The final results in all categories of the 2014 William Faulkner-William Wisdom writing competition (run in conjunction with the excellent Words and Music writers’ conference) have been announced, and Peauxdunque is proud to be the home of a new gold medalist: Maurice Carlos Ruffin has won the gold medal in the novel-in-progress category for his work, All of the Lights! (Peauxdunque’s previous gold medalists areTerri Shrum Stoor in the short story category in 2011, and Emilie Staat in the essay category in 2012). Of All of the Lights, category final judge M.O. Walsh observed:
All of the Lights is more than a novel in progress. It is an absolute gift. The story of a black lawyer in an all-white firm, battling personal demons and marital challenges, racism and the complications of ambition, this is a novel with every level of conflict you could ask for: internal, external, familial, racial, social, immediate, and looming. Yet, in spite of this, All of the Lights also manages to be quickly paced and funny. It feels heartfelt and true because the author is the real deal and his characters—BL, Penny, and Nigel—are the benefactors of his skill. So, of course, are we. This is a novel to fly through once for pleasure and then return to savor the little things you may have missed; all the gems scattered about in the author’s clear prose and insight. Ruffin seems to know what makes us human, what makes us interesting, and a book like All of the Lights, the promise of it, is the reason I read. I’ll be shocked if we don’t see this one on bookshelves soon.
Competition coordinator Rosemary James added that, in the novel-in-progress category, “All preliminary round judges selected one entry as the standout, as their first choice. … [A]ll of them sent back words to the effect: ‘All of the Lights is the clear winner.'”
Maurice also won second place in the essay category, with his essay, “A History in Motion.” Final round judge Jane Satterfield wrote, “The vivid and resonant prose of A History in Motion reveals a writer’s fierce ambition to survive and transcend a parent’s suffering, as well as heartfelt tenderness and hope despite the disquieting signs surrounding him.” The essay is already slated for publication in an upcoming Cicada magazine.
In the short story category, Peauxdunquian Emily Choate won third place for her story, “Sky Fire Shrine Machine”! Final round judge Patrick Samway commented:
This story dramatically relates how Nadine comes to terms with the previous amorous relationships of her co-worker Brant, as they sell fireworks whose names provide a wonderful description of their increasingly tense relationship: Incoming!, Napalm Rampage, Exploding Night Arsenal, and Last Chance. Such explosive pyrotechnic devices provide a wonderful comment on the structure of this story.
Other Peauxdunque finalists in the short story category were Tad Bartlett for his story, “Flock Apart,” and Maurice, with his story, “The Boy Who Would Be Oloye.” Emily‘s story, “Eufala,” was on the short list for finalists in the category, along with Tad‘s story, “Superpowerless.”
In the novel category, Peauxdunque’s J.Ed. Marston and Tad Bartlett were finalists with their collaborative novel, The Truth Project.
J.Ed. was also a finalist in the poetry category, for his piece, “Saturday Stops.” Peauxdunque’s Cassie Pruyn, the second-runner-up in the category in 2013, had another finalist poem this year with her piece, “Lost Love Lounge.”
The announcement with full results is here: 2014_Winners