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Nick Adams Short Story Contest

Ernest HemingwayEach year in the spring, ACM sponsors the Nick Adams Short Story Contest. The contest, named for the young protagonist of many Hemingway stories, was established in 1973 with funds from an anonymous donor to encourage fiction writers at ACM colleges. A first prize of $1,000 is awarded to the author of the winning story.

Any student currently enrolled with good academic standing at an ACM college is eligible to enter the Nick Adams Contest and may submit up to two stories to their English department. The story need not have been written especially for the competition, but it cannot have been previously published off-campus. Each department selects the four best stories to enter in the competition, which is coordinated by the ACM office.

A small committee of faculty drawn from ACM colleges selects the finalists. A prominent writer serves as the  contest's final judge each year and selects the winning story from among the finalists.

Nick Adams Contest final judges in past years have included such literary luminaries as Jane Smiley, Saul Bellow, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, Anne Tyler, Maya Angelou, Barbara Kingsolver, Jane Hamilton, and Stuart Dybek. See the complete list of final judges.

Nick Adams Contest final judges in recent years

Bonnie Jo Campbell

Bonnie Jo Campbell - 2014

Peter Geye

2013 - Peter Geye

Gina Frangello

2012 - Gina Frangello

Binnie Kirshenbaum

2011 - Binnie Kirshenbaum

Alex Kotlowitz

2010 - Alex Kotlowitz

2015 Nick Adams Contest

Evelyn Coffin from Knox College Named 2015 Winner for "Proudly, Unburied"

Evelyn Coffin, a sophomore at Knox College, received the $1,000 first prize as winner of the 43rd annual Nick Adams Short Story Contest.

Evelyn Coffin

Evelyn Coffin

Her story "Proudly, Unburied" was selected by final judge Maureen McCoy from among 38 stories submitted by students from ACM colleges.

Scott Carpenter, Professor of French and Director of Cross Cultural Studies at Carleton College, and Gordon Marino, Professor of Philosophy at St. Olaf College, served as initial faculty readers for the contest, choosing six finalists from which McCoy decided on the winner.

Read the 2015 winning story!

Proudly, Unburied

By Evelyn Coffin

Knox College

In commenting on Coffin's story, McCoy wrote:

"'Proudly, Unburied' is a powerful story evoking childhood wonder, trauma and, finally, fragile dreams of future. The story seems to proceed unhurriedly, riding on rhythmic language that defines its own music through vivid imagery and character insight. All the writing mastery here is in service to character; character is at the heart of the story, and at the heart here is a young girl of particular experience and vivid observation who is growing into the world."

Isabel Taylor

Isabel Taylor

McCoy also gave Honorable Mention recognition to Isabel Taylor from Beloit College for "Mothers," noting that Taylor's story "presents a deeply felt, yet unsentimental portrait of a character, Gina, in present circumstances on which the past bears significantly."

The four other finalist stories in the 2015 Contest were:

  • "Birdy" by Laura Freymiller, Carleton College;
  • "Youth" by Maya Furukawa, Beloit College;
  • "Orange Starbursts" by Joshua Pitkofsky, Carleton College; and
  • "The Transaction" by Rachel Rostad, Macalester College.

Read more about the 2015 Nick Adams Contest

Maureen McCoy

Maureen McCoy

Final Judge Maureen McCoy

Maureen McCoy, emeritus professor of English and creative writing at Cornell University, is author of the novels Junebug (2004), Divining Blood (1992), Summertime (1987), and Walking After Midnight (1985).

She also has written short fiction, personal essays, and monologues for actors. McCoy's essay, "Vickie's Pour House: A Soldier's Peace," published in the Antioch Review, was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in 2009.

Read more about Maureen McCoy

More information about the Contest