Miscellaneous from the Miscellany and the Nick Adams Short Story Contest

14 January 2022
By Julia Johnston, with comments by Madeline Goldberg and Octavia Washington

Welcome back to campus, Carls! In the midst of all this crazy uncertainty, we’re here to bring you a little stability: the Nick Adams Short Story Contest is running again this year (yes, that’s every year since 1973!). 

Nick Adams Short Story Contest Poster

For the uninitiated, the Nick Adams Short Story Contest is a creative writing contest that runs in January and February for college students who attend one of the 14 colleges in the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM). The contest is named for Hemingway’s long-suffering protagonist in what seems like most of his stories. Every year, students submit their writing to their own college’s English department, and that English department chooses no more than four stories to be sent on to the final judging. The students do not need to be English majors, but the stories must be less than 10,000 words.

Stories do not have to be originally created for the contest, but they cannot have been published previously, nor can they have been selected as a finalist in this contest.

This year, the deadline for submitting your story to Solvei Robertson, our department’s lovely administrative assistant, is noon on Monday, January 24th, 2022. 

After you have turned in your work, the Carleton English department will send on four stories for final judging, and a selection of professors from various colleges in the ACM will choose finalists. The Final Finalist (the winner) is chosen by a special guest judge, who’s usually a pretty cool author. Some of the more recent authors who have been special guest judges include Sandra Cisneros (of House on Mango Street fame) and Maya Angelou (no introduction needed).

What’s that? You want to know what the prize is? The winner of the contest gets a cool $1,000!

And your chances, dear Carl, are pretty darn good, given that three of the last four winners have been from Carleton: “Underwater, I am Weightless,” by Natalie Marsh (2021); “Coming of Age in the Modern Midwest,” by Catherine Johnson (2019); “Maddie, the Whole World; Whole World, Maddie,” by Claire Seymour (2018).

Discover their stories and those from other previous winners.

And there are links to many of their stories on this website.

So get writing (or editing, or submitting) — remember, January 24th at noon is your deadline. Good Luck!

Now, to end this post, we’ll welcome you all to a new segment: it’s called Miscellaneous from the Miscellany, and you’re invited to participate in the comments! This time, the editors are happy to share with you some random assortments of things.

From Julia, a selection of Winter Term Book Recommendations: 

If you like Romance/Action: She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

If you like Historical Fiction: The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

If you like Creative Nonfiction: The Library Book by Susan Orlean

If you like Short Story Collections: No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July

If you’re in the mood for a good cry: Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore

If you ARE Susan Jaret McKinstry or LOVE Susan Jaret McKinstry: The Dante Chamber by Matthew Pearl

From Octavia, a collection of poems in the fruity literary universe:

& Yasica, Puerto Plata by JP Infante 

& Oranges by Gary Soto

& The Orange by Wendy Cope 

& Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti 

& Cherry-Bloom by Helen Maring

& Forbidden Fruit a flavor has by Emily Dickinson 

& Blackberry-Picking by Seamus Heaney 

& Fruit Études by Marilyn Chin

And from Madeline, a list of novels from her Goodreads; she’s taken one book from each ranking (5 stars, 4, etc), but she’s not telling you how many stars she awarded any of them, so in a deliberately obscured order:

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

Have you read any of Julia’s recommendations? Did one of Octavia’s poems make you smile? Which book do you think Madeline gave one star? Let us know in the comments! We’d love it if you added your own Miscellaneous bit of joy to the Miscellany.


  • 2022-01-15 16:47:26
    Jackary Vonnegut

    'Oranges' really struck a chord with me! I too pray for my friends' shortcomings to endure – it brings me no greater joy in life than to watch those so near and dear to my heart suffer. Maiming fruit in displays of talentless strife is but one source of this sadistic glee I crave. Other fruit-related failings that I enjoy include people choking on grapes and biting rinds of watermelons! Octavia and the rest of the Second Laird Miscellany team, thank you for this wonderful contribution to my day. One love

    • 2022-01-15 17:00:28
      Goldie Washburn

      I must say, I'm submitting a formal guess that The Hound of Baskervilles is your five star, mostly because I found it to be fairly pretentious and I know your type in books. That being said, you once told me to read Fire and Hemlock, so I guess that should go onto my Goodreads want-to-read list.

  • 2022-01-18 09:22:23
    Adriana Estill

    Wow, thanks for the intro to "Yasica, Puerto Plata" - I hadn't read any of Infante's work before and now I'm obsessed.
    "When I lived in the mountains,
    I thought the same color meant the same taste.
    Tangerines, oranges and the sun. Citrus.

    When I saw my great-grandmother peel a tangerine with her bare hands
    while men used knives for oranges, she became God.
    I imagined what she could do with the sun."

  • 2022-01-18 10:41:42
    susan jaret mckinstry

    You all made my day, and my list of must-reads. What a wealth of delights in varied voices and forms, an amazing company of writers - and Christina Rossetti shows up twice, proving her importance to literature (and sleuthing, apparently). And true confession, I did not know about Dante's Chamber. Now I know what I will be reading all night ....