Ruminate Magazine is excited to share with you the winners of the 2016 William Van Dyke Short Story Prize. The winning piece was selected by our final judge, Shann Ray. You can read the winning pieces in Issue 41: And The Soul Felt Its Worth.
Amy Pechukas is a teacher, nurse, and writer. . . and a former waitress, cook, baker, boat-driver, and alpaca care-taker. She has written poetry, memoir and fiction since she was a small, bushy-haired child. In her adult ESL classes, she enjoys making creative and academic writing an engaging, dynamic part of class. Current interests and passions include nature, biking, swimming, her lovely mutts, reading engrossing novels, cooking, singing aloud with students, dancing, and connecting with friends and family.
Our final judge Shann Ray writes:
"Amy Pechukas, author of 'Evisa's Cascades,' is gifted with profound understandings of life and the deepest recesses of the human heart. The prose is elegant, contains a subtle robust architecture, and in the end becomes a vessel of great compassion. The story draws us in, leading us in a dual descent and ascent that collapses binaries and arrives at an impressive sense of gravity. I found myself swept into a progression by stages both interwoven and startling in which the reading took me through a range of despair, loss, the doldrums of our untold dreams, and the most ragged alienations we suffer within ourselves and in relation to others. Marriage itself becomes a fiery crucible touched by the natural world in mysterious ways. All the while in this dark and beautiful story, we question. We seek. A more artistic, more tender and numinous path of life is revealed without rigidity, beyond grief and bereavement. Uniquely illumined, Amy's prose contains complexity and at the same time a pure, undiluted sense of grace. I am so impressed by the sheer immensity of the mercy I experienced in reading this story. All this grace, mercy, and a form of love that exists perhaps at the center of the world, Amy accomplishes while maintaining an intimate relationship to the darkly illumined histories we all share. Soulful. Powerful. Like all great works of art, 'Evisa's Cascades' resonates and uplifts, even as it speaks to the darkness we know."
You can read "Evisa's Cascades" in issue 41.
Jeff Marcus Wheeler is a lover, fighter, hater, and liar. He lives in San Francisco and teaches at both Saint Mary's College of California and The Culinary Institute of America in the Napa Valley. Our final judge Shann Ray writes: "I also want to commend the author of the second place story, "And He Shall Reign" for writing with such fullness, creativity, dignity, and engagement of the struggle between the material and immaterial worlds."
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