The MFA in Creative Writing Program at The New School is proud to announce the winners of the 2017 New School Chapbook Series! Each year, alumni from the most recent cohort of graduates are invited to submit a chapbook of their work, in their genre of study -Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, or Writing for Children and Young Adults - to the contest. The contest is judged by an acclaimed author in each genre who is not affiliated with the program. A winner is chosen in each genre; winners receive a large portion of the printed copies and are featured in a public reading hosted by the program.
Poetry: Becoming A God by Thomas Moody
Selected by Donna Masini, author of Turning to Fiction: Poems.
"Terrible times require poems that interrogate and confront. Here is a book built on questions and cross-examinations. (Watch the many permutations of “cross” that move through these poems.) It’s an unabashedly “male” book that, in part, investigates the idea, the historical repercussions of, “maleness”. I found myself hearing Rukeyser’s “No more masks! / No more mythologies!” as I read the title poem with its litany of imprisoned selves: “No longer do I have to worry / about masks. There is no / mask, it has calcified / onto my face so that I have / become what I always / wanted and now I cannot / be anything else.” In a world in which celebrity rules, quite literally, with its reality TV president, Becoming a God explores what it might mean to be ordinary, unheroic, to live uncelebrated in the quotidian world."
THOMAS MOODY is Australian and lives in New York.
Writing for Children and Young Adults: Maybe the Flamingos by Julia Lynn Rubin
Selected by Jan Carr, author of Toe Shoe Mouse.
Maybe the Flamingos by Julia Lynn Rubin distinguishes itself with its vivid protagonist and compelling voice. This confident opening to a YA novel is crafted with a deft hand. In the depressed landscape of their tiny town, Daisy and her friend Emily drive past housing projects and an abandoned mill to flirt with boys who work at the roadside fireworks stand. Daisy is sexually and emotionally reckless, passing out drunk at the VFW Hall, not quite remembering whom she slept with. What keeps us rooting for her is her knowing take on her bleak circumstances. The knickknack tourist shop off the highway makes her feel “unspeakably lonely.” And the female music teacher she had an affair with “was nothing special really. I just made myself believe that she was.” Rubin folds in tantalizing tastes of Daisy’s childhood; when she was six, she made “haphazard breakfasts” to buoy her mom. When Daisy finds out that she herself is pregnant, there’s a gut-wrenching passage in which she details the sad path her life might now take. But through it all, she takes pleasure in her close, sustaining friendship with Emily, and the grace notes that illuminate it, for instance, the late afternoon sunlight hitting Emily’s face “like a splash of gold against porcelain,” even while “The days were growing shorter and shorter, like inches being hemmed off a dress.”
JULIA LYNN RUBIN is a graduate of The New School’s MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program. Her short stories have appeared in publications such as the North American Review, Riprap Literary Journal, and Sierra Nevada Review. She lives in Brooklyn, where she is currently working on her next young adult novel.
Nonfiction: The Stories We've Built by Parrish Turner
Selected by Jill Bialosky, author of History of a Suicide: My Sister's Unfinished Life.
"The Stories We’ve Built is an absorbing, stirring and rhapsodic lyric exploration of body and gender. “Could you help me with something? ….how do you get do you be a girl?” the narrator asks, struggling with an identity that doesn’t make sense. The pages move from an examination of THE DSM IV: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition listing the characteristics of Gender Identity Disorder, a diagnosis for individuals seeking to transition, to stereotypical sex roles in make-believe play such as tea parties and dance lessons for girls, climbing, hooting and hollering for boys, to the inevitability of puberty, where bodily changes such as getting one’s first bra and menstruation enact their own inner wars. What emerges in this bold essay in three parts is the sense of dislocation and estrangement from a body in which the narrator is held prisoner to the transformation that occurs when the body moves into a shape more familiar with itself. “I was taught the narrative I needed to have, so I procured it,” the narrator boldly states. The Stories We’ve Built is a brave, dynamic and moving depiction of the body and the mind in search of its true home."
PARRISH TURNER is an editor and essayist who hails from Georgia. He was a 2014 Lambda Literary Fellow in Nonfiction and received his MFA from The New School in 2017. His work has appeared in The Rumpus, Gertrude Press, and Gaslight. His work centers race, gender, regionality, religion, and sex. For more information, visit www.parrishturner.com.
Fiction: Texas Toast by Fahima Haque
Selected by Nick Laird, author of Modern Gods.
"Texas Toast seemed to fully realize its ambition. The story lived as a piece of fiction: it captured the tensions of an urban high school, and the code switching that all young people learn to do naturally. It created a real world with real people in it, demonstrating emotional understanding and using the well-judged demotic - and occasionally electric - language. The shifts of the story were well-handled: its narrative tensions promised some future turmoil that kept the plot moving forward, and there was a sense that the writer was always in control of the material. I'd have liked to keep on reading."
FAHIMA HAQUE graduated from The New School with an MFA in Fiction in 2017 and is a social media editor at The New York Times. She's disproportionally proud of being born and raised in Elmhurst, Queens and is working on a short story collection focusing on just that.
Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to all who submitted!
Learn more about Creative Writing at The New School on our website.