance for The Times-Picayune. Notable magazine editors have published Waddington’s fiction for more than a decade. Gordon Lish chose two pieces for The Quarterly. Andrei Codrescu ran short-shorts in Exquisite Corpse. Dawn Raffel picked his work for the New York-based online journal Guernica. John Biguenet published a story in New Orleans Review. Waddington’s stories also ran in The Rake, a Minneapolis city magazine, where they appeared alongside fiction by Ron Carlson, Stuart Dybek and other established talents. Agent Ben Camardi of the Harold Matson Company represents Waddington’s story collection, A Rope Trick. The collection includes two novellas, both set in New Orleans —where Waddington lives with his wife and three-year-old son. After Freddie Left is one of the two novellas in the collection. Waddington served as books editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune for five years. His writing about visual art has appeared in the Oxford American, Art and Antiques, Art in America, and also inThe Times-Picayune, where he worked as a staff critic in the mid-1990s.
The Judge’s Comments: This is one of several novellas I read that are set in post-Katrina New Orleans, tells the story of a young woman who must find a way to rise from the ashes of a breakup she knows she may live to regret–and from the inertia of self-deception. Hard as it is to navigate the smoky maze of artistic cliché surrounding this city, a setting hazardous for all but the most clear-eyed writers, this one clearly knows his way around its quirks, its sorrows, and its ever-resilient siren song.
Camp Olvido, Lawrence Coates, Bowling Green, OH
Diary of a Darling, Wendy Ralph, West Columbia, SC
If: An Allegory, Jonathan Byrd, Cropwell, AL
Life According to Rocking Chair, Nancy Brock, Columbia, SC
Next,Kevin Finucane, Denver, CO
Our Eyes Were Closed, Meagan McCollum, Eldridge, AL
Peace, Talila Millman, Highland Park, IL
That Strange Darkness, Matthew Boedy, Columbia, SC
The Blue Stoop, Zack O’Neill, Columbia, SC
This category was judged by Michael Murphy, literary agent.
Wanton Women, Jennifer Stewart, New Orleans, LA. Jennifer Stewart is a 2006 graduate of the University of New Orleans’ Low-Residency MFA in poetry. She currently works for the Low-Residency MFA Program at UNO as the Coordinator of the Study Abroad Programs in Writing. Publications include Florida English, Sentence, Exquisite Corpse, The Cream City Review, andBig Bridge. She recently completed her first novel,Wanton Women. Jennifer lives in New Orleans, writes in coffee shops, and in her spare time, teaches people how to bend funny ways.
Using a unique twist on the epistolary novel, Wanton Women creates a life changing exchange between two women. Jillian Easter is a young woman living in Chicago, working on a Master’s thesis in English, working her way through drunk men in bars, and missing her mother, the only family she’s ever known, and then reading revealing letters written by her recently dead grandmother. What lifted this manuscript above all others in the competition was the beautifully realized character of Lillian, the grandmother. Through her letters describing her life in the mountains of North Carolina, Lillian becomes a notable voice and fully articulated personality to stand mid point between 11 year old Ellen Foster (Kaye Gibbons) and 99-year-old Lucy Marsden (Allan Gurganus), as one of the strong Southern Women characters in contemporary works.
The Award of the 2010 Gold Medal for Best Novel-in-Progressi s Underwritten by a Grant from: Rosemary James & Joseph J. DeSalvo, Jr. Rosemary and Joe are owners of the house where Faulkner wrote his first novel and co-founders of the Faulkner Society and Words & Music.
Subway, Elizabeth Thomas, Geneva, Switzerland
Elizabeth Haraldsdottir-Thomas, author of the novel-in-progress Subway, is a dual national of Britain and Iceland. A graduate of the University of Stockholm, she has lived in New York City and is currently a resident of Geneva, Switzerland, where she has been a senior director of a United Nations affiliated agency. Her novel-in-progress White Smoke was also a finalist in this year’s competiton.
The Subway effectively fulfills the genre specific demands & expectations of the suspense novel through smart writing, strong dialog, and clever plot twists. On a snowy night in New York, seven unrelated people are found murdered on the
F-Train. The method of their killing suggests a madman (or group) that intends to kill more. The Subway reaches beyond the well worn trail of the New York procedural as a hardened group, Retired FBI Agent, Robert O’Hara, Lt. Flo Ott, & others try to solve the crime before the murderer strikes again. As they look into each victim for possible cause or connections, the stories of the dead unearth a picture of a corrupt and decaying city. Unlike a simple who-dunnit, The Subway slowly paints a portrait of New York City as a foundation character for the novel in a manner used in great works like Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities and DeLillo’s Underworld.
The Invention of Violet, Amy Boutell, Santa Barbara, CA. Amy Boutell is a graduate of Barnard College and holds an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, where she was a James A. Michener Fellow. She has been awarded a residency at the Ragdale Foundation and scholarships to the Norman Mailer Writers Colony and Summer Literary Seminars. Her short stories have been published in New Letters,Nimrod, and Other Voices, and she has been a finalist for the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction, the Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction, the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, and the William Faulkner Short Story Competition. She lives in Santa Barbara, where she works for Fielding Graduate University. Her first novel, The Invention of Violet, is set in the world of vintage fashion in Los Angeles.
Judge’s Comments: Violet West is a 33 year old woman on the verge of not being on the verge of anything. She’s ‘waisted’ the last 7 years caring for her younger sister as her mercurial (absentee) mother travels the globe. Her personal life is as shallow as her bank accounts. Violet has lucked into a stay at an exclusive Beverly Hills hotel (where she hoards the free mini toiletries). She uses the reprieve to make (not remake) her life midstream and becomes involved in dealing antique clothing & jewelry. In Los Angeles, this profession unfolds into a layered comedy of manners. Violet has a highly desired rhinestone bracelet from the 1920’s that any number of Hollywood starlets would pay top dollar to wear in the red carpet. This places Violet in harm’s way of the dreaded Sterling sisters boutique matrons, her ex-step father, the supposed heirs to the bracelet, and a return of her erstwhile mother. The Invention of Violet is a clever coming-of-age story, well past the age when one should have come, with inventive scenes and hints of the Ephron sisters.
And in the End, Martha Burns, La Luz, NM
Chance & Circumstances, Matthew A. Minson, Houston, TX
Comfort Food, Peggy O’Neal Peden, Nashville, TN
Hannah Delivered, Elizabeth Jared Andrew, Minneapolis, MN
Hannah’s Left Hook, Brian McKeown, Worcester, MA
Here With The Saints, Paula Younger, Denver, CO
Kudzu Rising, Mary Brent Cantarutti, San Rafael, CA
Little Gods, John Malone, Lafayette, LA
Markers, Mary Hutchins Reed, Chicago, IL
The Principles of Mining, Sharon Thatcher, Boise, ID
The Unimaginable Joy of Waiting for the Queen of China,Chielo Eze, Chicago, IL
Visitors, Audrey Colombe, Tampa, FL
White Smoke, Elizabeth Thomas, Geneva, Switzerland
This category was judged by Tom Franklin (click here for his full bio).
Goodnight Uncle Vincent, Brian Schneider, St. Helen, MI. Brian Schneider, who will be presenting a paper on the Literature of War & Collateral Damage during Words & Music, 2010, is a former U.S. Air Force Sergeant, former military contractor, and veteran of the American war in Afghanistan. He grew up in the small town of St. Helen in northern Michigan and has also lived in Italy and Canada. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from the University of Maryland and a Master of Arts Degree in English from the University of British Columbia. He currently is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of British and American Studies at the University of Constance in Germany where he focuses on contemporary American war writing. In addition, he also teaches English courses at U.S. military installations in Europe for the University of Maryland University College. His fiction has appeared in several magazines and he is currently working to publish his first novel,This is Squalorville, about his experiences with the war in Afghanistan and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
The Judge’s Comments:
A powerful story set in the great struggling city of Detroit, where one family faces dire circumstances at Christmas. But the two older sons, who ride bicycles to a nearby bar, refuse to be cowed by tragedy. The older tells his brother that they’re Jameson men who can hold their own with Scotch drinkers, that they can hang in there. This story—with its honesty and the care which this writer took to make these characters people—moved me and stayed with me for days after I first read it.
The Award of the 2010 Gold Medal for Best Short Story Is Made Possible by Anonymous Donors at Members of The
The Pie Man, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, New Orleans, LA. Maurice Ruffin, a native New Orleanian, is a founding member of the Peauxdunque Writers’Alliance, a multi-genre writers group formed under the auspices of the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society’s Words & Music Writers’ Alliance. Maurice is first runner-up for the Short Story Prize in the 2010 William Faulkner Wisdom Creative Writing Competition for his story The Pie Man. Maurice was also a finalist for two other short stories Abracadabra in 2009 and Fit in 2010. Currently, he is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of New Orleans. Maurice also practices law with the firm of Adam & Reese. He will read a short excerpt from the The Pie Man at the Writers’ Alliance Session, Wednesday afternoon, November 17.
The Judge’s Comments: A tragic story of American life gone askew but trying, ever trying, to right itself. This story’s terrific voice is what you notice first, the narrative reflecting the consciousness of a boy named Baby as he maneuvers through the aftermath of a violent crime. And it’s the story of The Pie Man, baby’s his half-present perhaps-father, a character damaged by war and unforgettably drawn. A beautiful story.
Break, Marylee MacDonald, Evanston, IL
Marylee MacDonald, a former carpenter with a Masters in Creative Writing from San Francisco State, lives in Arizona. She has published in American Literary Review, New Delta Review, The Briar Cliff Review, North Atlantic Review, The Bellevue Literary Review, River Oak Review, Story Quarterly, Raven Chronicles, Ruminate, Four Quarters, and the Blue Moon Literary & Art Review. Her short story, Almost Paradise, won the 2009 Matt Clark Prize competition. Finding Peter won the American Literary Review 2010 Fiction Prize. Her novel, Unpaid Labor, about mothers who would do anything to keep fate from harming their children, was a finalist for the Bellwether Prize.
The Judge’s Comments: It is a road and work story, and a times-are-tough story, and you feel yourself pulled along with these characters, feeling for both men, employer and employee, even as the former makes tough decisions and the latter is tempted by a better offer. Good, clear writing and an earned ending make this a story to read and reread.
Antoine, Simon Russell, Elwood, Victoria, Australia
Buy-One-Get-One, Jenn Marie Nunes, Baton Rouge, LA
Eagle Beach, Jim Fairhall, Chicago, IL
Float, Laura Forster Maheshwary, Chicago, IL
Grief, William Coles, Chapel Hill, NC
Hidden, Lisa Lopez Snyder, Columbia, SC
King’s Highway, Catherine Brown, Chicago, IL
Leaving Halves, Julia Carey, New Orleans, LA
Second to Last, Derek Bridges, New Orleans, LA
Stitches of Light, Michael Zell, New Orleans, LA
The Weight of Grace, Naomi Benaron, Tucson, AZ
Wade’s Technique, Mary Ann D’Agincourt, Westwood, MA
This category was judged by Beth Ann Fennelly.
Train to Trebon, Beverly Blasingame, Iowa City, IA. Beverly Blasingame writes fiction and nonfiction from her home in Iowa City, Iowa. Prior to relocating to her native state, she managed programs to support military families while employed with the federal government. She retired with her husband in Ocean Springs, Mississippi until Hurricane Katrina destroyed their neighborhood. While in Mississippi, she won a Creative Nonfiction Fellowship from Mississippi Arts Commission and worked as writer-in-residence and creative writing teacher for Community in the Schools. Literary prizes include the Dorothy Churchill Cappon Prize for the Essay from New Letters and John Woods Scholarships to Prague Summer Writing Program. She recently attended essay workshops in the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Program as a non-degree student. Her work has appeared in New Letters and Stars and Stripes.
The Judge’s Comments: I chose The Train to Trebon because of its haunting, meditative quality and insight. While it appears at first to be a typical travel narrative, the piece surprises in that the author never arrives at his/her destination during the course of the essay. The train ride through the Czech Republic becomes less about arriving than about the circular nature of time and the writer’s insights into how early childhood experiences shaped his/her lifelong stance as an observer who is most comfortable on the move. Finally, there are some gorgeous and accurate details here that make the journey a vivid one for the reader. It’s very well done.
The Award of the 2010 Gold Medal for Best Essay is Underwritten by a Grant from E. Quinn Peeper. Quinn, a member of the Faulkner Society’s Executive Board, is shown here with his partner, Michael Harold, and Society member Jeannie Clinton at Juleps in June, 2010. Quinn, Michael, and Jeannie chaired the most successful Juleps in June fundraiser for the Society several years ago and have agreed to co-chair Juleps in June, 2011.
Anti-Social Media, Shari Jean Stauch, Summerville, SC. Shari Jean Stauch has been involved in publishing, marketing, and public relatiions for 30 years. She is the co-creator of Pool & Billiard Magazine, celebrating 27 years as the sport’s oldest monthly magazine. In 2004 she retired from the Women’s Pro Billiard Tour after a 20 year career as a top player and marketer/co-creator of the tour (inducted into the WPBA Hall of Fame in 2007) to pursue development of Shark Marketing Co. and serve a growing community of writers and authors. As an executive board member of Charleston, South Carolina’s Center for Women, she heads the Center’s Women’s Writer Series. In 2008, Stauch signed on as Co-Director of Programming for Words & Music: A Literary Feast in New Orleans, and worked to re-launch the organization’s website. Stauch continues to work with the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society as well as with agents, editors, writers and aspiring authors throughout the U.S., using her marketing and PR talents to help authors broaden their audiences. Stauch is a certified coach, an award-winning essayist and fiction writer, and 4x Faulkner-Wisdom finalist, including 2x as an Essay finalist. She has also been a finalist and was First Runner-up in the novel-in progress category in 2007, and was 2004 Essay Winner for South Carolina’s Catfish Stew. She is the author of four non-fiction books with publisher Human Kinetics and is now completing a novel set in her hometown of Chicago, IL. An op-ed piece she wrote for Redroom.com about New Orleans recently appeared on AOL News internationally.
The Judge’s Comments
This is an arch, witty, well-rendered essay on the prevalence of technology in our lives. While much has been written on the topic, the author of this essay brings fresh insight, personal anecdote, and wry social psychology to bear. The piece feels deftly paced and in control while still managing to delight.
Agashi, Eodi Gayo? (Young Lady, Where are You Going?), Alexis Stratton, Columbia, SC
Alexis Stratton is a native of Illinois but has spent her life in many homes, from the Carolinas to South Korea. Although her nomadic self is calling her to see other parts of the world, she is currently working, teaching, and writing in Columbia, SC, where she’s enrolled in the University of South Carolina’s MFA in Creative Writing program. Her work has most recently appeared in The Drum Literary Magazine, Two Hawks Quarterly, Pure Francis, and The Korea Fulbright Review, and she received second place in The State Newspaper’s Single Poem Contest last spring. Besides writing and reading, in her spare time, Alexis likes to practice Tae Kwon Do, cycle through Columbia’s beautiful urban landscape, and volunteer at various local non-profits.
The Judge’s Comments
This essay makes quick cuts between different scenes during the author’s time teaching English in Korea. I admire how many balls are kept in the air here. We have a nuanced sensory appreciation for the author’s Korea, as well as a sense of the transformation the author went though and the main characters influencing her/his life during that time. The almost collage-like structure is efficient and graceful.
A Mean Marathon With Meaning, Linda M. Bui, Baton Rouge, LA
Death and Fat Sandwiches, Heather Phillis, Abu Dhabai, UAE
Fully Human, Anne Webster, Atlanta, GA
Mythmakers, Tad Bartlett, New Orleans, LA
Not Holding On, But Letting Go, Sudy Vance Leavy, Darien, GA
Secret Agent Man, Barbara Donnelly Lane, Marietta, GA
Signs From God, Cara Jones, Baton Rouge, LA
Take Me Out, Rachel Van Sickle, Baton Rouge, LA
The Homicide Detective, Franklin Cox, Atlanta, GA
The Purple Gown, Kira Holt, Wimberly, TX
Judged by Nicole Cooley, awarded the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, a “Discovery”/Nation Award, and the Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America. She directs the new MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation at Queens College-City University of New York.
Sappho Sorts by Julia Carey of New Orleans, LA. Julia Carey is a long-time resident of New Orleans and is an MFA candidate at Louisiana State University. Her work can be found at juliacarey.com and in New Orleans: What Can’t Be Lost, 88 Stories from the Sacred City and Louisiana in Words. She has supported the journals The New Orleans Review, The Dudley Review, and the New Delta Review with her editorial labors. In the fall of 2010, the musical groupHarvest, with whom Julia sings and plays keys, will release their first album: Look What Volunteered.
The Judge’s Comments:
I chose the wonderful series of poems Sappho Sorts as the first prize contest winner. I love this trio because of its inventive use of language, form and intertextuality. The use of ancient texts wonderfully illustrates Ezra Pound’s dictum “Make it new.” I admire the delicate and surprising images here that set Sappho’s fragments against new lines to create an entirely new poetic universe, one that is rich and intricate and emotionally resonant.
The Award of the 2010 Gold Medal for Poem is Underwritten by David Speights. The award is given in memory of his late wife, Marti Speights, pictured here at Juleps in June, who was a serious reader, a tireless activist on behalf of the arts, and a member of the Faulkner Society’s Advisory Council. She and David were Libris I and Thalia I at the first meeting of the Krewe of Libris in 2006.
Epithalamion: For Emily by Christopher Hannan of New Orleans, LA.
The Judge’s Comments:
This poem impressed me with its deft use of metaphor. Love poems are infamously difficult to write, and this poem makes the body into a landscape and landscape into a body in beautiful ways which redefine the epithalamion as a for
New Orleans River Morning Congress by Ralph Adamo of New Orleans, LA
Ralph Adamo is a New Orleans native and graduate of the Arkansas writer’s workshop. He has published poetry in magazines and anthologies over the last 40 years and his work is collected in six published volumes, most recentlyWaterblind: New & Selected Poems (2002). He currently is seeking publishers for two new collections. He has worked as a journalist, and taught, since 1988, at UNO, LSU, Loyola, Tulane Universities, and since 2007 at Xavier University. He edited Barataria Review in the 1970s, New Orleans Review in the 90s, and will become editor of Xavier Review in 201l. He has won awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Louisiana Endowment for the Arts, the Open Society Institute, and a YADDO residency. He and his wife Kay are raising a fourth-grader, Jack, and a second-grader, Lily.
The Judge’s Comments:
This is a lovely poem that blends natural details describing the city’s landscape with details that also reveal the landscape’s new realities—trailers, Road Home payments, and the exodus of citizens. I admire the way this poem utilizes sections to show these merging parts of life in New Orleans.
A Crown of Flowers: Ars Poetica, Manfred Pollard, New Orleans, LA
Drift of Tallow, Mignon Fahr, Covington, LA
Finding John Banville, Irene Mosvold, Louisville, KY
Left Over Man, Pat Gallant, New York, NY
My Grandmother’s Wedding, Eve Brouwer, Covington, LA
‘Nam, Abbie Hoffman, and So Much More, Lynn Veach Sadler, Sanford, NC
Not Now, Dennis Formento, Slidell, LA
Song to a Floozie, Anne Webster, Atlanta, GA
The Clock Tower of Eternal Midnight, David Saenz, Austin, TX
The Duck Lady of Center City, Philadelphia, Paul Saluk, Pembroke Pines, FL
The Retired Ballerina Teaches Balanchine’s Firebird To A Young Ballerina, Wayne Lee Gay, Denton, TX
Short Story by a High School Student
Saturday, When He Told Them, Sana Shuja, Kenner, LA
Sana Shuja graduated from St. Mary’s Dominican High School and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) in May 2010. She is proud to call herself the daughter of Dr. Muhammad Shuja and Mrs. Aneela Shuja, a successful fiction writer whose father the late Brigadier General Nazir Ahmed was a non-fiction writer. Sana has been writing since middle school but began developing a sense of literary style during her junior and senior years while a student in the creative writing program at NOCCA, which she attended from the summer before sophomore year to the end of her high school career. During the last two years of high school, Sana began participating in spoken word events in the New Orleans area, leading eventually to her current position as one-sixth of the 2010 New Orleans Youth Slam team, with whom she traveled to Los Angeles, CA, in July to participate in the international youth slam festival, Brave New Voices. She is immensely grateful to her NOCCA instructors, especially Lara Naughton, for all their insight, encouragement, and commitment. Sana is presently in her first semester of college at the University of Southern California, where she is majoring in comparative literature with a double minor in human rights and cultural anthropology while on the pre-med track. She is unable to attend Words & Music because of school exams. Her prize was accepted for her by her mother, Aneela Shuja, also a writer who has placed in the short story category.
Judge’s Comments: The winning manuscript, Saturday, When He Told Him, in my estimation, scores in every category. It shows a strong command of language, has lovely, sharp descriptions, interesting characters, and deals with themes that resonate beyond the intimate scope of the story. The story takes place in the few rooms of an apartment, over part of a day, and concerns a young man who confronts his parents over a decision he’s made regarding his Islamic beliefs and what he’s been “called to.” The point of view shifts back and forth between the son and the mother, who, in response to her son, begins to question her own beliefs. Exactly what the boy’s been “called to” remains a mystery, but the father sides with the boy, and the story ends with the mother feeling threatened by her family. The most impressive feature of this story is the writer’s ability to give the reader the sense of being an invisible observer dropped into the middle of a very real family. We’re not quite sure who they are or what they’re arguing about at first, but we’re compelled to watch them, and over the course of a few pages, as we grow to understand them, we begin to have the uneasy feeling that whatever happens with this family will have ramifications for all of us.
The Award of the 2010 Gold Medal for Best Story by a High School Student is Underwritten by a Grant from: Nancy & Hartwig Moss, III. Nancy Moss was a member of the Faulkner Society’s board, and received the Society’s ALIHOT Award for her dedicated service to the arts. Both Nancy and Hartwig currently are members of the Advisory Council. The high school short story prize is given annually in memory of his mother, shown here seated, the well known New Orleans architect and preservationist, Betty Moss.
Sister, Allie Casala, New Orleans, LA.
Allie Casala, a student of New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, whose sponsoring teacher is poet-essayist Andy Young, finds her inspiration from those around her and issues that raise her concern. She plans to attend college soon for either creative writing or zoology. She has studied with many inspiring writers at NOCCA and at the Kenyon Young Writers workshop at Kenyon college, and has “found her muses to be ever strong and, unfortunately, resistant.”
The Judge’s Comments
The story takes place in an apocalyptic future, where families are not allowed outside their homes and the only news comes from flyers slipped under their doors. The narrator’s sister develops a mysterious “infection” and is found by her parents in a nearby hotel, bleeding in a bathtub. She’s rescued and taken home, where the family locks themselves inside again. There’s lots of compelling mystery and eeriness in this story. Its most powerful feature, though, is its stark and poetic use of language. Sentences are chopped up into fragments, creating a staccato shorthand that matches the grim urgency of the situation. Each phrase, each word, feels as though it has been chosen and placed for rhythm and sound, so that as you read the story, it seems to sing.
Mr. Hooker’s Inhabitants, M’Bilia Meekers, New Orleans, LA
M’Bilia Meekers is a student at Lusher Charter School. This year, she is completing the fourth level of Lusher’s Certificate of Artistry in Creative Writing program, directed by hersponsoring teacher, poet Brad Richard. She currently lives in New Orleans with her parents, Anastasia Gage and Dominique Meekers, and hopes to pursue writing in college.
The Judge’s Comments:
This story is about a middle-aged man who’s convinced that he’s living inside a wound on the back of John Lee Hooker, the blues singer. His friends in the neighborhood bar think he’s crazy, but at the end, his wife Rachel confirms Henry’s belief: they apparently really are living inside a wound on Hooker’s back. I loved this story for its weird premise, and then the author’s determination to follow through on the idea in such a logical, thorough manner. The characters and setting are nicely drawn, too. In a few descriptive strokes, with some choice dialogue, the writer brings to life Henry, his wife, and the strange world they inhabit.
Just a Dog, Isaac Hellemn, Plano, TX
Isaac Hellemn recently graduated in the fourth percentile of his class from Plano West Senior High School in Plano, TX. He was a member of the varsity swim team for three years as well as a National Merit Scholar. He has earned perfect scores on all seven AP tests that he has taken and also finds time for such interests as jazz piano, creative story writing, and screenplay writing. He speaks comfortable Spanish and some Chinese. One of his favorite hobbies is mountain climbing, and he has ascended Mt. Shasta in Northern California and Mt. Fuji in Tokyo, Japan. One of his most memorable service experiences was a local church group that cared for developmentally challenged children, at which he volunteered regularly for several years. Isaac will enroll at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to pursue a business major. To that end, Isaac recently took a major role in the running of his family-owned corporation, a medical export business that operates in China. Isaac was sponsored in the Faulkner – Wisdom C by Lauren Hodum, his teacher in Advance Placement English Literature. Isaac credits Mrs. Hodum with greatly broadening his appreciation of literature and teaching him a more in-depth and emotional approach to creative writing.
The Judge’s Comments:
This story is about a young war vet who finds a dead dog on the side of the road in an upscale neighborhood. The man buys a shovel and buries the dog in the flowerbed in the front yard of a house. As he’s finishing up, he’s confronted by another man in a car, and in the end, the vet wanders off, wondering about his actions. I admired the simplicity of this story: the clean language and the clarity of the action and situation. The underlying themes aren’t simple, though, and the dead dog becomes the center around which revolve issues of life, death, war, and the fate of war vets.
Before the Land, Kayla Rodney, Terrytown, LA
Cats Left Around a Driveway, Kendall Daigle, River Ridge, LA
Fever-bruised, Analise Torcson, Covington, LA
Hellova Girl, Ash McCord, New Orleans, LA
In Love with a Ghost, Molly Malone, Nashville, TN
Keeping My Promise, Shauna K. Moore, Gretna, LA
Large Autumn Gold, Leigh Zook, Hampton Cove, AL
Never look Up, Brent Thibodeaux, New Orleans, LA
Orchids and Sugar, Scarlett McCarthy, Idyllwild, CA
That Day, Caroline Greene, Brentwood, TN
The Business Trip, Avery Friend, Covington, LA
Season of Flies, Cassidy McLoughlin, Covington, LA
Small Talk, Kelly Pettus, New Orleans, LA
Trivial Gatherings, Ryanne Autin, Metairie, LA
When a Dog Marries a Hog, Brianna Harrison, New Orleans, LA