The Pushcart Prize is one of the most coveted honors in literary publishing. And it all starts with a story, submitted to a magazine like ours.
Each year, Pushcart invites editors at small presses and literary magazines to nominate six stories, published within current year, to the annual contest. Just before I sat down to write this post, I printed off our selections, our answer to the call for nominations, as shown in the photo below. I lingered on these piles of paper sitting on my desk a bit before putting them in the envelope. As an editor of an online magazine, it’s not every day that I literally touch a story that touched me in some way.
Envelopes, just like mine, will begin to arrive in publisher Bill Henderson’s mailbox, and he and his team of editors will sift through hundreds if not thousands of submissions and select the best of the best. The winning stories are published in an annual Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses collection; the 2016 edition will include this year’s winners and a list of all presses and magazines that provided nominations.
A Pushcart win is huge, and a very Pushcart nomination is an admirable feat for an emerging or established writer. Magazine editors like me are limited to just a half-dozen nominations from an entire year’s worth of issues. This year, Hippocampus published about 215 pieces of creative nonfiction: essays, memoir excerpts and flash. With input from our staff, I narrowed down several hundred to these six:
- Stitching the Womb by Pamela Ramos Langley, January
- A Moon Story, Sarah Cedeno, July
- A Gun Story by A.A. Weiss, August
- Behind the Walls, Vance Voyles, September
- Lessons in Sign, Jennifer Alise Drew, November
- How to Attend an Indian Funeral, Allison Williams, November
Please join me in congratulating this deserving bunch. I wish Pamela, Sarah, A.A., Vance, Jennifer and Allison luck as the big manila envelope travels to New York, where its contents will get sorted and read. With interest, I hope.
P.S. A touching email reply today from one of these nominees about his or her nod, which will remain private of course, reinforced something for me. What’s extra special about this process for me, is that a few people on this list had not been published before. So not only did Hippocampus give some “new” writers a home, but we also got to further celebrate a first-time success. That should remind writers, all writers, to just keep plugging away. Stories do find homes. And when they do, things can really fall into place!