We hope you all had a wonderful summer. For us, the fall brings two exciting annual events: our Push to Publish one-day publishing conference and the announcement of our Marguerite McGlinn Fiction Prize winning story, which we are proud to present in this issue. Each year, the contest gains more national attention and better and better writers. We’ve also been lucky each year to find wonderful judges—professionals who are not just terrific writers in their own right, but also care deeply about the work of other writers. This year’s judge, Steve Almond, is the epitome of such a professional. Steve read the final nine stories, whittled down from almost 300 entries by our dedicated group of contest readers. Here is what he had to say about those stories:
“I had no idea what to expect when I was asked to judge the Philadelphia Stories contest. I knew, from looking over the magazine, that PS ran strong work. But I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY by the quality of these nine stories. I read lots of short fiction, in manuscript form and in magazines and books. And when I do I’m always waiting—I think every reader is—for the same feeling: that peculiar mix of awe and envy that lets me know I’m in the presence of a true literary artist. All of the final stories I read featured deft prose, memorable characters, and compelling plots. I can only say that I kept returning to a few of them, for the simple reason that they seemed the most emotionally ambitious, the most determined to root out what Graham Greene called ‘the heart of the matter.’”
We hope you enjoy reading the third annual Marguerite McGlinn fiction Prize winning story by B.G. Firmani. Steve gave “To the Garden” high praise: “The story is a stone-cold miracle. The proximate setting—Wilmington and its environs —is rendered with stunning precision. But it’s a larger story than that. [It’s] the story of race and class in this country, of the struggle to realize some brighter future in the face of a broken present. The true courage of this piece resides in its stubborn determination to confront the truth around us, and inside us. As tough as our protagonist tries to be, her heartbreak marks every word. This is one of the finest pieces of fiction I’ve ever read.”
Philadelphia Stories will honor B.G. Firmani at a special awards dinner to be held on the campus of Rosemont College on October 14, 2011, the evening before the Push to Publish conference. Judge Steve Almond will also join us for the weekend, first with a master class on writing humor on the afternoon of October 14, and then as our keynote speaker for the Push to Publish conference on October 15. We hope you can join us!
Carla Spataro and Christine Weiser