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2009 Contest

Kokoro Lee of Macalester College Named Winner of the 2009 ACM Nick Adams Short Story Contest

Press release April 23, 2009

Kokoro Lee

Kokoro Lee

Kokoro Lee, a senior at Macalester College, has been named the winner of the 37th annual ACM Nick Adams Short Story Contest. Ms. Lee’s story “A Flawed Vivarium” was selected from the 40 stories submitted by students from ACM colleges. The Nick Adams Contest carries with it a first prize of $1,000, made possible through a generous gift from an anonymous donor.

Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife, served as the final judge for the contest this year. In commenting on Ms. Lee’s story, Ms. Niffenegger wrote:

“This is an understated, vividly imagined story that combines elements of Southern Gothic and Darwin gone awry. I appreciated the writer's control and restraint. The protagonist, Maya, is a lovely creation, very serious and sincere, but on the edge of knowledge. This is an unusual coming-of-age story, a beautiful example of science fiction in a realistic setting.”

Kokoro Lee is a double major in Japanese and English with a focus on Creative Writing at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. Ms. Lee, a native of Portland, Oregon, will be graduating this spring and plans to stay in the Twin Cities. Next year, she hopes to apply her English and Japanese majors to the JET (The Japan Exchange and Teaching) Programme, a program funded by the Japanese government that places native English (and other language) teachers throughout Japan. Someday she would like to write and publish novels, short stories, and screenplays. 

As a child, Ms. Lee was a voracious reader, which led “into frantic scribblings of my own stories, which mostly featured talking animals, elves and fairies.” In middle school, Ms. Lee was selected as her school’s delegate for a citywide writer’s fest, and since then she has pursued writing in one way or another. Ms. Lee would like to thank Peter Bognanni, visiting instructor in the English Department at Macalester College, whose Crafts of Writing: Fiction class spurred her to write “A Flawed Vivarium.” Ms. Lee said, “without the feedback of Peter and the entire class, the story would never have become what it has.” 

Two Stories Awarded Honorable Mention 

Taylor Eagan

Taylor Eagan

In addition to Ms. Lee’s winning story, honorable mentions were awarded to “Eleven Kinds of Lonesome” by Taylor Eagan of Coe College and “A Collective Approach” by Adam Soto of Knox College. Both of these stories are available to read (see the links below).

Ms. Niffenegger referred to Ms. Eagan’s story as “an ambitious, clever piece with many moving parts, a real juggling act. The writer has a relaxed, wry voice that made the story very pleasurable.” Ms. Niffenegger was impressed by Mr. Soto’s “empathy for and handling of the characters, and by the writer's rendering of their complex, intertwined situations.”

Professors Shawn Gillen of Beloit College and Melissa Sodeman of Coe College served as initial faculty readers for the contest, selecting six finalists from which Ms. Niffenegger selected the winning and honorable mention stories.

Adam Soto

Adam Soto

Finalists for the 2009 Nick Adams Contest:

  • Taylor Eagan, Coe College -- "Eleven Kinds of Lonesome"  Honorable Mention (Note: This story is reprinted with permission. Reproduction of this story without the express, written permission of the author is prohibited.)
  • Kokoro Lee, Macalester College -- "A Flawed Vivarium"  Winner
  • Sam Martone, Knox College -- “Hangman”
  • David Rysdahl, St. Olaf College -- “Blizzard”
  • Adam Soto, Knox College -- "A Collective Approach"  Honorable Mention (Note: This story is reprinted with permission. Reproduction of this story without the express, written permission of the author is prohibited.)
  • Erik van Mechelen, St. Olaf College -- “View from the Tower”