UW-Green Bay Associate Prof. Rebecca Meacham, English and Humanistic Studies, has won a literary journal contest award for her chapbook of flash fiction, which will be published in early March.
“Morbid Curiosities” earned top honors in the chapbook contest of New Delta Review, a literary journal produced by graduate students in the Master of Fine Arts program at Louisiana State University. Meacham’s work consists of 14 stories that are between 290 and 1,000 words long, in keeping with the style of flash fiction, which generally describes very short stories. The entire chapbook will be about 45 pages long.
Meacham’s collection explores the line between private loss and public spectacle in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, with stories often imagined from found things: suitcases, watches, news headlines, school spellers. Events range from the mundane to the extraordinary, with one tale imagining the voices behind the suitcases of inmates in a New York insane asylum from 1910 until 1960. Another story uses the language of an 1870s primer to help students seek revenge on a cruel schoolmaster, while yet another assumes the point of view of a tornado. Twelve of 14 of the collection’s stories have been, or will be, published in journals. Many are available online, and can be accessed via Meacham’s website, http://rebeccameachamwriter.com.
The New Delta Review award was chosen by Mark Yakich, writer and professor of English at Loyola University New Orleans. In reviewing the collection, Yakich reflects on how Meacham uses death and irony in her works of flash fiction: “What I glean most of all here is that while many of us live lives of intentional or unintentional irony, it is death that best ‘enfold[s] the layers of irony’ we’ve lived. As at the end of the story ‘Mrs. Williamson Winds the Watch,’ we view death ‘surprised’ and something to ‘back away’ from, but also we often find ourselves ‘smiling’ to endure morbidity: ‘giddy as a girl carrying the sun in her pocket, poised on the brink of radiance.’ “ That story is one of two set in Wisconsin, written as Meacham was researching the infamous Peshtigo Fire of 1871.