It is a leap of faith to enter a writing contest. Believe me, I know.
I’ve done it for years, always forking over a fee, always pondering the things a submitter is bound to ponder: Does my cover letter matter? Does this journal really read every entry? Do the editors truly consider all entries for “regular” issues of the journal? Do the judges have any taste—or do they favor the usual me-first dreck passing for contemporary art?
Despite these questions, I inevitably entered, buoyed by the knowledge that if I won or earned an honorable mention, I’d have something to be proud of for the rest of my career. Art can be an applauseless journey, and any third-party recognition of one’s work can ferry a creator through dark and dire straits. Believe me, I know that too.
So, the first thing, or really, the fourth thing, I want to say (having dispensed with my own me-first dreck) is: Thank you. Thank you for taking the leap and entering. Thank you for paying the fee. Thank you for opening yourself up and writing something down. And thank you for sharing your writing with Solstice. We esteem every one of you. This Summer Contest Issue features our winners, runners-up, finalists, and editors’ picks, but it would not be possible without all of you who overcame your questions and entered.
I invite you to click on the Poetry, Nonfiction, Fiction, and Graphic Lit Editors’ notes to read more about the amazing, award-winning writing in this issue. The issue also features outstanding photography from Lou Jones’s recent Kenya series. Thank you, Lou, for your wonderful work, in this issue and always. (You can find more of Lou’s photography at https://www.fotojones.com/.)
I also want to thank our distinguished judges: Jabari Asim (Fiction Prize), Alysia Abbott (Michael Steinberg Nonfiction Prize), Tomás Q. Morín (Stephen Dunn Poetry Prize), and Josh Neufeld (Graphic Lit Prize). We appreciate the time you took to review our entries, and we’re thrilled with your selections. Finally, I want to thank the Solstice staff: William Betcher, Barbara Siegel Carlson, Richard Cambridge, Ewa Chrusciel, Anjali Mitter Duva, Robbie Gamble, Richard Hoffman, Jill Johnson, and Andrai Whitted.