Knox College student Myra Thompson has been named the winner of the 36th annual ACM Nick Adams Short Story Contest. Thompson's story, "Recollection," was chosen from 44 entries submitted by students at 14 member schools in the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM).
Thompson is a senior from Elgin, Illinois, majoring in creative writing and Russian. She also recently received a Fulbright Fellowship for study and writing in Russia next year.
Thompson's story was one of six finalists selected by a committee of faculty from ACM colleges. The finalists were then judged by acclaimed short story author Stuart Dybek, recent winner of a MacArthur "Genius Award" Fellowship. The contest is named after a protagonist in several of Ernest Hemingway's stories. The $1,000 cash prize to the winner is endowed by a gift to the ACM from an anonymous donor.
"'Recollection' is a mature, deeply imagined, convincingly realized story," Dybek wrote in a news release from the ACM. "Its credibility comes not only from the writer's exemplary sense of detail about life in Russia, but also from an equally exemplary empathetic rendering of the lives of its characters -- their psychology, their ethnicity, their class, and their sense of mortality. The allied themes of aging and memory are powerfully conveyed."
The full text of Thompson's story is on the ACM web site.
"All the creative writing faculty at Knox have been outstanding -- mentoring me and working with me on stories," Thompson said. "The visiting writers who have spoken at Knox and the student Writers' Forums have also been helpful. Seeing people develop and succeed at their writing is always encouraging."
"I can't remember a time when I wasn't interested in writing," Thompson said. "My parents read a lot to me, so I grew up on good stories."
That exposure to literature -- written and spoken -- continued through high school. At Larkin High School in Elgin, Illinois, she enrolled in a visual arts program that involved extensive work in the studio. "A lot of time when I was painting, I was listening to audio books," she said.
Thompson's winning story was set in Russia, where she studied in an off-campus program. She plans to continue writing in and about Russia next year, under the Fulbright Fellowship, one of the most prestigious post-graduate scholarships awarded to graduating college seniors. After completing the fellowship, Thompson is considering graduate study in writing or translation.
Since the Nick Adams competition began in 1973, 37 Knox students have been named finalists -- more than twice the number from its nearest competitor among ACM colleges. In addition, nine Knox students have won first place in the competition -- 50-percent more than the nearest competitor in the standings.
"Knox undergraduate writers often receive distinguished fellowships from top graduate writing programs," said Robin Metz, Philip Sidney Post Professor of English and director of the Creative Writing Program. "These have included the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop, Brown University, Stanford University, New York University, and Indiana University." In addition, several Knox alumni have written successful plays and books, including winners of the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, while others have become editors at such publishing houses as Doubleday; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Simon and Schuster; Oxford University Press; and various American university presses.
On the Net:
"Recollection," by Myra Thompson http://www.acm.edu/nickadams/08story1.html
Moreabout the Nick Adams Award http://www.acm.edu/nickadams/
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(Story and photo submitted by Knox College)