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Our State Editor Elizabeth Hudson Selects John Thomas York Winner of the 2017 Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize

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John Thomas York, recipient of the 2017 Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize, on his family’s farm, the setting of his prize essay
(photograph by Rachel York)

John Thomas York of Greensboro is the winner of the 2017 Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize competition for “Seven Years on the Farm.” York will receive $250 from the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association, and his winning essay will be published in the North Carolina Literary Review (NCLR) in 2018.
Elizabeth Hudson, Editor of Our State magazine, selected York’s story for the 2017 Albright Prize, saying, “I found this piece to be an elegiac portrait of the duality of pastoral farm life. The writer’s narrative structure weaves in and out of past and present tense, and there’s rich sensory detail throughout the story. I love the writer’s use of nostalgia, and the piece takes an unexpected — or is it? — turn toward raw cruelty, with a harrowing scene of violence. This essay was haunting enough to stick with me for days — full of depth and beautifully reflective without devolving into sentimentality.”

John Thomas York, who grew up on a farm in northwestern North Carolina, recently retired from teaching in North Carolina’s public schools. His poetry has appeared in Appalachian HeritageAppalachian JournalKenyon Review OnlineTar River Poetry, and Town Creek Poetry. He received NCLR’s first James Applewhite Poetry Prize in 2011, and his prize poem was published in the 2012 issue of NCLR. Also in 2012, Press 53 of Winston-Salem, NC, published York’s first full-length poetry collection, Cold Spring Rising (reviewed in NCLR Online 2013). York’s essay “O Beautiful Bug” won the 2014 Linda Flowers Literary Award from the North Carolina Humanities Council.

Other finalists this year are “Friends” by Lee Bridgers, “Ecumenical Summers” by Chris Carbaugh, “Links in a Chain of Missteps” by Denis DuBay, “Bluebird” by Michelle Reed, and “Appetite” by Susan Underwood.

The North Carolina Literary Review has won numerous awards and citations; it has been published since 1992 by East Carolina University with additional funding from the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association. Beginning with the 2017 issue, ECU is collaborating with the University of North Carolina Press to publish NCLR. The Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize was created in 2015 to honor the founding editor of NCLR.

A two-year subscription to NCLR will include the 2017 issue, featuring the winner from the 2016 Albright competition, and the 2018 issue, featuring York’s prize-winning essay. NCLR subscription information.


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2017 Finalists

  • “Friends” by Lee Bridgers
  • “Ecumenical Summers” by Chris Carbaugh
  • “Links in a Chain of Missteps” by Denis DuBay
  • “Bluebird” by Michelle Reed
  • “Appetite” by Susan Underwood

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