Monica McFawn Robinson, Grand Valley State University affiliate professor of Writing, is one of two winners of this year’s Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. Award winners are selected through an annual competition that attracts as many as 450 manuscripts.
The competition, now celebrating its 30th anniversary, continues to be a celebrated route to publication by the University of Georgia Press. The award was established to encourage gifted young writers by bringing their work to the attention of readers and reviewers.
Robinson, who publishes under the name Monica McFawn, submitted her manuscript of short stories, Bright Shards of Someplace Else. “There are 11 stories very different from each other and not really linked,” said Robinson. “Most of them are built from snippets of a story I might overhear, or things I observe.” Though, as an equestrian who trains her Welsh Cob cross pony in dressage and jumping in her spare time, there are a couple of stories that involve horses.
Flannery O’Connor series editor Nancy Zafris, commenting on the collection, said “The writing and language soar in these amazing, unusual, funny stories that whip away that familiar rug under our feet and turn it into a magic carpet.”
Robinson is currently working on a play. Her fiction and poetry has appeared in journals such as the Georgia Review, Confrontation, Gargoyle, Web Conjunctions, Conduit, Hotel Amerika, and others. She holds an MFA in poetry from Western Michigan University. She said that perhaps because of her work in poetry, she chose to title the collection after a sentence fragment she liked rather than an individual story in the collection.
“I began writing as a poet, but then became obsessed with crafting the sentence and the challenges of short fiction – such as how to layer the structure and what to leave in or out,” said Robinson. “I was teaching a fiction writing class while working on my collection, which also forced me to clarify my writing values.” She also enjoyed creating exercises for her students that would ease the stumbling blocks most writers face – and used the methods for her own writing.