Daily Archives: January 7, 2015

Finalists for the Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize

Introducing the four finalists for this year’s Emerging Writer Prize.

Kristen Falso-Capaldi

“I’m going to make some coffee now. It’s very early, and I’ve got lots to say before I leave for work.”

Kristen Falso-Capaldi is a writer, musician and public high school teacher. The latter position has led her to believe she could run a small country if given the opportunity. She is the singer and lyricist for a folk/acoustic duo Kristen & J, she has finished a novel and has co-written a screenplay, Teachers: The Movie, which was an official selection for the 2014 Houston Comedy Film Festival. Kristen’s short story, “Of Man and Mouse” was published in the December 2013 issue of Underground Voices magazine, and several of her micro-fiction pieces have received accolades in various contests. Kristen lives in a small town in northern Rhode Island with her husband and cat.

Ali McCart

“I write because I will no longer censor my narrator.”

Ali McCart’s first publishing job was collating and saddle-stitching a quarterly travel journal before she could even read—that’s what happens to a child of printers and publishers. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in English from Willamette University and a master’s degree in book publishing from Portland State University. She’s the founder and executive editor of Indigo Editing & Publications, where she’s helped authors hone their craft since 2005. Despite all this experience in publishing, she only recently began her journey as a writer.

Phylise Smith

“I write because why I write is an essay, an essay of life, an essay on writing. Why do I write? I write Because.”

Phylise Smith is a dancer storyteller who is transitioning from speaking through movement to speaking through the written word. Before attempting fiction, she published scholarly articles on dance in Choreography and Dance Journal and other dance periodicals.

More recently, she has worked with fiction writers, Ayana Mathis, Leslie Schwartz and Debra Dean. As evidence of her emerging talent, Phylise has been awarded several writing scholarships including scholarships to participate in the Eckert College Writers’ Conference in Florida and the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference.

Phylise has studied writing at UCLA Extension Writer’s program and is currently working on a novel on how tradition impacts women’s lives.

Caroline Zarlengo Sposto

“I write because writing is the final thing I want to do.”

Caroline Sposto began writing poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction in earnest four years ago when her daughters went off to college. Her work has since been published in The Saturday Evening Post, Family Circle Magazine, and an assortment of literary magazines and anthologies in the U.S., the U.K and Canada. She is a Memphis correspondent for Broadwayworld.com, and Poetry Editor of the Humor in America blog. In 2011, she was chosen to participate in the Moss Workshop in Fiction at the University of Memphis with author Richard Bausch. In 2013, she won second place in The Great American Think-off––an amateur philosophy competition that culminates in a public debate in New York Mills, Minnesota. In 2014, she was chosen to spend the summer as a writer in residence at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico. She feels grateful a wistful turning point in life became a happy adventure!

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I Write Because I am a Coward

Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize Semi-finalist Augustine Wetta’s response to the prompt – Why I write…

I Write Because I Am a Coward

I write because I am a coward. I am aware that this sounds like false humility. It is false humility. But it is also true.

Twenty-­‐four years ago, when I was working as a lifeguard in Galveston, Texas, I had to pull a corpse out of the water. The body had been drifting alongshore among the crabs and sharks
for three days. When I arrived on the scene, there was a crowd gathered at the water’s edge, jittery and hushed and expectant; and I remember that I was very frightened because no one knew exactly where the body was. That meant I’d have to swim out there and just keep swimming in circles until I bumped into it. I remember calling into my radio for backup, but knowing that help would be a long time coming because Tower 53 was seventeen miles from Headquarters. And I remember how warm the water was that day, and how every tendril of seaweed that brushed against my skin made me gasp and grit my teeth.

But most of vividly of all—and this is the part that still gives me nightmares—I remember realizing that at any moment, I might just…come unglued. There was a real chance that, in front of all those people, I’d throw my buoy in the sand and run away. That was a real possibility. And I remember saying to myself as I pushed deeper into the water that if I could just set one foot in front of the other, eventually it would all be over.

I am a monk now. I have lived as a Benedictine monk for seventeen years, and I think the reason I write is the same as the reason I pray. Frightening and lonely as it can be, I find that more often than not, one foot follows the other. And I take
consolation in this act of writing, because on that day in 1990, when I stepped into the surf to retrieve the body of an unidentified thirty-­‐year-­‐old Caucasian male, I never found him. Deliberately. I shuffled around in the shallows where I knew I’d never find him—and I stayed there until my supervisors showed up. Then they swam out and retrieved the corpse while I pretended to help.

So you see, I’ve thrown my lot in with the cowards. And although I don’t imagine that I’m much worse of a sinner than anyone else, the fact remains that I’ve stood in the shallows while someone else swam deep and did my job. And I’ve done this more than once. My soul is littered with corpses: unspoken apologies, unwritten letters, unpunished wrongs and unanswered prayers.

Twenty years later, alone in my cell, looking out over the cloister garden, I sometimes think of these failures, and of that day at the 53rd Street Beach, and I am ashamed. But then I begin to write. I put one foot in front of the other. And out of the depths, the corpses begin to surface. I drag them to shore and I give them names.

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