Writer Sandra Cisneros will select the prize-winning story in the 2021 Nick Adams Short Story Contest.
The annual competition, now in its forty-ninth year, is open to students at the 14 member colleges of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) and awards a prize of $1,000 for the winning story. Students can enter the contest by submitting their short stories to their campus English department. A small committee of ACM faculty will select the finalists; Cisneros will select the winning story in March.
“We are delighted to have Sandra Cisneros, a Chicagoan educated in the Midwest, serve as the final judge of the ACM’s Nick Adams Short Story Contest, particularly at a time when so many of us are rigorously engaging with topics of culture and identity that she explores in her work,” said Sonya Malunda, President of the ACM. “The Associated Colleges of the Midwest aims to provide distinctive opportunities that would be harder for students at our campuses to access on their own, so it is a thrill to welcome an artist of Cisneros’ stature and achievement to read and evaluate their creative writing.”
Sandra Cisneros is a poet, short story writer, novelist, essayist, performer, and artist whose work explores such themes as Chicana identity, cultural hybridity, and social position. Born in Chicago, Cisneros earned a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago and a master’s degree from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. Her time living in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago served as inspiration for her classic, coming-of-age novel The House on Mango Street (1984), which has sold more than six million copies.
“The Associated Colleges of the Midwest aims to provide distinctive opportunities that would be harder for students at our campuses to access on their own, so it is a thrill to welcome an artist of Cisneros’ stature and achievement to read and evaluate their creative writing.”
Sonya Malunda, President of the ACM
Author Bebe Moore Campbell wrote in The New York Times Book Review, “Cisneros draws on her rich [Latino] heritage . . . and seduces with precise, spare prose, creat[ing] unforgettable characters we want to lift off the page. She is not only a gifted writer, but an absolutely essential one.”
Other works by Cisneros include a chapbook of poetry, Bad Boys (1980); two full-length poetry books, My Wicked Wicked Ways (1987) and Loose Woman (1994); a collection of stories, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories (1991); a children’s book, Hairs/Pelitos (1994); the novel Caramelo (2002); a picture book, Have You Seen Marie? (2012); a collection of personal essays, A House of My Own: Stories from My Life (2015); and Puro Amor (2018), a bilingual chapbook featuring several illustrations of her own.
Cisneros has received the Texas Medal of the Arts (2003), Chicago’s Fifth Star Award (2015), the PEN Center USA Literary Award (2016), the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature (2019), and the National Medal of the Arts award presented to her by President Obama in 2016. She has also been awarded National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) fellowships (1981, 1988), a MacArthur Fellowship (1995), and several honorary doctorates. In 2018, The Guardian recognized Cisneros as one of 200 people who best embody the spirit and work of Frederick Douglass.
Cisneros has held roles as a teacher, counselor, college recruiter, arts administrator, and writer-in-residence. She founded two non-profit organizations, the Macondo Foundation and the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation, to support budding writers. She also organized Los MacArturos, a caucus of Latinx MacArthur Fellows united in community activism.
The Nick Adams Short Story Contest, named after the young protagonist of many stories by Ernest Hemingway, was established with funds from an anonymous donor to encourage fiction writing at ACM colleges. Past final judges have included such esteemed writers as Maya Angelou, John Updike, Audrey Niffenegger, Larry Heinemann, Bharati Mukherjee, Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Tyler, Stuart Dybek, and Scott Turow.