The only thing more rewarding than holding a new issue of Alligator Juniper fresh off the printing press is celebrating the authors who have work published within those pages.
“The Fairly Quiet Hour,” by E.L. DeLeo, was published in the 2013 issue of AJ as one of the student winners of the Susan Tito Prize. It will be published again this year in plain china, an anthology of the best undergraduate writing. Judge Natalie Singer had this to say about DeLeo’s writing:
“The Fairly Quiet Hour” is an almost surreal-feeling tale of the author’s commitment to a psychiatric ward at the age of 16 after a suicide attempt. The author is what a former writing teacher of mine calls a member of a special club. She is part of a small society of people who have been involuntarily incarcerated and who have felt a type of madness most of us never will. She has the ability to invite us, the readers, into this secret club. In short, she starts with a great story.
But it was not the rarity of her story, the extremity of this club, that drew me in as much as it was the series of important choices the writer made, and the impact of those on the reader’s experience.
Here is a segment from “The Fairly Quiet Hour”:
The group meeting room is separated from the common room by a hall so long that I cannot even hear BET. A doorless threshold behind me leads into an approximately ten-by-ten-foot room that is hard not to notice while sitting in group meetings. This bedroom-like space is empty save for a thin, vinyl mattress set in a wooden bed frame in the center of the floor. The mattress has no blanket or pillow. At the bed frame’s corners, four slots are carved into the wood.
Four men twice my size step through the doorway behind me. My head is between my knees, and I have compressed myself into the smallest space possible. I lift my head for an instant to check the wall clock. It is 4:30 p.m.
Before it happens, one of them says “Okay.” I feel a hand touch my shoulder. For a moment I think they might let this go. Maybe they are about to say, This is unnecessary. Look at her. She’s not doing anything.
Then the hand squeezes my shoulder, but not in a forgiving way. It squeezes as if to lift me by my shoulder. Until this moment, I was plotting an escape route. I forgot why men open jars.
“The Fairly Quiet Hour” will be published in plain china’s November 2014 issue. To read the full story and judge’s note before November, grab a copy of AJ 2013 here.
We would also like to recognize the recent publication of Crystal Jenkins Woods’ first book of poetry. An earlier version of one of the poems in the book, “What a Porno Won’t Show,” appeared in the 2011 issue of AJ. This collection, titled Gravity, can be found at New Plains Press.
Mentioned above as the judge of the 2013 issue’s student contest, Natalie Singer was also the winner of the national contest with “How to Be Analog” and is currently the Managing Editor of Parent Map magazine. Singer will be a guest teacher at an upcoming event for writers starting a book project or with a book project in progress. This writer’s retreat will be held at the Doe Bay Resort and Retreat from June 4-8th. For more information, visit http://writingismydrink.com/2014/02/11/doe-bay-work-on-that-book-writers-retreat/.
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