We are thrilled to announce the winners of our 2011 contest. In fiction, the winner is John Van Kirk's "Landscape with Boys," about a neighborhood civil war. Fiction judge Allan Gurganus called it "a muscular, comic, ambitious, and very pure piece of writing."
For fiction runner-up, Gurganus chose Suzanne Scanlon's "Her 37th Year, An Index," a story told in alphabetized topic headings, describing it as "a thoroughly engrossing almanac of desire."
Patricia Hampl, nonfiction judge, said her choice for winner, "Life Care Center" by Helen Phillips, "manages its desperate material"—a visit to a severely disabled sister—"without indulgence."
The nonfiction runner-up, "City by the Woods: A Memoir" by Maria Rapoport, was, Hampl writes, "a real consideration of the lingering effects of emigration."
Poetry judge Claudia Rankine selected a portfolio of six poems by Emily Van Kley to be winner and ten poems by Kimberly Burwick as runner-up.
A quote from "After Winter" by Emily Van Kley:
when we think we have borne
everything we walk to the park to watch
salmon batter upstream, their lips
spoiling over spiked underbites,
shanks ruby-bright with decay.
And a sample from Kimberly Burwick's "The Therapists Say to Admit the Nature of You":
Prairie is punishment for your failings
but there is a certain kind of crime
that takes the matgrass months to know.
Every sentence is really a question of harvests.
A million thanks to our judges and to everyone who entered. We were pleased to have had an especially strong group of entries this year. Look for the work of the contest winners and runners-up in our December 2011 issue. Rules for our 2012 contest will be online shortly. And see a list of the past five years of winners here.