Author and educator Audrey Petty will serve as final judge for the 47th annual Nick Adams Short Story Contest.
The winner will be awarded $1,000 cash prize. Students can enter the Nick Adams contest by submitting their short stories to the English department on their campus. A faculty committee will choose the finalists and Petty will select the winning story.
Petty is a writer and educator from the South Side of Chicago. She is a 1990 graduate of Knox College, with a BA in French and concentration in American history.
During her time at Knox, Petty says she was able to really “take herself seriously as a thinker—not only as a writer, as a creative person, but as a thinker.” She had the opportunity to spend a semester abroad in Besançon, France. In an interview with Knox College, Petty described her experience abroad as the “biggest decision” of her life at that point. “It gave me a different sense of who I was as an African-American, as an American. It gave me a different appreciation of language, of literature.” This opportunity ultimately shaped her career as a writer. Since, her stories have been published in Gumbo: An Anthology of African American Writing, Story Quarterly, The Massachusetts Review, among others.
Petty has been awarded a residency at the Hedgebrook Colony, the Richard Soref Scholarship from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Tennesse Williams Fellowship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and she’s been the recipient of fellowships and grants from the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council and the Hewlett Foundation.
One of Petty’s most recent works, High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing, takes firsthand accounts of 12 former residents of now-demolished Chicago Housing Authority high-rises. For nearly three years, Petty interviewed both men and women who lived in public housing across the city– ABLA Homes, Cabrini-Green, Robert Taylor Homes, among others. Their stories recount profound hardships, neighborhood disinvestment and displacement, but they also resound themes of community and hope.
In a Chicago Reader review, Janet Potter writes, “High Rise Stories is informative and moving, empathetic and educational. While most of the CHA developments are gone, their influence on the demographics of Chicago life is not. As Paula Hawkins, who grew up in Cabrini-Green in the 60s and 70s, says, ‘The thing is: we the landmarks. Forget a building! People are the landmarks.’”
Audrey Petty has taught extensively in the fields of African-American literature and creative writing. She has taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Knox College as well as instructed at the Education Justice Project, Project FYSH (Foster Youth Seen and Heard), the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Northwestern. Currently, Petty directs the Odyssey Project, a free 32-week, college credit earning humanities program for income-eligible adults with limited or no access to higher education. She also teaches at the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project, a visual arts and humanities project that connects teaching artists and scholars to men at Stateville Maximum Security Prison through classes, workshops, and guest lectures.