2015 Healing Stories Contest Winners

Congratulations to the 2015 winners of our Healing Stories Creative Writing Contest. We hope you will take the time to read through these thoughtful and evocative writing submissions on health and healing.

Short Story

First Place Prize: $1,000

Homestretch” by Derrick Spencer (Howard University)

Here’s what the review panel had to say about “Homestretch”: “I loved reading ‘Homestretch’. It’s well conceived and executed and full of good humor. The clever use of dialect and powerful descriptions make you feel like you’re there. The writer’s use of imagery and details makes you glad you’re not! Its conceit of arriving (home after a long bus ride and home as a self-determined wellness) helps us to see, all along the way, that sometimes we need to question what it means to be well.”

Second Place Prize: $500

The Sky Is Blue” by Jeaiza M. Quinones (Prairie View A&M University)

Here’s what the review panel had to say about “The Sky is Blue”: “It’s hard to imagine a story about Alzheimer’s and death being uplifting, but ‘The Sky is Blue’ achieved that. The story is well told and cleverly structured…. I felt attached to Buela, but what a touching way for her to go…. so full of agency. I will long remember this story, probably long after I start forgetting too many other things!”

Third Place Prize: $250

No Time to Worry” by Alexis Grant (Howard University)

Here’s what the review panel had to say about “No Time to Worry”: “‘No Time to Worry’ makes great use of suspense and selective detail. It may not have been a happy ending, but there was a beautifully written story along the way.”


Poetry

First Place Prize: $1,000 

They Call Me Fat Girl“ by Al-Majid Edwards (Hampton University)

Here’s what the review panel had to say about “They Call Me Fat Girl”: “‘They Call Me Fat Girl’ is a powerful convergence of physical and emotional health. It portrays a poignant struggle for healing after a brave recognition of the speaker’s ailment. The poem (and the speaker) takes bold leaps toward acceptance and healing. On that path there are stark juxtapositions where societal norms crash against historical representations and legacies of trauma unique to the experiences of Black womanhood. The poem’s traveling historically demonstrates the ways that health and wellness are often dependent, not just on the immediate experience of physical health, but also on a long and compounded history of emotional and spiritual wellness.”

Second Place Prize: $500

Tapestry” by Angel Dye (Howard University)

Here’s what the review panel had to say about “Tapestry”: “‘Tapestry’ effectively and beautifully carries the metaphor of cloth, of being woven and pulled apart throughout the poem. It presents the healing of emotional pain coupled with the experiences of physical and substance abuse. The allusions to broken bodies via the frayed cloth persist in the poem, but the poem also strongly asserts healing in the midst of unbearable pain. This is the overwhelmingly beautiful aspect of the story that emerges here—that something beautiful and strong can emerge from a deeply painful experience and that the process of healing itself can render something beautiful. I dare people to say they never had these thoughts about their parents. I also dare them to try to put them in as elegant verse as this young poet did.”

Third Place Prize: $250

On the Mend” by Tebogo Ndlovu (Saint Augustine’s University)

Here’s what the review panel had to say about “On the Mend”: “‘On the Mend’ says so much in so few lines. It’s somewhat distant narrative voice only heightens the narrator’s call for thoughtfulness about what should be said (and how) as a healing ensues. This poet is skillful and pays deliberate attention to form. A college writer that packs this much power is one to watch. It won’t be long before we hear more from Tebogo Ndlovu.”