Journal of Writing & Environment

Congratulations to our Sweet Corn winners

Flyway would like to congratulate the winners of this year’s Sweet Corn prizes in fiction and poetry!

Out of a competitive field of short fiction, guest judge Daniel Wallace chose Rachel Richardson’s poignant story “What’s It Like Outside” as winner, and John Yunker’s dystopian “Free Range” as runner-up.

Meanwhile, poetry judge Ned Balbo chose Mark Jay Brewin Jr.’s “The Weems Storm Glass Mysterious Weather Predictor” as winner and Lesley Wheeler’s “A Million Violins” as runner-up.

Richardson’s short story presents a multifaceted view of a high school prom disrupted by a tornado. Wallace wrote, “The writing, sentence for sentence, is smart, and sharp, and beautiful without drawing attention to just how beautiful it is. In less than a couple of thousand words the author creates a very big world, full of characters I feel like I know now. If you dropped this story in a glass of water it would expand into a novel.”

About “Free Range,” he wrote, “I loved the casual way the author wrote about one of our scary potential futures, and did it without being very didactic. In the end it was about what all good stories are about: what it’s like to be alive on this planet, no matter when, no matter where.”

Brewin’s winning poem also tells a story: About a weather prediction device used by Admiral Robert FitzRoy on his 1831 voyage to the Galapagos Islands aboard the HMS Beagle with a young Charles Darwin. Balbo wrote, “A perceptive, witty exploration of science and mysticism through a device that predicts the weather—sudden shifts not only of climate but in time’s passage and history’s whims. We are all ‘wayfarers’ who seek connection to the cosmos, and we accept guidance wherever we find it—even if what we thought was the magic of belief turns out to be only ‘seawater and cloud-smoke.’ Richly inventive and resonant.”

Meanwhile, Balbo described Wheeler’s piece as “a powerful poem that intertwines the grief of sisters facing decisions about a father’s terminal illness. Through a cell phone call that connects them across the miles—from the faraway concert one has left temporarily, to the back deck of a home where the other takes the dreaded call—the poem convincingly examines the complexity of farewells we hope to never make.”

Flyway would like to thank all of this year’s entrants, a competitive field whose work explored the many facets of environmental writing.

Look for the winning stories and poems in the fall edition of Flyway.