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Annual Literary Arts Contests wrap up season for Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends

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Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends member Bethanne Snodgrass announces winners during the Chautauqua Literary Arts Contests Reading Sunday on the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall porch. DAVE MUNCH / PHOTO EDITOR

Winners of Chautauqua’s annual Literary Arts Contests were revealed on Sunday on the porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall.

The event, which is sponsored by the Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends, is one of the final bits of programming for the organization in the season.

Bethanne Snodgrass, a member of the Friends, served as emcee for the event in place of Norma Rees, president of the Friends.

The contests are usually judged by past writers-in-residence from the Chautauqua Writers’ Center. This year’s judges were Ron MacLean and Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Both MacLean and Nezhukumatathil last taught at the Writers’ Center in 2016.

Snodgrass announced the winners and read MacLean and Nezhukumatathil’s comments on the winning pieces.

MacLean judged the prose categories, which had 22 entries. David Zinman won the first-place Charles McCorkle Hauser Prize in the prose category for his story “Something from the Heart.”

“I was struck, each time I read this, by its honesty and courage,” MacLean said in his written remarks. “Here’s a narrative that addresses the difficulty of finding the right thing to say before the moment is gone, and makes me feel that difficulty — one I know myself — while capturing the expression of those hard things in the writing itself. I was moved.”

Second place in the prose categories went to Peggy Kowalski for her story “Starry Deda,” and Keekee Minor and Barbara Jenkins received honorable mentions for their pieces “Russia on Five Dollars a Day” and “Apps Mill,” respectively.

For his flash fiction piece “Samantha,” Mo Saidi won the inaugural Rocker Flash Fiction Award.

Nezhukumatathil handled the poetry categories. There were 36 poems submitted by 17 poets this year.

Carol Newman won the first-place Mary Jean Irion Prize for her poem “Okeechobee Spring.”

In her written remarks, Nezhukumatathil said that Newman’s poem offered “an elegant and surprising cacophony of the senses.”

“Each line is pulled taut and evokes the outdoors in bursts of unexpected delights,” Nezhukumatathil said. “I adored how the poem is brought together with smells of the domestic world crashing into smells of the outdoors.”

Jane Pfefferkorn took second place for her poem “Lake Katherine,” which Nezhukumatathil described as “a gorgeous place-portrait.”

Both Newman and Pfefferkorn also received honorable mentions for their poems “Leaves on Water” and “Eight Degrees Freezing,” respectively. Christopher Nye also received an honorable mention for his poem “Wood Voice,” as did Barbara Jenkins for “Tea with Granny, 1972.”

While most of the winners were not present to accept their prizes and read their work, Pfefferkorn was. She read her poem “Lake Katherine” for the audience, wrapping up the event.

Tags : Bethanne SnodgrassChautauqua Literary Arts FriendsLiterary Arts Center at Alumni HallLiterary Arts Contests
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The author Ryan Pait

Ryan Pait gets a different haircut every summer to keep the people of Chautauqua guessing. This is his fourth summer at The Chautauquan Daily, so if you’re tired of him, that’s OK. He recently graduated with his master’s degree in literature from Western Kentucky University. Don’t ask him about what he’s doing after this summer, but do ask him about the Nicole Kidman renaissance, the return of “Game of Thrones” and what he’s reading.

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