Martindale Literary Prize for Short Fiction


Remember that short story contest I mentioned a little while back? Well, somehow---I won! For a short story I first wrote in 2007, called "Wet Season."

I still can't quite believe it. My first writing prize! And the first time I've actually made money through my writing. I totally got all teary and shaky when they called me up to the little podium last night, even though I'd promised myself that I wouldn't.

They made the announcement at the opening reception for the 2009 Pima Writer's Workshop. A reading by Peter Turchi, (the judge for 2009 and a faculty member at the workshop), was the main event.

Linda Lyons won second runner-up for her story "Footsteps." Tom Printsner (sp?) won first runner-up for his story "Leonard and Martha," but unfortunately he was out of town.

Peter Turchi was nice enough to sign my copy of his short story collection, Magician, even though I was all mumbly and nervous.

Meg Files was super-sweet, and she signed my copy of her craft book, Write from Life. (Laura Van Etten, my workshop instructor from this past semester, gave that to me as a going-away-to-Minneapolis present! If you're ever looking for a writing class in Tucson, check out one of Laura's, it was great. And she recommends Meg Files' class highly. Judging by this book, I absolutely agree, and I'm sorry I never had the chance.)

Nancy Wall gave me the call to tell me, last Tuesday. She was really nice. I cried. She made me promise not to tell anyone until after the announcement---it was so hard to keep my mouth shut!

Nancy Wall, reading Peter Turchi's comments about "Wet Season." Meg Files, taking a picture.
(PLEASE disregard my terrifyingly bad posture, eesh.)


Peter Turchi was the judge for 2009. Here he is reading his work. (Pardon the craptastic photo quality.)

Linda Lyons getting her certificate from Nancy Wall

Meg Files, Chair of the Pima English Dept. and Pima Writer's Workshop founder

It's called the Martindale Literary Prize. It's an annual prize for short fiction, it began in 1988. The rules are that you can only submit one unpublished story, you can't have won before or be Pima faculty, the story has to be between 5,000 and 10,000 words AND you have to be taking at least one class at Pima Community College---so the applicant pool is pretty much limited to people in Tucson.

And the award is $1000! I'm still hyperventilating. I can't even explain how much this will help with my move to Minnesota. Things have been looking really grim on my financial front, lately.

As much as the money saves the day for me, this really does mean even more to me on an emotional and professional level. I feel SO grateful and so lucky. I hope this post doesn't come off as braggy, because that's not what I want. I'm just really happy---the MFA, and now this? It's like the world is telling me: Go ahead, do this. I've got your back. (And I go: Well, I was going to go for it anyway, but this really helps!)

The prize is a bit obscure, I have to admit. You'll have trouble finding information about it on the internet---apparently they don't have a website set up for it. (I'm tempted to ask them if they'd like me to make one for them! But I know that's crazy talk.)

So please forgive me---I'm going to indulge myself a bit here, and tell you everything you'll ever never want to know about the Martindale Literary Prize.

I'm warning you ahead of time. I'm going to blab and blab, so feel free to skip this. Okay? Okay.


Kaleidoscope, published by Pima Press in 2007.
Kaleidoscope is an anthology of nineteen winning stories from a yearly contest at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona.

The competition, sponsored by the Martindale Educational Foundation, awards an annual prize of $1000. As Mr. Robert C. Martindale explained in 1987 at the first meeting to discuss this competition, his foundation was offering a substantial award, and he therefore expected substantial stories.

The judge for each year's competition is a well-known fiction writer, and all of the judges have commented on the unusually high quality of the work submitted. Several of the authors appearing in Kaleidoscope have had short story collections or novels published, while the work of others has appeared in serious literary journals, some publications containing the stories from this anthology.

Hey, wanna know who won the Martindale in 2000? Tayari Jones! Remember when I read Leaving Atlanta and loved it? She did her MFA at ASU, and she's fiction faculty at Rutgers-Newark now. The Untelling is on my list of must-read-soons.

Here's the flier that started this whole thing:


Wanna know what's funny? Peter Turchi and Charles Baxter (faculty at Minnesota) edited a book on craft together! It's called Bringing the Devil to His Knees: The Craft of Fiction and the Writing Life. Turchi was the director of the Warren Wilson MFA program from 1993-2008, and Baxter still teaches there, I think.

In case you're thinking, Hey, that sounds fishy!, let me assure you that this is just a wonderful cosmic coincidence. Check out the flier: They didn't say who the judge would be, and Turchi never saw my name. Even if he had, I can promise you that at this point I've said about seven words to Charles Baxter, (Hello, it's so good to meet you), and he has no idea what I'm doing with my insignificant little summer, or what kinds of longs shots I'm shooting for. Turchi did his MFA at the University of Arizona, so really it's not so strange that he's here to do the Workshop. But I just love unexpected connections like this.

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What about the story? "Wet Season" was part of my MFA application portfolio. I wrote it for a summer fiction workshop taught by the excellent Rachel Yoder. At the time she was an MFA student at the University of Arizona. It was my first creative writing workshop, and she was just such a really engaging, dedicated, supportive teacher. Please, please go check out NewPage's review of Alligator Juniper, Prescott College's literary journal---she edited this issue!

I've revised the story a few times already, and I plan to keep working on it. After taking Laura Van Etten's awesome short fiction workshop this past semester, I realize that what I probably need to do is go back and cut, cut, cut. She has this way of saying things that really made stuff make sense to me in all kinds of new, sparking and/or comforting ways.

If you check out my earlier post, you'll see that I submitted this story to a few other contests/journals, and struck out. I guess it goes to show---just keep trying! You never know.

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While I'm at it, I'd like to thank:

(Well, my family, of course, and S. But those are givens! Always.)

Rachel Yoder, Emily Lundin, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Manuel Muñoz, Laura Van Etten, Carlos Gallego, Tenney Nathanson, Judy Blunt, Terry Woronov, Praise Zenenga, Bridget Radcliff, Wendy Burk, Susan White, Ilham Khuri-Makdisi & Ron Grant. Thanks for being such inspirational (& dedicated!) writers, teachers and advisors. Your classes & workshops/story-essay-poem comments/advice, guidance & encouragment/recommendation letters/help ETC! have made such a huge huge difference in my life. Many of you probably have no idea what a big impact you've had on me---I really ought to do something about that.

There are SO many more wonderful teachers I'd like to mention here, but it would take miles...I hope you know who you are.

Not that most of these folks are likely to see this : )

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Phew! It's ridiculous how long I've rambled on. Goodnight, world!

6 comments:

Eric said...

Congratulations! Thats such wonderful news, and well deserved.

Karla said...

Congratulations! I can't wait to read it.

found said...

Thanks so much, you two! I'm sending you lots of writerly love and happiness : )

Ms. Sushi said...

So awesome! Congrats again!

CashewElliott said...

Congratulations on this. I won a little contest, my only one ever, a few months ago, and still feel happy about it. I sort of understand how you feel. Yours is a bigger deal. 1000 bucks is a solid prize.

found said...

Thanks, S! Congrats to YOU now!!! ♥


Thanks, Cashew, and congratulations! And no way about the bigger deal thing, an honor is an honor, a win is a win, plain and simple. You should let yourself revel in it a bit! I feel embarrassed to have gone on about it at such length, but I figure the first time is special. Thanks for saying you understand how I feel, knowing I'm not the only one makes me feel a little bit less crazy :) Congrats again!

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