2024 Contest

2024 Winner: “Possession” by Indy Smith

Indy Smith

“Possession” by Indy Smith, a senior at Cornell College, has been selected as the winning story in ACM’s 2024 Nick Adams Short Story Contest. In her comments on Smith’s story, final judge Sue Miller wrote:

“The assured first-person narrator of ‘Possession’ offers us the clear sense of a beloved place – its geography, its beauty, the community that lives there, and the role of the narrator and her family in that community – a world, in other words. Only slowly do we apprehend the tension for the narrator between the opposing pulls of her strong respect for the island’s traditions and her protective love for her daughter, whose very life is threatened by those traditions.”

Indy Smith, a senior at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, earned a $1,000 prize and high praise from the final judge for her short story, “Possession.” After learning of her win, she expressed gratitude to the Cornell College Department of English & Creative Writing.

“Cornell College’s English faculty has been life-changing in more ways than one,” Smith said. “Especially Rebecca Entel, Katy Stavreva, Katie Sagal, and Glenn Freeman, who breathe new life into the centuries-old practice of writing and reading and connecting with one another.My writing has developed as I have, and I feel the professors and their classes have made me a better person.”

Smith, who is from Treasure Island, Florida, is majoring in creative writing. She will graduate from Cornell College this spring and will attend the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University in the fall.

Learn more and meet the other finalists »

Final Judge: Sue Miller

Photo Credit: Adrienne Mathiowetz

Sue Miller is the author of 11 novels, most recently Monogamy (2020). O, The Oprah Magazine heralded the novel as “a revelatory tale of the complexities – and the absurdities – of love, infidelity, and grief.” In a review of The Arsonist, Miller’s 2014 novel, The New York Times Book Review highlighted the author’s “signature intelligence about people caught between moral responsibility and a hunger for self-realization.”

Miller’s debut novel, The Good Mother (1986), was lauded by Library Journal as “a stunner: so emotionally true and cleanly written, its characters so wonderfully and fallibly human, its issues so painful.” In 2003, Miller published her memoir, The Story of My Father. “With the care, restraint, and consummate skill that define her well-crafted and bestselling fiction,” the San Francisco Chronicle praised, “Sue Miller has now written a beautiful, compelling memoir about her father and his downward spiral into the demonic grasp of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Miller’s other works include the novels The Lake Shore Limited (2010), The Senator’s Wife (2008), The World Below (2001), While I Was Gone (1999), The Distinguished Guest (1995), For Love (1993), and Family Pictures (1990). Miller has also published Inventing the Abbotts and Other Stories (1987) and contributed short stories to periodicals including The AtlanticMademoiselle, and Ploughshares. Her books have been widely translated and published in 22 countries. The Good Mother (1986) and Inventing the Abbotts (1987) were both made into feature films; Family Pictures (1990) and While I Was Gone (1999) became television mini-series.

About the Nick Adams Short Story Contest

The Nick Adams Short Story Contest, now in its 52nd year, is open to students currently enrolled at ACM colleges. Students must submit their entries to the English department on their home campus. The contest was established in 1973 with funds from an anonymous donor to encourage fiction writing at ACM colleges. Named for the young hero of many Hemingway stories, the contest offers a prize of $1,000 for the best story by an ACM student.


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