2016 William Van Dyke Short Story Prize Winners: Amy Pechukas + Jeff Marcus Wheeler

October 31, 2016

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.  


FIRST PLACE: "Evisa's Cascades" by Amy Pechukas

  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.  

SECOND PLACE: "He Shall Reign" by Jeff Marcus Wheeler 

 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."


HONORABLE MENTION: "The Sweet Hot Burning Heart of Earla Cloud" by Nicole Parsons

 Nicole Parsons has been a ranch cook, an English teacher, a corporate trainer and a freelance writer. She has a Master's in Literature and a certificate in Spiritual Direction. Nicole lives with her husband in Westcliffe, Colorado where she grows a garden, teaches storytelling, and writes stories every week with a couple of friends. Our final judge Shann Ray writes: "Finally, I commend the author of "The Sweet Hot Burning Heart of Earla Cloud" for immersing readers in a story of intricate imagination, the nature of voice, and the surprise of how our relationships form us."  

Eileen Arthurs
Jessica Barksdale
Marleen Pasch
Jeannie Prinsen
Ryan Rickrode

Thank you to all of you who entered the Nonfiction prize!  
Ruminate Magazine hosts an annual contest for short fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and visual art. You can read more about our writing contests and art contest here.

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