Evelyn Coffin, a sophomore at Knox College, will received the $1,000 first prize as winner of the 2015 ACM Nick Adams Short Story Contest.
Her story “Proudly, Unburied” was selected from among 38 stories submitted by students from ACM colleges. Maureen McCoy, an author of four novels and emeritus professor of English and of the graduate program in creative writing at Cornell University, served as the final judge for the contest this year.
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.
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.”
Read the 2015 winning story!
By Evelyn Coffin
Coffin said she plans to declare a creative writing major this spring at Knox and spend next winter in Ireland participating in a Dublin Writer’s Program. After graduation in 2017, she is interested in continuing her education in writing and editing work. Noting that she’s always been a listener and an observer as well as a voracious reader, Coffin said she is “particularly drawn to the connections between place, history, and memory,” in her own work and in the work of others.
On April 10, Coffin will be recognized for her contest-winning story during the 7th Annual ACM Student Symposium on Off-Campus Study in Chicago.
McCoy also gave Honorable Mention recognition to Isabel Taylor from Beloit College for her story “Mothers,” writing that:
“‘Mothers’ presents a deeply felt, yet unsentimental portrait of a character, Gina, in present circumstances on which the past bears significantly. Through nimble prose, concise believable dialogue, well-chosen details of the world around and in memories related, we get a fully fleshed-out main character whose middle-aged wisdom, compassion and love are amplified throughout the story with strategically placed details of her youth. Her past bears on the potentially life-changing situation of her teenage son and his girlfriend.”
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.
Author of the novels Junebug (2004), Divining Blood (1992), Summertime (1987), and Walking After Midnight (1985), McCoy also has written short fiction, personal essays, and monologues for actors. Her essay, “Vickie’s Pour House: A Soldier’s Peace,” published in the Antioch Review, was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in 2009.
The Nick Adams Short Story Contest, held annually since 1973, was made possible through a generous gift from an anonymous donor. Each year, a prominent author serves as final judge for the contest. The list of final judges through the years includes Audrey Niffenegger, Larry Heineman, Sara Paretsky, Stuart Dybek, Maya Angelou, John Updike, and many others.