The Birdwhistle Prizes

 

in POETRY, SHORT FICTION, and NONFICTION

In September of 1856, during only its fourteenth trip along the Missouri River, the steamboat Arabia took on water and sank, her hull ripped open by a walnut snag. The wreckage disappeared beneath the mud of the riverbed within days, obviating salvage. No life perished save a mule’s, tied fast to heavy equipment and there forgotten.

 

More than a century passed before a small team of excavators, led by era-specific maps, a proton magnetometer, and local legend, located the Arabia beneath more than a dozen meters of topsoil at the old Sortor farm. Across the winter of 1988, the team exposed the ship and her artifacts, among them a crate of china, jars of preserved food (still edible), standard supplies, and, curiously, a bound stack of leatherback journals pressed with Percy Birdwhistle’s name.* One passage announced his intentions to institute a set of annual awards, one in poetry, another in short fiction. An anonymous donor has sponsored a prize in Nonfiction.

 

Editor Birdwhistle’s wishes in mind, we now happily herald the inaugural, eponymous Prizes in Poetry, in Short Fiction, and in Nonfiction.

 


 

* In addition to his death having occurred nearly a decade prior to the shipwreck, there is no record that Mr. Birdwhistle had ever traveled so far west.

 

 
 

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