St. Olaf News
Two St. Olaf students honored in ACM short story contest
April 8, 2014
St. Olaf College students Zoey Slater ‘14 and Elise Erickson ‘14 earned top honors in the 2014 Associated Colleges of the Midwest Nick Adams Short Story Contest.
Slater was named co-winner of the contest alongside Knox College student Alex Zimay ‘15.
Slater says she has always loved reading, but didn’t seriously consider taking up writing until she took St. Olaf Writer in Residence Benjamin Percy’s Intermediate Fiction Writing class.
Her winning story, “The Fawn,” is the tale of a woman who receives a surprise phone call from the daughter she had given up for adoption.
“The story itself is important to me because it is the first time I’ve creatively expressed my emotions and thoughts surrounding my experience as an adoptee,” says Slater. “The reception the story has received is extremely encouraging.”
The contest’s final judge, nationally acclaimed author Bonnie Jo Campbell, said Slater’s piece is “built of wonderful material, and I found that its images stuck with me. [The main character] works for a taxidermist and has taken up the study and practice of taxidermy as a hobby … [Slater] does a great job of describing and making sense of the northern Wisconsin winter, and we are affected by the gruesome and sterile faces and figures of the animals she stuffs and poses.”
Erickson’s piece, “Our Lady of the Wilderness,” earned an Honorable Mention. The story focuses on a sister in a rural convent whose best friend, a fellow nun, has disappeared into the wilderness without a trace. Like Slater, Erickson composed her piece during Percy’s Intermediate Fiction Writing course.
“I think it’s a wonderful reflection on the St. Olaf English Department, and I’m grateful to Ben Percy and the other faculty members who have encouraged me in my writing,” Erickson says.
Slater and Zimay will be recognized for their winning stories April 11 at an ACM student symposium in Chicago.
The Nick Adams Short Story Contest, named for the young protagonist of many Hemingway stories, was established in 1973. Judges in past years have included such literary luminaries as Jane Smiley, Saul Bellow, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, Anne Tyler, Maya Angelou, Barbara Kingsolver, Jane Hamilton, and Stuart Dybek.