WMU News

Prize-winning fiction in Fall 2004 Third Coast

Oct. 25, 2004

KALAMAZOO--Third Coast, a leading national literary journal published by creative writing graduate students at Western Michigan University, features prize-winning fiction by three emerging writers in its new issue, including the story chosen by WMU English Professor Stuart Dybek as the winner of the magazine's first annual fiction award.

"Smokestack Polka," winner of the 2004 Third Coast Fiction Award, takes place in author Patrick Michael Finn's native Joliet, Ill. Dybek, in judging the story said, "Place is a character in 'Smokestack Polka.' It's almost as if the setting, like the working-class characters who people the story, has an ethnicity. The characters try to go on with their lives while the place broods and mourns around them. And all the while the narrative driven by credible psychological pressure grows increasingly threatening until the elegiac becomes rage. This is artful storytelling."

Finn, who now lives in Scottsbluff, Neb., received the magazine's top award of $1,000 and publication.

The Fall 2004 Third Coast also includes "Ordination," the title story in a collection by Colon, Mich., native Scott Kaukonen and "Argiope" by Rebecca Kanner. Kaukonen won the 2004 Ohio State University Short Fiction Prize for the collection, which will be published by the Ohio State University Press next spring, and "Argiope" won the 2003 Carrie S. Galt Fiction Prize of Washington University in St. Louis, where Kanner is an MFA candidate. Three other short stories also are featured in the fall issue, including "The Mourner," by Bob Hicok, a visiting poet at WMU in 2002-03.

The Fall 2004 issue includes three pieces of creative nonfiction. "Rainbow," a one-page story by Gail Griffin, blends the boundaries of nonfiction and poetry in offering an explanation for the presence of rainbow trout in Spirit Lake of Mt. Saint Helen's-a lake the author claims "was pronounced dead; we all saw the pictures: a hissing bowl of sludge in a grayed-out post-apocalyptic landscape, color doused like flames." Meanwhile, in "A Collection of Rocks: a Portrait," by Michele Root-Bernstein, vignettes are pieced together to create a portrait of a father. This story shows the love of a daughter for her father: a little girl's adoration, a teen's exasperation, a woman's demands, while revealing the daughter's discovery of her father's character. The author's innovative use of a third-person memoir allows the reader to step up close to the characters; the momentum of her language keeps the reader there. And in a work of literary reportage titled "The Road in Winter," author W. Scott Olsen invites the reader along on a drive from Moorhead, Minnesota, to Miles City, Montana, in a jeep. One discovers not only the danger and the solitude of the road in winter, but also the beauty of the American prairie lands and the heartiness of those who travel there.

The editors chose 37 poems by 21 poets for the 176-page issue. Poetry contributors include Terrance Hayes, who gave a Gwen Frostic reading at WMU in September; the late Wendy Bishop; Claire Bateman, author of four collections; and a slew of new and exciting voices from around the country. Elsewhere in the issue is an interview with the poet Major Jackson, a 2003 Gwen Frostic reader.

The front and back cover artist is by Jeff Abshear, who since 1996 has taught printmaking, painting, drawing, art history and book arts in the WMU School of Art. Abshear also received his MFA in printmaking and painting from WMU.

The magazine has announced price increases effective in January 2005. Subscriptions are available for $11 a year (two issues) now or $14 after Dec. 31; $20 for two years (four issues) now or $26 after Dec. 31; or $29 for three years (six issues) now or $38 after Dec. 31. Single copies currently cost $6, and will cost $8 starting with the Spring 2005 edition.

Readers can subscribe or give gift subscriptions by sending a check along with their name and address to: Michelle Hruska, Third Coast business manager, Department of English, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo MI 49008-5331. Third Coast is sold locally at stores including Athena Book Shop, the Michigan News Agency and Barnes & Noble.

Media contact: Thom Myers, 269 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

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