The MFA Program Announces Foundation Awards

Dec. 19, 2018

The Minnie Torrance Award for Poetry

Judged by giovanni singleton

Winner: “The Almanac of Free Things” by Gabriel Palacios

In THE SPANISH TRAIL MOTEL, a physical structure where one retreats “just to feel/Unrained on”, also serves as an important mirror. It also performs a necessary refuge and enlarges an understanding of place and personhood through simple yet armored language. Herein “dumpster” becomes a gesture toward wholeness. We are left to contemplate self-possession and surrender as well as the emotional currents of past and present.

Runner-up: “Untitled packet” by Kou Sugita

The poems in this collection move at the pace of a life of inquiry and meaning. “Ah” and “thisness” point to how might it be possible to bear the cost of standing still. There is a palpable heat between freedom and restraint. Whether couplet or quatrain, the lines of these poems draw us in close only to lead us into a kind of “not wanting”. The journey is worth it.

Gabriel will receive $1000, and Kou will receive $500.

The Bill Waller Award for Nonfiction

Judged by Lia Purpura

Winner: Hannah Hindley, "Heat Map"

Heat Map: Science and the mysteries, the measurables and the ineffables, the learned and the felt are pulled together and arranged (the author’s own wise assessment of her methods there, in those verbs!) in this gorgeous piece, a musculature built of personal bravery and a sense of oneness with the natural world. A lyrical sensibility married to the precisions of scientific exploration—a profound combination of ways-of-being, thinking/feeling, and forging kinship with the wider world. —Lia Purpura

Runner-up: Emilio Carrero, “The Season of When We Were Children”

Moving tactilely and visually through chosen, charged moments of late childhood (and indeed this would make a beautiful short film)—this piece is a powerful exploration of the organism that is a group and of the consciousness of a single individual within that group as it peels away and mourns the necessary dissolution of friendships. Beautifully tense sentences and a terrific sense of suspense, heightened by careful, close observations. —Lia Purpura

Hannah will receive $1000, and Emilio will receive $500.

John Weston Award for Fiction

Judged by Venita Blackburn

Winner: Katerina Ivanov, “Galilee, if you Squint”

Runner-up: Kimberly Bussing, “Girlhood”

All of the entries possessed a variety of charm and daring, but the top two gathered the core parts of good narrative that I look for: structure, voice, and the uncaged audacity of powerful characterization. “Galilee, if you Squint” has an awareness of unique cultural significance and presents feminine identity as an imposition through a character that lifts out of the ink to shake the boundaries of her own world, making it truly outstanding. Much of “Girlhood” peruses dangerous territory and is delightfully anxious in its proceedings always maintaining a slightly malicious yet honest eye on womanhood. They were both exceptional reads. —Venita Blackburn

Katerina will receive $1000, and Kimberly will receive $500.