Each year, Marylhurst University connects with community colleges in Oregon and SW Washington, encouraging participation in our Writing Contest. We’re pleased to announce the 2017 winners, with commentary provided by Jay Ponteri, director of Marylhurst’s M.F.A. in Creative Writing program.
“One Man” by Tyler Sullivan, Portland Community College
Tyler Sullivan’s story “One Man” accumulates in meaning through fragments. Brief snapshots describe the narrator and secondary characters encountering the body in decline, death, grief from loss, and ordinariness, and the narrator seems to shrink amidst all of this: “Outside of the window, all you can see is a streetlight. Its orange-white hue against the rich black sky. It’s not very bright – it looks old – plastic cover thick with grime. It’s really all you can see – the light, and a few feet of the pole and wires attached to it. After a few feet, far enough away from the light, everything just fades into the dark. Would it even light the sidewalk if I stood below it?” By the end of the story, I feel the clock of my own life ticking down, which, in turn, makes me feel more alive.
Second Prize: “The Color of the Sky” by Chloe Duffy, Portland Community College
Third Prize: “Vines” by Jack Eikrem, Clackamas Community College
“How my brother said I love you” by Kynna Lovin, Portland Community College
Kynna Lovin’s poem “How my Brother said I love you” describes both the diverging paths and the heartbreaking severance between the speaker and her brother in childhood. The poet deftly balances story, musical, and imaginative temperaments. The phrasing is fresh and lucid. The speaker says, “He whose bite is a car / on my left arm.” The poem acknowledges such separations remain as “present-tense burning.” Beautifully made!
Second Prize: “Metallico” by Joshua Ross, Portland Community College
Third Prize: “The successful have a gambling addiction” by Rebecca Blanchard, Lane Community College
“El Problema” by Norma Karelly Ramirez Gonzalez, Portland Community College
In “El Problema,” Norma Karelly Ramirez Gonzalez explores the complexity of being a Mexican-American who can “pass” in American culture due to her position as a “guerita” — or light-skinned Mexican. She finds herself as a guest at a party where the only other Spanish speakers are two women working in the kitchen. The writer feels her affinity for these women, and the inherent tension between the clashing of her two cultures. This piece brings us right into the immediacy of the room with these women–into their language, and into the pain of this divide.
Second Prize: “Attack from the Past” by Chaz Murray, Community College
Third Prize: “Space: The Necessary Frontier” by Jeff Aldrich, Community College
“We had so many great entries this year,” Ponteri said. “Congratulations to everybody who submitted work, and bravo to the writers who won or placed.”