2014 Writers@Work Fellowship Competition Results
Fiction judged by Michael Martone
Mil Norman-Risch for “A Straight Clean Line”
Bio: Mil Norman-Risch is a teacher and writer whose work has been published in a number of print journals including Willow Springs, Valparaiso Review, Sojourners, Dogwood, Chariton Review, Tipton Poetry Review, and Sow’s Ear Poetry Review as well as in Agha Shahid Ali’s ghazal anthology, Ravishing DisUnities. Acknowledgement of her work includes various fellowships and prizes, among them a Pushcart nomination.
Michael Martone said about the winning manuscript: “A Straight Clean Line” is an historical fiction that reads dreamily more like a science fiction written in another place and another time. Its details astound, creating, as it charts its world, a map more detailed than the thing it represents. The story is about the horrific aftermath of war and the living dead sleepwalking through the final moments of their amputated lives where everything everything they touch is amplified by the hypersensitivity of a bevy of phantom limbs. The story is that transcendent.Read Mil Norman-Risch’s interview with Writers@Work.
Amalia Melis for “A One Minute Dream”
Bio: Amalia Melis is a Greek-American freelance writer (hard news/features) and a fiction/essay writer who is currently living in Greece. Five sections of her unpublished first novel have been published and/or won awards in Glimmer Train (four times), Ducts and Writers@Work.
She is the founder of the Aegean Arts Circle writing workshops, which host annual writing seminars with award winning international authors in Andros, Greece. An artist as well as writer, her assemblage sculptures have appeared in group art exhibits held in Vermont (U.S.), Athens (Greece) and Berlin (Germany). Born and raised in New York, she has been playing with words as long as she can remember on both sides of the ocean. She has also been involved with film production work on-location with foreign crews in Greece and has handled press work for artists, musicians, organizations and other causes she likes to support. Being able to express herself with writing and three dimensional assemblages feels like she is lucky enough to jump into an empty pool someone has filled with marshmallows.
Anabel Graff for “The Birds on Peach Street”
Bio: Anabel Graff is an MFA student at Texas State University. Her novella, Ghosts in God’s Lungs, is forthcoming from Nook Debuts, Barnes & Noble’s digital platform for new voices.
Finalists for Fiction:
Poetry judged by Ellen Bass
Molly Spencer for “The Mail Order Bride Examines her Lineage”, “The Mail Order Bride Learns to Tie Knots”, “The Mail Order Bride Visits ready.gov”, “The mail Order Bride Explains Herself”, “The mail Order Bride Leaves Instructions in Case of Her Untimely Demise” and “Years Later, The Mail Order Bride Finds Her Answer to His Ad in the Sock Drawer”
Bio: Molly Spencer’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Bellingham Review, Cave Wall, The Massachusetts Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and other journals. She lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area. She writes about poetry, the writing life, and parenthood at https://mollyspencer.wordpress.com/.
Ellen Bass said about the winning manuscript: “The Mail Order Bride…”poems are an admirable series. The poet’s skillful language shows both restraint and elegance, along with keen attention to the music of the poems. The images are vivid and this poet has both a vision and a voice, combining seriousness with a sharp irony. I was quite taken with these poems and they stood out as a clear winner.
Brittney Scott for “Schema”, “To the Teeth”, “Shadow Box”, “Faith in Love and Quantum Physics”, “Coming”, and “Points of Entry”
Bio: Brittney Scott received her MFA from Hollins University. She is the 2012 recipient of the Joy Harjo Prize for Poetry as well as the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as Prairie Schooner, The New Republic, Narrative Magazine, Alaska Quarterly Review, North American Review, Crab Orchard Review, Poet Lore, New South, The Malahat Review, Water~Stone Review, Salamander, Notre Dame Review, Confrontation, The Journal, The Fourth River, Folio, Copper Nickel, Basalt, KNOCK, and Quiddity. Her fiction has appeared in Quarter After Eight. She teaches creative writing to adults, Girl-Scouts, and high-risk youth at Richmond’s Visual Arts Center.
Molly Damm for “If you are a hunter of fossils”, “Signal Fire”, “Vacilar”, “Working the Winter Through”, and “Vacilando Territory Blues”
Originally from Detroit, Molly Damm lives and teaches writing in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she is completing her MFA in poetry at the University of Virginia.
Literary Nonfiction judged by Robin Hemley
Mary Craig for “Objects of My Attention”
Bio: Mary Craig writes creative non-fiction. Born and raised in Oberlin, Ohio, she received dual bachelor’s degrees from Oberlin College and Conservatory in East Asian Studies and Voice Performance. She met her Austrian husband at the Wagner opera festival in Bayreuth, and they have lived as a couple in southwest Germany and in the US (Wisconsin, Oregon, Michigan, and Utah). They now live amid hilly vineyards near Heilbronn, Germany with their daughter and two cats. Mary currently teaches English and academic writing at two business schools and translates German to English. Other teaching subjects include voice, choral singing, German, and creative writing. She is a member of Writers in Stuttgart, an English writing community, and is writing a memoir.
A Salt Lake City “local” at the time, Mary attended her first Writers at Work conference in 2005 after blogging for three years (simonsplace.org) about the illness of her son, Simon, who died of cancer in 2004. Annual conferences provided inspiration and rhythm for her earliest writing and inspired semester-long courses in literature, theory, and writing at the University of Utah English Department. Since moving to Germany in 2010, Mary is returning for the third time to the Writers at Work conference. Writers at Work is her writing home, and the annual trip brings her back to her son’s grave and back to people and places she loves.
Robin Hemley said about the winner: “The essay that affected me deeply in its subject as well as its form was “Objects of My Attention,” a beautiful exploration of grief, of moving on and staying stock still. The author of this piece writes eloquently and unsentimentally about the death of her seven-year old son. As a father, such a piece is going to naturally affect me deeply, and the writer could have described the death of her son, and only that, and it would have been a powerful piece. But I was glad to see that she pushed the essay further, that she flashed forward ten years past his death and her attempts to clean house and still stay true to his memory. Her last line — simple as it is — spoke to me as a powerful testament to the way in which memories hold us in thrall. The idea of a memory breathing is something that I’ve experienced, too — the way in which a powerful memory can take our breath away and seem unbearable — in her case, the image of her dead son floating in front of her before giving way to another memory of him on the stairs looking beyond her, beyond life. The second memory, unlike the first, breathes, thus allowing her to breathe, too. Even if the author told me tomorrow that this never happened, that she never had a son and that he didn’t die, I wouldn’t feel at all betrayed because it would still help me capture something authentic and important about grief.”
Michael Palmer for “A Glossary of West Texas”
Bio: Michael William Palmer’s work has appeared in The Georgetown Review, CutBank, The Collagist, and other journals. He is from Pleasant Grove, Utah, and currently lives in Lubbock, Texas.
Finalists for Literary Nonfiction: