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What Last Year’s Winners Have to Say about the Crazyhorse Prizes…

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Every year, writers at all stages of their careers submit their work to the Crazyhorse Prizes in fiction, nonfiction, & poetry. And a panel of judges (for 2016, it’s Joan Silber for fiction, Brenda Miller for nonfiction, and Khaled Mattawa for poetry) select a winner in each genre to receive a prize of $2,000 and publication in Crazyhorse. We thought it might be interesting to roll back the clock and ask last year’s winners why they submitted their work for the Crazyhorse prizes in the first place.

Shubha Sunder, who’s short story, “Jungleman,” was selected by Adam Johnson for the 2015 Crazyhorse Fiction Prize, says, “I’ve been submitting to Crazyhorse for years. It has always been one of my favorite literary journals; the stories I read in it are eclectic, quirky, and relevant. The contest happened to come at a time when I had this piece completed. While I’m thrilled that Adam Johnson chose ‘Jungleman’ as the winner, I’m even more thrilled that this story has found a home in Crazyhorse.” She says that the story was inspired by a trip she made to the Bandipur National Park in South India as a teenager. “I was part of a team of students recruited to conduct a small-scale wildlife census,” she writes. “We were led by tribesmen on deserted tracks through the forest. One of the scientists I met on this trip looked like a jungle man—bushy beard, wild hair, light on his feet, and very passionate about his work. Later that same year he took his wife on an expedition that resulted in her contracting cerebral malaria and dying. I never met him again and have often wondered how his wife’s death affected his relationship with the forest.”

Sara Henning, winner of the 2015 Lynda Hull Memorial Prize, cites her love of the Prize’s namesake and judge Alberto Ríos as motivations to submit her poems to the contest. “My love and awe of Hull’s work is a driving force behind why I chose to submit to the Lynda Hull Memorial Poetry Prize,” she told us, “but it is also the work of Alberto Ríos that drew me, the way his poems penetrate in dazzling lyrical investigations the notions of memory, heritage, and the liminal sphere of the self forged among these boundaries. My poem that won the prize, ‘How I Learned I Had the Shine,’ honors both Ríos’ and Hull’s precedents to turn memory and the legacies of the self into lyrical study. My poetry has often trended toward the examination of issues crucial to feminine identity, including class, violence, and shame in ways that challenge the genre of neo-confessional trauma writing.”

Terrance Manning Jr.’s essay “Leave Them Hurtin’ When You Leave,” winner of the 2015 Crazyhorse Nonfiction Prize, is piece written through a lens of honesty. He says there was “No pumping it up. No bells and whistles. Just a story of a summer.” Manning continues, “From that, I found I was writing into discovery, attempting to answer questions about myself and my parents, somehow, through the examination of this experience, which manifested in the moments of reflection in the piece.” Manning had been waiting for the right time to submit his piece when he received an email suggesting the Crazyhorse Prizes, and similar to Henning, Manning was excited to see a familiar name as a judge in the contest. He says, about Crazyhorse, “I’ve read some of my favorite writers in its pages: Marianne Boruch, Rebecca Makai, and yes, Dinty Moore, who happened to be judging the 2015 nonfiction contest! I only hoped for the possibility to have him, this wonderful writer that I admire, reading my work.”

These writers submitted their work to Crazyhorse for a variety of reasons: admiration of our judges, a well timed call for submissions, or simply the hope of finding a home for their work within our pages. We appreciate them sharing their talent with us and giving Crazyhorse the opportunity to publish their work. We hope that others will do the same. We will be accepting submissions for the 2016 Crazyhorse Prizes during the month of January. For more information, click here.