Friends of Writers is pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Larry Levis Post-Graduate Stipend: Rose Skelton in Fiction for HOMESCAR, and Noah Stetzer in Poetry for BOYS GUIDE TO DANGER & HOUSEWORK . Each winner receives $4000. The judge in fiction was Peter Ho Davies. The judge in poetry was Allison Joseph.
Congratulations to Rose and Noah, and many thanks to everyone who applied. Both judges report that choosing just one winner in each category was a difficult decision, as there were so many high-quality entries.Finalists in poetry included Francine Conley, Cynthia Saunders Quinones, and Luke Brekke. Finalists in Fiction were Avra Elliott, Laura Moretz, and Terri Leker.
In 2018 there will again be two awards, one in poetry and one in fiction. Submission guidelines will be available and the amount of the 2018 awards announced as of August 1, 2018, with submissions accepted beginning September 1.
Read an excerpt from Every Living Species, a novel by Erin Stalcup (fiction, ’04), available now through Gold Wake Press:
from Every Living Species:
the northern tip of Manhattan, the sixty-six acres of Fort Tryon Park had been transformed into The Aviary. Climate zones were built to house twelve of every living species of bird on earth—Polar, Desert, Coastal, and three kinds of forest: Deciduous, Coniferous, Rain. To launch this museum, Cabela’s and Canon teamed up to host the Birds of the World Timed Birding Contest. One thousand pairs of birders would be the first to see The Aviary, and would compete: three days to identify as many species as possible, and on the fourth day ten million dollars would be awarded to the first-place pair. Each of the 250 sovereign nations had sponsored a team; the United States sponsored fifty indigenous teams; there were fifty indigenous teams representing the rest of the globe; the ACLU sponsored fifty Visibility Teams made up of underrepresented individuals; Amnesty International sponsored one hundred Peace Teams combining members from nations that had experienced recent or historical conflict; and there were five hundred pairs of paying customers.
This is what the birds would see if they ventured beyond the climate where they were
most comfortable, though they didn’t have language to say it: a glare of barren white, a swath of verdant green, scarlet desert sand, a lucent lake, a sea. Alpine lichen abutted arctic ice, cacti stood adjacent to grassland, and all three kinds of forest flanked each other—leafed, needled, jungle—just like on the planet, but compressed. No walls separated environments, so contestants would walk under a canopy of branches and arrive in the tropics, moisture streaming from unseen machines in the sky. Nearby, mechanisms masked as stones circulated frigid air in the late New York summer, kept ice intact for a small space, and contraptions released snow every hour on the hour. Chilled air drifted away at the edges, transitioned to a woodland of spruces, firs, and pines. Farther along contestants could stand between a miniature ocean and a freshwater lake, see two shores at once. Sand led to the arid zone, where an apparatus baked the liquid out of the air. The tightest knit of chain link surrounded the park, an optical-fiber canopy stretched overhead.
Inwood Hill Park had been converted to a campground for contestants, 196 acres of original forest north of The Aviary, the only place in the city you could still see trees that had been alive for over a century. Many New Yorkers thought all the parks were what was left of prehistoric forest, and skyscrapers had grown around what had been preserved, but in fact most of Manhattan Island had been flat as a field. Fort Tryon Park had been rocky and thin-soiled until nearly one hundred years before when Frederick Law Olmsted brought in fertile dirt, planted oaks, moved boulders, scooped out promenades. Olmsted positioned every stone in Central Park, situated each tree, dug and filled the lake, then duplicated his work in Fort Tryon. The architects for the Canon and Cabela’s Birds of the World Timed Birding Contest pulled out Olmsted’s maples, replaced them with palms and piñons.
The masses were gathering, preparing to compete to see who could witness the most beauty, bringing their cravings and fancies and fears, drawn as if the colored lines of subway tracks on maps stretched across the globe to wrap people and pull them close—and New York City was planning a party to greet the beginning of the end of the world.
American Ballet Theatre would perform a double-bill of Swan Lake and Firebird. The Metropolitan Opera would present Die Vogel. The Museum of Natural History would have an exhibit called Extinction: one wing holding paintings, photos, and stuffed specimens of every extinct bird, so contestants could come as close as possible to seeing every species that ever existed; a wing featuring taxidermy of other extinct animals; a wing of artifacts and relics of extinct peoples and languages; and of course dinosaurs. Revive & Restore sponsored an exhibit called De-Extinct, where you could see live species that had been returned, but weren’t quite yet ready for release into the wild. The Cloisters showcased medieval conceptions of birds, tapestries and illuminated manuscripts. Art galleries hosted Brandon Ballengee’s erasures of Audubon’s prints, Frederick Murphy’s and Alicia Kanade’s photographs of viruses that could decimate the human population, and photographs from National Geographic entitled What Still Remains. Banksy’s retirement project would be to graffiti a bird a day in an obscure location during the month of September so some could search outside of the park, for free, and the resuscitated piano bar Rose’s Turn would host an all-bird-name drag show, emceed by Tequila Mockingbird. Most bars would feature bird-themed cocktail specials, some restaurants would feature fowl-free menus for the duration, while others would run ostrich and squab and quail and pheasant and turkey specials beyond the regular chicken. “Come see the spectacle!” the papers all proclaimed. “Celebrate obliteration in all five boroughs.”
BIO: Erin Stalcup is the author of the story collection, And Yet It Moves (Indiana University Press 2016) and the novel, Every Living Species (Gold Wake Press 2017). Her fiction has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Kenyon Review Online, The Sun, and elsewhere, and her creative nonfiction about her teaching experiences was listed as a Notable Essays in Best American Essays 2016. After earning her MFA from Warren Wilson Program for writers, she served as the Joan Beebe Teaching Fellow. Erin has also taught in community colleges, universities, and prisons in New York City, North Carolina, and Texas, and she now teaches fiction writing at her alma mater, Northern Arizona University, in her hometown of Flagstaff. Erin co-founded and co-edits Waxwing: www.waxwingmag.org. You can read more of her work at www.erinstalcup.com.
A poem by Jennifer Givhan (poetry, ’15) appears in Blackbird:
Warn the Young Ones
First war She polishes the spine of her own
flesh Tethered nerve strangling cord She
burial mounds She rituals She
cornstalks in rustling fields Nothing tribe
nothing sex Rock for riverbed Notched
with flint Second war She needs less Sequoia
burns Cities In her body wrappings
of bodies She debates running She debates peeling
skin She stops debating begins praying without
knees Not for rain Prays rain Holy nothing
. . . continue reading here.
A story by Geoff Kronik (fiction, ’12) appears in Blood Orange Review:
I know the two girls are lying, so I invite them in. They’re leggy and slender with sharp little noses, teacup breasts, straight hair and pearlescent skin. If they had been a touch more professional, paid some attention to detail, I might have believed them and said sorry, I can’t help you. But now I’m curious.
“What did you say your name was?” I direct my question to the blonde, who so far has done the talking. Behind them a cardinal whistles in the big autumnal maple in my yard, red against gold against a clean blue wash of sky, a beautiful sight that even so does nothing for me.
“I told you already, it’s Vanessa.” She tilts her chin up at the ‘V’ and hisses the double-‘S’ through bared teeth. If she eased off the attitude, lost the squint that looks like holding in tears, I might buy the toughness she’s trying to sell. I suppose in time she’ll either outgrow the act or perfect it, according to how life unfolds or unravels. It’s the sort of choice we all have to make, or if we’re lucky it gets made for us—we may dislike the outcome, but at least it’s unambiguous. I don’t really know what to want for these girls, other than as painless an enlightenment as possible. [. . . continue reading here.]
Leslie Blanco (fiction, ’07).
An essay by Leslie Blanco (fiction, ’07) appears in TransAtlantic Panorama:
Chronic Migraine Syndrome
After the floors of the towers came down one on top of the other, and people leapt out windows, and hearsay spread of heads all alone on the sidewalk, my own grief seemed unmentionable. Refugee syndrome. Car accident. Divorce. My little grief in my little life.
Overnight the ground – my ground – crumbled.
I was falling through clouds. I was falling too.
Searing pain. Blindness. Agoraphobia. Weeks and months lost underneath unwashed covers.
Now, it’s different. My body and I are uneasy friends, like girls in high school after a bout of screeching and hair pulling. My life has gone on safely, beautifully, but my body has to be cajoled now, bargained with. If I don’t drink red wine at dinner, can I stay up past ten? Drink the decaf coffee? Eat an avocado? A mango? She is a seismograph, measuring all things subterranean, the hidden significance of culture clash, and then, no warning, whiplashing me out of the jaws of dangers small, but not inconsequential. [… continue reading here.]