Each year we ask an established artist in his or her field to select the recipient of our Editor’s Prize in Fiction and Poetry. The field is limited to work published in Fifth Wednesday Journal. The author of the selected work receives a modest monetary award. The winners this year were chosen from work published in the fall 2015 and spring 2016 issues.
Our judge for poetry is Joan Murray, a poet and writer whose five books include Swimming for the Ark: New & Selected Poems 1990-2015 (White Pine Press’s Distinguished Poets Series), Looking for the Parade (W. W. Norton), and Queen of the Mist, for which she received a Broadway Commission (Beacon Press). Her work has also appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, The Nation, The New York Times, The Paris Review, and The Best American Poetry. She is a two-time National Endowment Fellowship winner, a two-time Pushcart Prize winner, a repeat guest on NPR’s Morning Edition, and a former Writer-in-Residence at the New York State Writers Institute.
She chose “Over time other miracles occurred, but these were the most important ones” by Tony Trigilio (FWJ fall 2015). Ms Murray wrote: “What appeals to me most about Tony Trigilio’s poem is the playful tension between the day-to-day and the miraculous. Beginning with the title, the poem adopts a revelatory tone as it glimpses the origins of simple twentieth-century wonders. It’s the kind of poem where we might be tempted to feel superior to its folksy subjects until Trigilio puts us among them with eyes wide open.
Trigilio starts off humming how “ordinary” it is for “ordinary people” to go driving with sandwiches on a holiday. What he’s actually doing is creating a false security — for suddenly we’re remembering World War II when car lights have to be covered and people scan the sky for bombers. Soon we’re witnessing the eerie installation of an early light bulb in a home, and listening to faint voices coming from a wall via a sprawling homemade radio set. As we struggle to hear, a scientist warns that if cars ever go sixty, everyone in them will be crushed by gravity. This is no ordinary holiday drive. With the sharp turns of his shifting associations, Trigilio takes us for a ride that’s jittery, humorous, and wondrous.”
Tony Trigilio’s most recent collection of poetry is Inside the Walls of My Own House: The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood), Book 2 (BlazeVOX [books], 2016). He is the editor of the chapbook Dispatches from the Body Politic: Interviews with Jan Beatty, Meg Day, and Douglas Kearney (Essay Press, 2016), a collection of interviews from his poetry podcast Radio Free Albion. He teaches poetry at Columbia College Chicago.
Photo courtesy Kevin Nance
Ms Murray selected a pair of runners-up: “The White Angel” by Stephanie Dickinson (FWJ spring 2016) and “Magnolia Tree (Unfinished)” by Emmanuel Flores (FWJ fall 2015).
“Dickinson’s poem is one of several imagined diary entries “by” early twentieth-century Austrian poet, Georg Trakl. What stands out here is the rich language — sometimes gorgeous, sometimes horrifying — as the broken Trakl mixes potions at the White Angel Apothecary and (in a tour de force of synesthesia) talks to his absent sister about music.” Stephanie Dickinson, an Iowa native, lives in New York City. Her work appears in Hotel Amerika, Mudfish, Weber Studies, Water-Stone Review, Gargoyle, Stone Canoe, Westerly, and New Stories from the South.
“Flores’s poem is a deceptively sophisticated love-and-regret message for a distant mother. In its essence, it’s a shorthand list of a son’s procrastinations focused on a jigsaw puzzle the two began but never completed. The poem is honest, restrained, and moving — as the missing and fallen pieces turn up amid the son’s absences and guilt.” Emmanuel Flores is currently an undergraduate student at Salisbury University and is the Editor in Chief of the school’s Scarab Literary Magazine. He has had one other poem published in Cider Press Review.
Our judge for fiction is James McManus, whose books include The Education of a Poker Player; Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker; Physical; Positively Fifth Street; Going to the Sun; Great America; Ghost Waves; Chin Music; Curtains; and Out of the Blue. His work has appeared in The Believer; The New Yorker; Foreign Policy; Harper’s; Esquire; New York Times; Atlantic Monthly; Paris Review; The Best American Poetry; New Directions in Prose and Poetry; Irish American Poetry; Best American Sports Writing; and Best Erotic Writing in Modern Fiction. His awards include the Peter Lisagor Award for Sports Journalism; Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residency; Society of Midland Authors Award; Carl Sandburg Prize; Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry; and NEA fellowships in poetry and prose.
He chose “La Guagua” by Lydia Martin (FWJ spring 2016).
Mr. McManus wrote: “I love how a simple bus ride around Miami in Lydia Martin’s “La Guagua” becomes a tale of two cities and one long troubled marriage, as an abusive macho husband comes to terms with his beautiful wife moving out into the world. Martin’s peppery blend of English and Spanish seems as perfect as a slender cubano robusto. A classic.”
Lydia Martin is a journalist who has covered Miami’s cultural evolution for three decades. Her “Lunch with Lydia” column is a longtime fixture in The Miami Herald. Her writing has appeared in the books Presenting Celia Cruz (Clarkson Potter) and Louis Vuitton City Guide, Miami; and in magazines such as Esquire, InSTyle, Oprah, Latina, and Out. She is a recent graduate of Bennington College’s creative writing MFA program.
Mr McManus also selected a runner-up: “Anniversary” by Stephen Dixon (FWJ fall 2015).
Stephen Dixon’s thirtieth book of fiction, His Wife Leaves Him, was published by Fantagraphics Books in September 2013. Fantagraphics Books also brought out in soft cover a three-volume story collection, What is All This? in June 2012 and published his novel Letter to Kevin in January 2016. Publishing Genius Books published his novella Beatrice in March of this year. “The Vestry” (FWJ fall 2013) and “Intermezzo” (FWJ fall 2014) are part of his interlinked story collection, Late Stories, which Curbside Splendor Publishing will bring out under the Trnsfr Books Imprint in September 2016. “So Happy” (FWJ fall 2016) and “Anniversary” (FWJ fall 2015) will appear in his latest collection, Dear Abigail and Other Stories, to be published by Curbside Splendor/Trnsfr Books in 2017. He has lived in Ruxton, Maryland, for the last twenty years. He retired from teaching in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University in 2007.