We are honored and excited to announce this year’s recipients of the Emerging Writer Awards, which recognize emerging writers who possess exceptional talent and demonstrate potential for lasting literary careers. The winners will join us in Key West for the 2022 Seminar:
The Cecelia Joyce Johnson Award for a short story goes to Christine Vines; the Scotti Merrill Award for poetry goes to Gabriel Mundo; and the Marianne Russo Award for a novel-in-progress goes to Melanie Pappadis Faranello.
A jury made up of past award winners, KWLS board members and staff, and trusted readers reviewed hundreds of entries this year over the course of multiple rounds. The overall quality of the manuscripts submitted was extremely high this year.
Congratulations to Christine, Gabriel, and Melanie!
CECELIA JOYCE JOHNSON AWARD
for a short story
Christine Vines is a fiction writer from Wichita, Kansas. Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming in One Story, Witness, BOMB, Joyland, Electric Literature, and the Chicago Tribune, where it was a runner-up for the Nelson Algren Literary Award. She was a 2018 W.K. Rose Fellow in Creative Arts at Vassar College, a 2018–19 Steinbeck Fellow at San José State University, the 2020 Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellow at Carson McCullers Center, and a writer-in-residence at the Hambidge Center and elsewhere.
Vines received an MFA degree from Cornell University and has taught English and creative writing at Cornell, San José State University, and the Telluride Association. For four years she ran the Fiction Addiction reading series in New York City.
Our judge, Cecelia Johnson, said of Christine’s winning story: “The author has a very firm grip and expresses with great narrative skill … the young protagonist’s interior psychological point of view.”
SCOTTI MERRILL AWARD
for poetry—selected by Billy Collins
Gabriel Mundo is the son of Mexican immigrants and grew up in the small town of Highwood, Illinois. A first-generation college graduate, he holds a bachelor’s degree in English and writing from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He is currently an MFA degree candidate in poetry at the University of Mississippi.
His work can be found in Tint Journal, Plainsongs, Barzakh, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and elsewhere.
In picking Gabriel as the winner, Billy Collins wrote: “Whether the tone is comforting or terrifying, these poems have a quiet power that derives from their being anchored in the unmistakably real world and spoken in plain language by this charming, clear-eyed poet.”
MARIANNE RUSSO AWARD
for a novel-in-progress
Melanie Pappadis Faranello received her MFA degree in creative writing from the New School and has attended Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She is the founder of the public art project Poetry on the Streets, LLC.
Her writing has been published in Blackbird, HuffPost Personal, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Literary Mama, Requited, and Connotation Press, among others. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, shortlisted for Sarabande Books’ Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, and named a finalist for the Dana Award and for the novel category of the William Faulkner–William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. She is the recipient of an individual artist fellowship grant from the Connecticut Office of the Arts and is a Creative Community Fellow with National Arts Strategies.
Originally from Chicago, Faranello works as a teaching artist, and lives with her family in West Hartford, Connecticut. She has completed two novels and a collection of short stories.
Carol Balick, one of our judges, said of Melanie’s novel-in-progress: “Beautiful writing, so spare, yet rich with emotion. I hope it is published so I can read on.”
Winners of the Emerging Writer Awards receive full tuition to the 2022 Seminar and Writers’ Workshop Program (January 6 – 14), round-trip airfare, full lodging support, a $500 honorarium, and the opportunity to appear on stage during the Seminar. We will begin accepting submissions for 2022 next spring.