June 2017 Judge’s Report
Meg Pokrass

I could not believe how many powerful stories I read in the long list of fifty stories. It was very difficult to select the short list of twenty and then to choose the winners. I noticed that many stories involved a longing for lost innocence, equilibrium, and trust—a feeling that seems to be with us so much these days as the world becomes an increasingly chaotic place. What sensitive, strong voices you all have.

First Prize
Tying the Boats In 164 words, the shortest on the long list, ‘Tying the Boats’ is an elegant, masterful piece in which every word is essential. The author makes brilliant use of metaphor, yet her touch is gentle. The power in this story involves what is not said, which leaves the reader on-edge. We can’t help but identify with the main character, who we see is in emotional danger.

Second Prize
The Cool Box feels like a novel inside a flash, is told with inventive, unpredictable detail. I’m fascinated by how this author creates an entire family history in such few words! Also interesting is how the author shows us how the present (compared to the past) feels shallow and disjointed.

Third Prize
The Place We Live Before We Don’t shows us fragments of a life while waiting for death. This writer makes use of wonderful, specific detail to create a tapestry of loss. The suspenseful build-up in this flash is masterful.

Acute Intoxication This is a skillful story about wishing to return to a more emotionally secure time following the near death of the partner.

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