Please celebrate this spring's award-winning graduate writers of fiction. The Creative Writing Program appreciates the finanical sponsors who make these awards possible, and we express our thanks to our judge, Kiese Laymon.
Kiese Laymon is the author of "Long Division", "How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America", the forthcoming memoir "Heavy", and the forthcoming novel And So On. He is a Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi. The following comments are his.
Hobart L. and Mary Kay Peer Fiction Prize, $1000
Amelia Hawkins, “Shortcake”
These pieces were absolutely incredible. I've had to judge a ton of contests this year, including PEN and LA Times, but these were easily the best pieces I've read. Incredible. I have "Shortcake" as the first place story. I haven't read a short story in years that is as ambitious and phenomenally executed. The story really pivots on a teasing out of this incredibly human "we" who is at once an "I" and most telling a "you." The piece asks the reader over and over again to make decisions with our head and body. It does this partially by describing with pitch perfect description emotional and physical states of safety and terror. "Shortcake" is unafraid of the speakable and supposedly unspeakable slithers of gender, sexuality, violence and intimacy that line all of our memories and imaginations. It is an amazing short story.
Josephine M. Bresee Memorial Award, $500
Liz Howey, “The Boy”
This wonderfully paced story creates a robust mystery in the first paragraph and propels the reader through a series of revelations. I was most impressed with the secondary characterization and the role consumption plays in ways both massive and tiny. The final paragraph of the piece was one of the best final paragraphs I've read all year.