UMKC’s New Letters Honors Writers

An essay revealing new wisdom, a mysterious poem and a short story told with smart humor took home the 28th annual New Letters Literary Awards, announced in September. New Letters, the literary journal of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, presented each winner with $1,500 and will publish their work in the Winter 2014 issue.

“These awards tend to be won by relatively unknown writers,” said Robert Stewart, New Letters editor-in-chief. “They are writers who, from past experience, tend to develop major reputations.”

First prize in poetry went to Jessica Anne Cuello of New York. Her poems, “Conversion: May 1204” and others, appealed to contest judge Janice N. Harrington, award-winning poet and professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois. Harrington described Cuello’s writing as ambitious and inventive.

“Xirimiri,” Diana Friedman’s short story, impressed contest judge Janet Burroway, novelist and distinguished professor emerita at Florida State University. Friedman, said Burroway, had a style similar to that of Junot Diaz in her skillful withholding and revealing of information.

Fleda Brown won first prize in the essay category for “Strong Brown God.”  Her essay was chosen by Philip Gerard, award-winning author and professor of creative writing at University of North Carolina, for its mellow narrative tone.

All other entries receive consideration for publication in a future issue of New Letters.

“Part of what makes this awards series so successful,” Stewart said, “is our scrupulous process. Writers know where they stand, and they stand with their writing.”

New Letters is now accepting submissions for the 2014 Literary Awards. Visit the website for guidelines. The entry deadline for next year’s awards is May 18, 2014.

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