2018 Literary Contest Winners

ACC Writers Studio 2018 Literary Contest Winners

ACC Writers Studio is happy to announce the winners of its 2018 literary contest. First place winners receive $250, an invitation to attend our Writers Studio Literary Festival on April 14, 2018 where they will read from their winning work, and publication in next year’s ACC art and literary journal, Progenitor. Second place winners are our guests at the Writers Studio Literary Festival. 

Congratulations to the winners of the contest and many thanks to everyone who entered our 2018 Writers Studio Literary Contest. The judges were impressed by the quality of work in all categories this year. 


Final Judge: Sarah Elizabeth Schantz


Laura FarnsworthDarryl Halbrooks, "Eden"

Darryl Halbrooks’ fiction has appeared in The New Delta Review, Verdad, Slow Trains, Kudzu, The Chaffin Journal, The Hamilton Stone Review, The Gihon River Review, Broken Bridge, Amoskeag, Cellar Roots, Dispatch, The Heartland Review and elsewhere. His visual art has been has been exhibited widely in the US and abroad and is represented in many private, public and corporate collections.
"I was immediately intrigued by the use of the unreliable narrator in the short story, “Eden,” a literary device that kept me hooked until the very end. While certain details made me nervous (like the nearby machine gunner, the accumulation of “signs,” and the general xenophobia and paranoia the narrator exudes), I also found myself genuinely sympathetic for the person on the page I found talking to me about his life, his philosophy, his rules; I not only wanted to know him better, I wanted to know what had happened to him and his family that I would find him in such a situation. The subtext vibrates, providing enough clues to keep the reader’s mind spinning while the details on the surface are as rich as they are unique. Most resonant is the motif of the snake as it twists itself throughout the narrative, but I also appreciate such specifics as the “Gardens of Eden” paintings the narrator produces (especially because Vernon Hickman is ready to take over the supply for this demand AND because of the way the narrator sneaks space ships into the otherwise Biblical landscapes). As the outside world continues to encroach, sometimes even trespassing onto the narrator’s attempt at Utopia, we gain more and more insight into the causes of the effect. The open ending of the piece begs us to go back over all the details provided both between the lines and within; thus, long after we’ve finished reading, we are still working at this story just as this story is still working at us."

Runner Up:

Deb Fello, "Part Timers"

"I’m a sucker for the adolescent voice in literature just as I am a sucker for stories where different worlds collide and characters get a good look at the “Other” as does Remi Rabin in “Part Timers.” This story really stuck with me. I found the full-circle structure of the story successful in the way the ending echoed both the social contract of the tables in the school cafeteria, but also the assigned partnership of these two unlikely (yet totally likely) friends as introduced to us at the very beginning. This is a becoming narrative, a classic Bildungsroman as the author has found a way to not only showcase the growth of the narrator, Remi Rabin, but our growth as the reader and the humans we all are despite whatever circumstances we’ve been dealt by life."


"Circa" by Kathy Mendt
"Clean" by Jordan Cass
"Closer Than They Appear" by Marilyn Warner
"The Great American Patriotic War" by Darryl Halbrooks
"The Other Side" by Angie Thompson


Final Judge: Natanya Ann Pulley


Kristin LeclaireAlejandro Lucero, "Sapello Seasons"

Alejandro Lucero graduated in 2017 with an AA from Arapahoe Community College. He would like to finish his education and teach English and writing. He is the recipient of the ACC Writers Studio Scholarship for 2015. His poem “Breathing Karen” and essay “Lessons from the Woodpile” can be seen in the 2016 issue of Progenitor Art and Literary Journal.

"Not only am I transported through seasons to alfalfa fields, a lattice panel porch, bumpy roads, and a living room of swirling cigarette smoke and lace curtains, but I can feel the weight and heart of each object: hand-made cards, sun tea in a flowered glass pitcher, a crooked basketball hoop, an estranged list of condiments, and things rusty, scratchy, or breathless and once glowing. This description creates a full world, but it isn’t an easy one to hold. The beauty in this piece is in the language, images, and the graceful tone of the writing, but working alongside these is the form. Through segmented moments and dream logic—the way we move through memory, we aren’t being asked to imagine the past as a solid, linear narrative to comprehend and absorb; The past escapes all of us as it does this narrator. What we find in this work along with a carefully rendered setting or discovery is a priceless type of presentness—the kind that makes us vulnerable creatures in the world. We hold within us the details, small moments, and utterances of who we are while we seek to leave behind the times that threaten to reach out and define us."

Runner Up:

Rosa Izquierdo, "Part-Time No-Job"

"I enjoyed this exploration of a day’s efforts accounted for not only because of its ability to build tension and risk, but because that which goes unsaid becomes such a force in the piece. We see the activities of the author as a student and a functioning human before they collide with the needs of the domestic and this rising pressure of comparing what is done in the home in the service of others with the whittling of women throughout history learned in class. This tug between the immediate tasks of our narrator as mother, wife, and house caretaker and the intellectual pursuits of a hungry mind had me at an edge while reading. And yet, under it all—in the unspoken and liminal spaces the personal desires and needs of an individual resides. The author’s ache echoes throughout and continues to stick with me as a part of a chorus of women who sacrifice so (too) much for the ones they love."


Patsy Stockton, "Changing Seasons"


Final Judge: Wayne Miller


Quinn Elise RennerfeldtBrian Dickson “¡Oye! ¡Gringo!”

Brian Dickson teaches at Community College of Denver. He is the author of two chapbooks, In a Heart’s Rut, Maybe This is How Tides Work, and one book, All Points Radiant.

“¡Oye! ¡Gringo!” is a headlong poem that deftly maps the overlapping layers of identity found in the American Southwest: Mexicans, Gringos, Jehovah’s Witnesses, La Raza Boys, folks who believe “there can never be enough / beer cans with American flags to drink,” and—at the poem’s center—famous Mexican-American golfer Lee Trevino. All these various people and perspectives are presented without condescension or simplification, such that the picture the poem offers is simultaneously humane, complex, and real. I’m immediately drawn to the poet’s conversational and sharply rhythmic language, his/her deployment of anaphora (“I call on,” “I call on”), and his/her specific, slang-y, and unapologetic use of Spanish (“fresa,” “panocha”). This is confident, wonderful work.

Runner Up:

Runner up: "Soundtrack" by Jane Adair

“Soundtrack” is a poem of youth as viewed/modified through the lens of experience. The poem is primarily narrative—about a road trip when the speaker was twenty—and at its core is the discomfiting, resonant symbol of a car in the rearview mirror suddenly “drift[ing] off the shoulder without a sound.” What persists of that moment, then, is the speaker’s lack of understanding of what happened as she continues moving forward. The poet’s talents are on full display throughout: the temporal compression of “I slept through the Appalachians, unbent my legs in Georgia”; the descriptive brilliance of “I was more concave than convex / [. . .] curved inward / watching a silent film.” This is sophisticated, accomplished writing.


"Since Yesterday" by Susan Spear
"So Many Flowers" by Sandra McGarry
"Still Life With Stepfather" by Jane Adair
"Windsong" by Jane Adair