At the end of Fall 2021, the Missouri State department of English held its annual Student Literary Competition. Submissions open in October for current undergraduate and graduate students. Students are invited to submit at least one work to any of the four categories; fiction, graphic narrative, creative nonfiction, and poetry. The creative writing faculty chooses finalists from these submissions to send along to outside judges. The judges are typically writers with ties to Moon City Press, who sponsors the contest in collaboration with the department of English.
The winners of each category received a $200 cash prize and will have their work published in Moon City Review 2022, set to release in March.
Winner: “One Way Ticket to the Big Pit” by Meg Sharman
The fiction category was judged by Tara Isabel Zambrano, author of Death, Desire, and Other Destinations. Zambrano said “‘One Way Ticket to the Big Pit’ is a story with a lot of heart. Its deceptively simple language is daring in its core, meandering through the complex issues of relationships seamlessly.”
Other finalists in fiction include Hunter Adams, Taylor Barnhart, Steven Brymer, Sharon DeRubis, Jessica Flanigan, Blake Peery, Kathleen Powell, Habeeb Renfroe, and Shaina Thompson.
Winner: “The True Story of My First Kiss” by Dez Pounds
The new graphic narrative category was judged by cartoonist/author Josh Neufeld. Neufeld chose Pounds’ entry as the winner, saying “What strikes me most about the piece is the author’s rhythmic poetic voice, which is well-balanced by the storytelling and the pencils-only artwork. The story, though bittersweet, is sprinkled with much-needed humor, and punctuated by a surprising/heartrending ending.”
Other finalists in graphic narrative include Steven Brymer, Tara Doepke, and Katie McWilliams.
Winner: “A Colonized Essay with a Swollen-Leg Girl from Arambagh Intersection” by Sujash Purna
The creative nonfiction category was judged by John McNally, author of several books of fiction, nonfiction, and pedagogy. McNally called Purna’s essay “an impressive hybrid of the expository and the poetic, the didactic and the sublime.”
Other finalists in creative nonfiction are Alexandria Clay and William Cole.
Winner: “Please call me Katie with an ‘e'” by Katie McWilliams
The poetry category was judged by Nancy Chen Long, author of Wider Than the Sky and Light Into Bodies. Long said “There is much to admire in ‘Please call me Katie with an ‘e’.’ At the poem’s center is an invitation to experience the embodiment of contrasting voices: one loquacious, compliant, and youthful, while the other is succinct and authoritative – less wide-eyed. Through the poet’s masterful use of form, rhyme, diction, syntax, and imagery, this winning poem interrogates the divergent aspects of identity, impressing upon us that one can indeed, as Whitman wrote, contain multitudes.”
Other finalists in poetry include Molly Del Rossi, Abigail Jensen, Jueun Lee, Sujash Purna, and Eli Slover.