Philadelphia Stories Selects 2016 Winner of National Short Story Contest

Magazine News

September 2016, Philadelphia, PA: Philadelphia Stories, a non-profit literary magazine, has chosen local author Kate Blakinger as the winner for its eighth annual Marguerite McGlinn Prize for Fiction.

Board members pored over more than 300 submissions, narrowing the stories down to just 9 finalists which were then reviewed by renowned author and 2016 judge, Robin Black. Black chose Blakinger’s “The Hothouse Lounge,” saying she was impressed with how the story “knocked me down with its blade-sharp expressions of grief, of caring, of desire, all leaping out from the familiar feel of daily sadness, daily love, daily hope.”

This year’s second place winner is Dana De Greff, a freelance arts journalist and Master in Fine Arts candidate in fiction at University of Miami. Black said of her story “How to Make a Baseball Player Cry”: “This powerful response to Roberto Clemente’s life and tragic death has an energy to it and a heart as well that carried me through, engaged and moved, tangled in a respectfully revived sadness from many decades ago. A study in the need for and limits on empathy, ‘How To Make A Baseball Player Cry’ is a lyrical, affecting story that has stayed with me. Beautifully done.”

Third place is awarded to full-time author Charlie Watts, for his story “Found Wanting.” Black said of his winning piece: “Sometimes a stranger comes to town, and sometimes you are the stranger who steps into an unfamiliar place. ‘Found Wanting’ with its almost hallucinatory quality takes a man on a gritty journey from his life in powerful language and with unforgettable images, unforgettable lessons too in the tight circles people draw, sometimes unimaginably, around themselves. A terrifically absorbing story.”

The contest finalists (in no particular order) are:

  • Claire Luchette, “Tenders”
  • Robert Sullivan, “Short-Term Solutions to Uncomfortable Arm Syndrome”
  • Vanessa Brown, “Reckoning”
  • Diana Xin, “Some Kind of Grace”
  • William Pei, “Two Lives” and “Once a Cellist”


Blakinger will be honored at an awards dinner to be held at Rosemont College on Friday, October 7, 2016, followed by Philadelphia Stories’ annual Push to Publish Conference on Saturday, October 8, 2016. The annual conference will be held for on the campus of Rosemont College, which offers an MFA in Creative Writing and an M.A. in Publishing, and has actively supported the writing community through events like Push to Publish. Black will deliver the keynote address at the event.


Kate Blakinger lives in Philadelphia with her husband and son. Her short stories have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Harpur Palate, The Iowa Review, and other magazines. She holds an MFA from the University of Michigan, where she received the Meijer Postgraduate Fellowship. She has also received fellowships from the Elizabeth George Foundation, Jentel, the MacDowell Colony, and Penn State Altoona.

Dana De Greff grew up between Miami, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Cameroon and has taught English in Albacete, Spain and Patagonia, Chile. Currently, she is a Master in Fine Arts candidate in fiction at University of Miami. She also writes book reviews for The Miami Herald, is a freelance arts journalist, teaches poetry with O, Miami to children in Liberty City, and is working with Voice of Our Nation Arts Foundation (VONA/Voices) in community outreach.

Charlie Watts was born in Washington, D.C., but grew up on the campus of Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA, and a family farm in Freedom, NH. He earned both his BFA (1986) and MFA (1992) from Brown University in Providence, RI, studying with writers including Meredith Steinbach, Robert Coover, John Hawkes, Edmund White, and Michael Ondaatje. Charlie, who returned to writing in 2013 after a long detour into communications consulting, has published work in Clerestory Journal and Carve magazine. He also has work forthcoming on The Drum, an online audio journal, and Narrative magazine. His story, Arrangements, won the 2015 Raymond Carver Short Story Contest. Charlie was also a finalist in the 2016 Hemingway Shorts contest sponsored by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park. He and his wife, a chaplain, have three grown children and live in Rhode Island and New Hampshire.

This annual national short fiction contest features a first place $2,000 cash award and invitation to an awards dinner on Friday, October 7th, on the campus of Rosemont College; a second place cash prize of $500; and third place cash prize of $250. The first place story will be published in the print issue of Fall 2016 of Philadelphia Stories; the second and third place winning stories will appear in the Fall 2016 online issue. The Marguerite McGlinn Prize for Fiction is made possible by the generous support of the McGlinn and Hansma families.

For more on the Marguerite McGlinn Prize for Fiction, go here

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s