Announcing 21st Annual Arts & Letters Prize Winners

Announcing the Winners of the 2019 Arts & Letters Prizes in Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, & Poetry!

Winners receive $1000 and publication in the upcoming Fall 2019 issue of Arts & Letters

Arts & Letters Prize for Fiction:

Lones Seiber, “Flight”

Judge: Peter Nichols

“The narrator Katie’s quiet voice is clear and confiding. Her eye throughout is sharp for the small, almost subliminal details of character and especially landscape that turn a generic American place that might so easily go unnoticed, into Katie’s own sharply etched world. As she journeys back into this world, and into her own past, her deeply buried responses provoke the subtle, but finally overwhelming change that alters her life. It is this profound change that comes at the end of “Flight” that tipped me in its favor.”

Finalist: Kartika Budhwar, “Last Walk in Assam”

Susan Atefat Prize for Creative Nonfiction:

Carol Keeley, “Demon Feeding”

Judge: Pam Houston

“’Demon Feeding’ does at least three things really well at one time.  It raises our consciousness about PTSD among veterans and the personal hell our government’s decisions create in them; it has a compelling understory and a character we care about—the narrator—who is fighting demons of her own; and it braids those two really seamlessly, using plenty of sensory detail to keep us engaged and even giving us a moment of happiness amidst all the sad spoils of a difficult world.  It’s a beautifully made and important essay.”

Finalists: Gwen Ebert, “The Field”; Clinton Peters, “Love in the Valley of Death”; Daniel Rousseau, “Absent Joy”

Rumi Prize for Poetry:

Karen Harryman, “Theory”, “November”, and “Making”

Judge: GennaRose Nethercott

“These poems speak to the terrible banalities of violence, of life’s small, typical tasks that we carry on performing despite great sorrows. “Slicing a banana” at the breakfast table while learning of a night club massacre; selecting lemons at a grocery store before a shooting; combing through the hair of a childhood friend who will later fall prey to the drug epidemic. Brief, tender acts pressed against so many unthinkable sufferings. What is more horrifying than a violence so normalized that we no longer pause our daily motions in shock? And yet, what a strange loveliness, too, that our tenderness can survive alongside it, despite it all.”

Finalists: Samuel Hughes, Anushah Jiwani, Diane Louie, and John Sibley Williams

Many congratulations to all of our winners and finalists. 2020 Prize submissions will open in February. Look out for the announcement of the winner of the Drama Prize soon!

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