TQ4 Prose Open Contest with notes by judge, EJ Levy

EJ Levy

Meet our TQ4 Prose Open Contest judge: EJ Levy



            Morgan: a Lyric by Boyer Rickel

An exquisite, unflinching portrait of lovers battling death (in the form of cystic fibrosis), this elliptical love-song to the late poet Morgan Lucas Schuldt achieves a prose at once austere and lush. Threaded through with phrases from the Iliad’s epic battle, “Morgan: A Lyric” elevates a modern medical drama to the level of myth not simply by means of deft allusion but through movingly precise observations, brilliantly distilled. In the sure hands of this writer, a single line encapsulates how chronic illness bleeds into the whole of life, infecting even birdsong (“In the apartment dark, wrens chattering in the bare limbs of a tree in winter—my tinnitus”) as together two men love in the face of inevitable loss.


Runners Up

            The Amazing Furniture Ascender by Alexander Lumans

A funny, odd-ball allegory of an acrobat who finds his calling in the wake of the September 11 attacks, “The Amazing” lampoons the precariousness of attempting to quell global political unrest by means of military occupation and stunts; told in reverse chronology, this brief piece is itself a daring feat.


            My Father the Doppelganger by Brian Heston

A remarkably convincing story of a man whose father returns from the dead in the guise of a stranger, “My Father” vividly captures the ways in which grief becomes the filter through which the mourning view life.


            Light Year by Edward Hamlin

A vivid portrait of the last days of a photographer losing her sight.


Finalists/Honorable Mentions

            Words in Intercourse: waves. The Waves. woman (an elegy for Virginia Woolf) by Julie Cooper Fratrik

            Please Tell Us Why You Are Not Highly Satisfied (A Series of Open Letters) by Jack Martin

            Ode to the Stairs by Andrea Witzke Slot

            Baudelaire’s Sister at the Betty Ford by Deirdra McAfee

            Fields of Vision by Rachael Peckham