Thanks to a generous gift from alumnus Frank H. Newell, Willamette University’s English Department offers annual prizes for outstanding student work in short fiction to currently enrolled students. English department faculty nominated stories produced in fall creative writing classes, and this year winners were selected by Lenore Myka, author of the award-winning story collection, "King of the Gypsies."
First place: "Cracked" by Aubrey Maciaszek
Judge’s comments: This story is deceptive in its straightforward prose style, but proves the point that one, well-crafted and utilized metaphor is worth a hundred pretty ones. The first-person account of one person’s experiences of owning a flawed “house” resonates with just about any reader, and the pacing and structure are admirable. The story lands the ending on a determined and uplifting note that skillfully dodges sentimentality.
Second place: “The Lost Weekend” by Jason Lange
Judge’s comments: The meta and the metaphysical meet in this funny, sharp, and irreverent story, but it’s the voice of the narrator and—even better—their storytelling friend D’relle, that wins the day here.
Third place: "The Fourth Dimension" by Lani Southern
Judge’s comments: The epistolary approach reinforces the distance between the two characters corresponding about life and physics, and there’s a lovely interplay between the personal and scientific. The email messages as dialogue do a wonderful job of revealing character, most especially of Lydia Samuels.
Please be sure to congratulate these writers when you see them on campus or on screen.
About Frank H. Newell
Mr. Newell graduated from Willamette University in 1949, and subsequently enjoyed a 58-year run in the newspaper and broadcast business. He got his start at Salem’s Capital Journal, where he began in the advertising department. Over the years, he worked his way up through the ranks, and ultimately served as publisher of several news outlets across the nation over his long and successful career. Mr. Newell did not slow down in retirement, however, and at 93, saw his first novel published. He has long had a love for fiction writing, with a particular emphasis on short stories, and wants to foster this interest in future generations of Willamette University students.