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2010 Contest

Andrew Watt from St. Olaf College Named Winner of the 2010 ACM Nick Adams Short Story Contest

Article posted May 6, 2010

Read the stories!

Winning story:

"Hangmen" by

Andrew Watt

St. Olaf College

Honorable Mention:

"Breaks" by

Jennifer Easler

St. Olaf College

Andrew Watt, a junior at St. Olaf College, has been named the winner of the 38th annual Nick Adams Short Story Contest for his story "Hangmen." Watt will receive the contest's first prize of $1,000, made possible through a generous gift from an anonymous donor.

The final judge this year, who selected the winning story from among six finalists, was award-winning author and journalist Alex Kotlowitz, whose books include Never a City So Real and There Are No Children Here.

In praising Watt's story, Kotlowitz commented:

"Hangmen" is a story that feels both of the past and of the future. The prose is spare and vivid, giving the tale a sense of immediacy, urgency, really. It's a gripping tale. And the writing quiet yet powerful, so much so that it's as if I had been on that bus as it wound its way up the mountain.

Andrew Watt

Andrew Watt

Watt is pursuing a self-designed a major called "Writing for Performance." Although he has enjoyed reading and writing since childhood, he didn't develop a serious interest in writing until arriving at St. Olaf. Since then, Watt said, he has been "seduced by the creative possibilities of telling stories.... I enjoy writing immensely and I believe that there is truth in fiction."

Currently, Watt is collaborating with a friend on a musical and will also begin work on a screenplay next fall. Both works will be part of his "Writing for Performance" portfolio. Although he has no definite plans after graduation in 2011, Watt said he hopes to have a career that involves writing.

In thanking Jenny Dunning, who taught his writing workshop this past fall, Watt noted that "she is a terrific teacher and to her I owe much of my growth as a writer." Watt also thanked the ACM faculty committee that chose the finalist stories, Alex Kotlowitz, and the anonymous donor who made the Nick Adams Contest possible.

Jennifer Easler

Jennifer Easler

Honorable Mention Awarded to Jennifer Easler

Kotlowitz awarded an Honorable Mention to Jennifer Easler, also a student at St. Olaf College, for her story "Breaks."

The story, said Kotlowitz, is "a compelling tale, and one that inventively plays with time, moving back and forth from the present to the past."

He noted his admiration for what Easler achieved in "depicting a single moment which provides an aperture onto the main character's past. 'Breaks' feels both intimate and true."

Faculty Select Contest Finalists

Professors Ryan Fowler and Amy Singer of Knox College and George Barlow of Grinnell College served as initial faculty readers for the 2010 contest, selecting six finalists from among 43 stories submitted this year.

The finalists for the 2010 Nick Adams Short Story Contest were:

  • "Hangmen" by Andrew Watt, St. Olaf College - Winning Story (Note: This story is reprinted with permission. Reproduction of this story without the express, written permission of the author is prohibited.)
  • "Breaks" by Jennifer Easler, St. Olaf College - Honorable Mention (Note: This story is reprinted with permission. Reproduction of this story without the express, written permission of the author is prohibited.)
  • "A Desperate Situation" by Alissa Fleck, Grinnell College
  • "The Death of a Turtle" by Mona Porter, Grinnell College
  • "Finding Cinnamon" by Aaron Schmaltz, Luther College
  • "where the road does not lead you" by  Rae Wood, Carleton College