Bonnie Jo Campbell, a nationally-acclaimed author of novels, short stories, and poetry, has agreed to serve as the final judge for the 2014 Nick Adams Short Story Contest. She will select the winning story, whose author will receive the contest’s $1,000 first prize.
Campbell is the author of two novels, Once Upon a River (2011) and Q Road (2003), two short story collections, American Salvage (2009) and Women & Other Animals (1999), and a book of poetry, Love Letters to Sons of Bitches (2010). She is also the co-editor of Our Working Lives: Short Stories of People and Work (2000).
Bonnie Jo Campbell
The annual Nick Adams Contest celebrates the creative impulse of student writers and is open to any student at an ACM college. Students submit entries to the contest through their campus English departments. A small committee of faculty selects six stories as finalists, from which a professional writer serving as final judge names the winner.
As a judge for the contest, Campbell joins a long list of illustrious authors who have selected Nick Adams winners, including Saul Bellow, Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Tyler, Larry Heinemann, Maya Angelou, Stuart Dybek, and Audrey Niffenegger.
Rural areas of Michigan serve as the setting for most of Campbell’s works. Once Upon a River follows the teenage main character’s adventure on the fictional Stark River in search of her mother. In a press release in Book Trade, Clare Smith of HarperCollins UK extolled Once Upon a River as “an extraordinary read which achieves that rare feat of matching lyrical writing with a narrative urgency and strength that demands the reader’s attention.”
American Salvage examines working class characters trying to survive in the 21st century. In a starred review in Booklist in 2009, Donna Seaman noted that American Salvage was a “story collection of rare impact” and “these fine-tuned stories are shaped by stealthy wit, stunning turns of events, and breath-taking insights.”
Campbell has received prestigious awards for her writing. In 2011, she was named a Guggenheim Fellow and used her fellowship term to do research for a new series of stories set in the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus – an organization she travelled with selling snow cones when she was 20 years old.
She won the ForeWord Reviews’ Book of the Year award for short stories in 2009 and was a finalist for both the National Book Award in fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction, all for American Salvage. In 2002, Q Road received an honorable mention for Barnes & Noble’s Great New Writers selections. Her short story The Smallest Man in the World won Campbell a Pushcart Prize in 2001, and she was recognized with the 1998 Associated Writing Programs Award for short fiction for Women & Other Animals.
Campbell’s fictional work has appeared in Midwestern Quarterly, The Southern Review, the Kenyon Review, and Diagram magazine. In addition to her works of fiction, she has written works of nonfiction for Blue Mesa Review, Heartlands Today, Utne Reader, and the Ontario Review. Her poems and plays have been published in The Southern Review, Midwest Review, and Tusculum Review.
A Michigan native, Campbell received an undergraduate degree in philosophy from the University of Chicago and three degrees from Western Michigan University: a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education, a Master’s degree in mathematics, and an MFA in writing. She teaches fiction in the low-residency MFA program at Pacific University in Oregon. Campbell lives near Kalamazoo, Michigan, with her husband.
Named after the young protagonist of many of Ernest Hemingway’s stories, the Nick Adams Short Story Contest was established in 1973 with funds for the $1,000 prize provided by an anonymous donor. The results of the 2014 competition will be announced in mid-March.