Stone Canoe, A Journal of Arts, Literature and Social Commentary published by Syracuse University, awarded the 2013 Institute for Veterans and Military Families Prize for Written Work by a Veteran this weekend during the journal’s Number 7 issue publication launch party Jan. 26 at Community Folk Art Center, Syracuse. This is the inaugural award.
The IVMF prize, an unsolicited award, is given annually to a U.S. veteran for a series of three poems or a short work of fiction or nonfiction. The award is in the emerging artist category and is only open to writers who have not yet published a book with a major press. The subject matter of the piece may be about veteran or military family issues, but is not required. The IVMF prize represents an opportunity to recognize veterans as contributors to the arts on topics related to military service, about their experiences as veterans and simply as authors who have served.
First place winner of the 2013 IVMF Prize for Written Work by a Veteran is Ed Soohoo for his work “Blue Coast,” a beautifully rendered fictional account of a romance between an American soldier and French woman during the World War II era. Soohoo is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and a retired electrical engineer who has been wiring for 10 year about his experiences in Naval intelligence. He served during the Korean War, from 1951-54. Honorable mention was awarded to Samuel Gifford for his work “Mary Alice,” a sensitive work of fiction focused on a husband’s memories of his first youthful encounters with his wife many years before. A veteran of the Army, at different times in his career, Gifford has been a newspaper reporter, corporate vice president and faculty member at SUNY Buffalo.
In addition, the work of veteran writers who submitted pieces for consideration for the prize is also published in the issue. This includes “The Raid” (fiction) by Dewaine Farria, a Marine Corps veteran and U.N. field security officer based at U.N. headquarters around the world whose writing appears frequently on the World Policy Institute blog; “Dry Heat” (fiction) by J.p. Lawrence, a photojournalist with the Army who has produced more than 200 published pieces on Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Germany, and Australia; “Unlearned” (poetry) by Paul Elisha, a decorated Special Forces World War II combat veteran who received a NYS Council of the Arts award for a series of poems honoring the heroic actions of New York’s 27th Infantry Division during WW II, and who is now a commentator and host of poetry and classical music programs on Albany’s WAMC Northeast Public Radio; “Short Dream of Leveling a Building” (poetry) by David S. Pointer, who served in the Marine Corps military police from 1980-84 and is the son of a piano-playing bank robber who died when David was three years old; “Landing at Tan Son Nhut: November 1965” (poetry) by Mac McGowan, a two-tour former infantry man/paratrooper during Vietnam and has been a featured poet at the David B. Steinman Festival of the Arts at St. Lawrence College; and “No Escape” (poetry) by Rick Christman, who served in the Army from 1966-69 and whose work has appeared in such journals as Indiana Review and Connecticut Review.
“The IVMF is concerned with the holistic picture of being a veteran. Many veteran writers have a strong tradition of sharing their experiences with war, and return from war, with their fellow veterans and the non-veteran public, bridging experiences and views. Others never write about war or their experiences. Both cases add to the diversity of writing in the world, and we’re very proud to support this award, and even more excited to recognize the talents of both Ed and Samuel as the first veteran author recipients,” says James Schmeling, IVMF managing director and co-founder.
This year, the panel of visiting jurors for the IVMF prize for Stone Canoe Issue 7 was a group of acclaimed, published authors who are war veterans. The group consisted of Karl Marlantes, a former U.S. Marine, veteran of Vietnam, and author of “Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War” (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2010) and “What It Is Like To Go To War” (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2011); Anthony Swofford, a former Marine, Gulf War I veteran, and author of “Jarhead: A Marine’s Chronicle of the Gulf War” (Scribner, 2003) and “Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails: A Memoir” (Twelve, 2012); and Brian Turner, an Army veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and author of the poetry collection, “Here, Bullet” (Alice James Books, 2005).
Submissions for the 2014 IVMF Prize for Written Work by a Veteran are being taken through July 1 via the submissions page on the Stone Canoe website. Announcement of winners will be made in October. The winner’s selected work and the honorable mention will both be published in the next issue of Stone Canoe, Number 8. The selected recipient will receive a Stone Canoe certificate, $500 and an original stone canoe carving by Native American artist Tom Huff.