Monday, October 27, 2014


Photo: Markus Vodosek
Today is the day: I am a published author!  Objects of My Attention has been published in the 83rd issue of Quarterly West.

My essay was selected earlier this year as winner of the 2014 Writers at Work Fellowship in literary nonfiction. I'm joined on the "page" of Quarterly West by fiction winner Mil Norman-Risch and poetry winner Molly Spencer. Other contributions of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, new media/visual art, and reviews appear in Issue 83, selected by the editorial staff through their submission process.

Quarterly West (associated with the University of Utah Department of English) has gone completely online. When you visit the QW site, you will find my piece in a hip digital layout. The piece itself is conventionally formatted, but the site around it is visually complex (especially in the version that appears on mobile devices). If that's a bit too much for you, especially in contrast to my subject, you might want to print it out to read (your browser should print without the background).

I am grateful to Robin Hemley for selecting my piece as this year's fellowship winner and to Writers at Work for the time-consuming task of running a competition each year. I'm grateful to Quarterly West for publishing the winning texts. So many people engaged with me as I developed this piece. Nicole Walker, Christopher Merrill, Melanie Rae Thon, Matt Kirkpatrick offered sage teacherly guidance. Many have read and commented: Writers in Stuttgart (especially Cindy, Amy, and Jadi), workshop-mates and classmates, the Craigs (David, Julie, Ann, and Norm), Jim Martin, Anne Adams, audiences at readings in Bad Wimpfen, Oberlin, Alta, and Salt Lake City, and Markus, who lived through these times with me. Steve Woodward (Graywolf) and Emma Komlos-Hrobsky (Tin House) offered spot-on editing advice to make the piece sharper and lither. Miriam, my daughter, expects more of my writing than anyone, and she will continue to drive me until there is a book you can hold in your hands. Simon, whose beauty and struggle have given life to my writing, will always have my loving attention.


  1. Congratulations, my dear - well done! And such a lovely photo. I'd love to see this face in person!

  2. Hello Mary.

    I have just read your astonishing essay while looking into this year's Writers@Work contest. I'm only sorry that I didn't follow up and read it before now. It is absolutely exquisite, and your win is so well deserved.

    I am so sorry for the loss of your son, Simon. I am warmed to think of how much richer his short life must have been for having you as his mother. Your rich sensibilities must have been extraordinarily nourishing to him, however invisible.

    I do hope that you are not working on anything for the W@W 2015 deadline: otherwise I won't stand a chance....

    I hope that 2015 will prove a productive one for your writing life as you move toward something book-length. It's a slow process, for sure...

    All good things,
    Mary Collins