Heather Sappenfield of Vail, Colorado, has been selected as winner of the fifth annual Danahy Fiction Prize by the editors of Tampa Review. She will receive a cash award of $1,000 and her winning short story, “Indian Prayer,” will be published in Tampa Review 42, forthcoming in summer 2011.
Sappenfield recently earned her MFA from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, where she studied with Brady Udall, Pete Fromm, and Bonnie Jo Campbell. She lives in the heart of the Colorado Rockies with her husband and daughter. In 2011 her fiction has also been chosen as a finalist for the Tennessee Williams Fiction Prize and received Honorable Mention for the Doug Fir Fiction Award judged by Jim Lynch for The Bear Deluxe.
Sappenfield’s winning story draws from her attunement to the natural world and from her childhood experiences.
“My childhood was a wild ride,” Sappenfield says. “I don’t remember most of it, but things come back to me in vivid bursts that are saturated with emotion. It's the best type of genesis for fiction. ‘Indian Prayer’ arrived this way.”
With respect to the significant presence of nature in the story, Sappenfield explains, “I crave open spaces in daily doses, find in it regeneration, redemption, balance, and it is rarely absent from my stories.”
This year the judges also named an exceptional runner-up story, “Three Little Indians” by John Blair, of San Marcos, Texas. Blair is a widely published fiction writer and a professor in the Department of English at Texas State University, where he directs the undergraduate creative writing program.
The Danahy Fiction Prize was established by Paul and Georgia Danahy as an annual award for a previously unpublished work of short fiction judged by the editors of Tampa Review, the faculty-edited literary journal of the University of Tampa, published twice yearly in a distinctive hardback format. Subscriptions are $22 annually, and those received before July 15, 2011, will begin with the issue featuring Sappenfield’s prize-winning story.
The Danahy Fiction Prize is open to both new and widely published writers, with an annual postmark deadline of November 1. The $15 entry fee includes a one-year subscription to Tampa Review, and all entries submitted are considered for publication.
Complete guidelines are available on the Web at http://tampareview.ut.edu or by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to The Danahy Fiction Prize, University of Tampa Press, 401 West Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33606.