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Weight of the Word

SFR Presents the 2011 Winners of Our Annual Writing Contest

November 23, 2011, 12:00 am

This year’s writing contest reflects a few themes from the political, environmental and philosophical rollercoaster that was 2011. Nonfiction writers, whose stories will be published Dec. 7, were charged with reporting on corruption—either in its traditional form as the scourge of New Mexico politics or in one of its myriad interpretations. Poets write about the impending apocalypse in their “odes to the end of the world.” Fiction writers were given free rein in terms of subject matter, but had to include the words “Texas cowboy,” “fire” and “crazy eyes” somewhere in their stories. By SFR’s unofficial tally, we received a record number of submissions; the winners represent the very best of some very good writing. Happy reading!

—Alexa Schirtzinger


Kathleen Lee is the author of Travel Among Men, a collection of stories. Her travel essays have appeared in Best American Travel Writing 2001 and 2002.

A former Fulbright scholar and graduate of Harvard University, Emily Rapp is the author of Poster Child: A Memoir, in addition to many essays and stories in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Bark, Bellevue Literary Review, The Sun, Body + Soul, StoryQuarterly, Good Housekeeping, The Texas Observer and others. She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award, a James A Michener Fellowship at the University of Texas-Austin and the Philip Roth Writer-in-Residence fellowship at Bucknell University. She is currently professor of creative writing and literature at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design and a faculty member in the University of California Riverside MFA program. Her next book, Dear Dr. Frankenstein: A Love Story, is forthcoming from Penguin Press in 2013. She is currently at work on a novel.

Miriam Sagan is the founder and director of the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College. Sagan has authored more than 20 books, including Pushcart Prize nominee Tanka from the Edge, Map of the Lost, Gossip and Searching for a Mustard Seed. She has held residency grants at Yaddo and MacDowell, and is the recipient of a grant from The Barbara Deming Foundation/Money for Women and a Lannan Foundation Marfa Residency. In addition to working on site-specific poetry installations, Sagan writes and curates the poetry blog miriamswell.wordpress.com.



Chandler McMillin has run a variety of treatment programs, including an emergency youth shelter, and co-authored seven books on alcoholism and drug addiction. He lives in Santa Fe with his wife Cecile.

READ: Mike's Murder

2nd Place

Belinda Perry drifted west from New Hampshire almost twenty-five years ago and found a home in Santa Fe. As her two favorite subjects are horses and men, those are the subjects she favors in stories and books.
She writes western novels under a man’s name, and recently announced to the public that William A. Luckey is indeed Belinda Perry, a grandmother with pink stripes in her white hair.

READ: A Good ’Un

3rd Place

John Mulhouse moved to Albuquerque in 2009 after spending the previous decade in California, Minnesota, Georgia, and Tennessee. He loves the desert, realizes it doesn’t care too much about him, and thinks that’s all as it should be. Mr. Mulhouse thanks the Santa Fe Reporter for his prize. More of his documentation of the lost, abandoned, beaten, and beautiful can be found at: http://cityofdust.blogspot.com and http://www.flickr.com/photos/cityofdust/. 

READ: The Hunter


1st Place

Arianna Sullivan grew up in Santa Fe. From 2008 to 2010 she attended the UWC Atlantic College in Wales, where she finished her high school education. She spent one year at the New School in New York, before returning to Santa Fe the fall of 2011 to attend the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, where she is currently studying creative writing. Arianna wrote “Cigarettes”in a small apartment on New York’s Lower East Side, where she contemplated the various vices of her generation, and which ones might be worth writing about. 

Publishes Dec 7th


Dianne Layden is a semi-retired college professor and writer in Albuquerque. Her field is American Studies. Dr. Layden has researched public violence for over 20 years, including frontier justice.

Publishes Dec 7th

3rd Place

Paula Nixon grew up in western Kansas where her favorite vacations were family camping and skiing trips to New Mexico. Although she continues to work as an accountant, her ambition, since moving to Santa Fe fifteen years ago, has been to write. She is excited to have a piece published in the Santa Fe Reporter.

Publishes Dec 7th


1st Place

Daniel Bohnhorst moved from Minneapolis to Santa Fe in July, and finally feels at home in the desert. He recently performed in Teatro Paraguas’ Machado y Lorca, a bilingual celebration of the Spanish poets Antonio Machado and Federico García Lorca. He can be found during the week repairing string instruments at the Violin Shop of Santa Fe.

Publishes Dec 7th

2nd Place

Wayne Lee’s poems have appeared in Tupelo Press, Slipstream, New Millennium, The Ledge, The California Quarterly, New Mexico Poetry Review, Adobe Walls, Fixed & Free, The Floating Bridge Anthology and other journals and anthologies. His collections include Doggerel & Caterwauls: Poems Inspired by Cats and Dogs (Red Mountain Press), Twenty Poems from the Blue House (co-authored with his wife, Alice Lee, Whistle Lake Press) and the forthcoming Leap, Float (Red Mountain Press). He lives in Santa Fe, where he works as an educator and journalist. 

Publishes Dec 7th

3rd Place

Michele Heeney was born and raised in Pennsylvania, moved to San Francisco. Then she lived on the North and Central Coast of California and wrote poems for more than 40 years. She moved to New Mexico 6 years ago and has published 3 books of poetry and photos here. She is now working on her fourth book. She lives and works in Cochiti Lake.

Publishes Dec 7th


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