It was an honor this year to judge the fiction entries for this year’s Writers’ Cafe entries!
First prize went to Abby Jarrett for her story “False Cypress,” and second prize went to Paige Lawler for her story “Steinway.”
Here are my judge’s notes:
“False Cypress”:I was impressed by the author’s confidence, as well as the vivid use of language and description. Andy Warhol once said that life is a series of images that repeat, and the image in this story’s ending is going to stick with me for a while. “False Cypress” has a real sense of purpose and intention, as well as a layered lonesomeness that arches against the story’s surface.
“Steinway”:“Steinway” is a downright beautiful piece, well-researched and well-rendered. I personally think it’s hard to write about music, but this author made it easy. To my mind, that kind of gracefulness is the best (and loveliest) demonstration of talent. I loved the way this story explored deep, human ideas but never lost sight of the characters’ humanity.
If you’d like, you can browse the past winning entries here. If you do, you might notice that a few names pop up more than once. This is partly because those students are exceptionally talented. (Many of them are former students of mine.) However, I’d guess that many of these winning students probably entered the contest every year of their undergraduate careers. Congratulations to the students who won, and here’s hoping that everyone who entered will try again next year!