Regan Ralston, a first-year graduate student in English, was the winner of the Fall 2019 Distinguished Voices Short Story Contest for her short story, “Death in Four Parts.” Sarah Daniels, a second-year inclusive childhood education major, was named finalist for her short story “Blue Elephants.”
The Distinguished Voices in Literature series brings visiting writers to campus each semester to give workshops, readings and lectures. These visiting writers also judge college-wide writing contests, the winners of which are featured online in the Crystallize Review. Last fall, visiting author Emily Fridlund, author of the novel History of Wolves, was the guest judge for the Fall 2019 Distinguished Voices Short Story Contest.
Fridlund wrote this about Ralston’s short story: "'Death in Four Parts' is an evocative meditation on inheritance and family. In rich, surprising language, the narrator traces the ways a family member can be lost before they die and can persist in unexpected ways long after death. Unforgettable details – like the smell of mildewed honeysuckle, or the feeling of dressing in the candlelit dark – gradually coalesce to reveal the haunting at this story's heart.”
“The piece I submitted is a lot of memory, feeling and writing through grief,” Ralston said. “Writing is a way to know more and see more of ourselves – and others. This is why I love writing and why I’m working so hard to teach English language arts one day.”
Ralston works at the SUNY Cortland Writing Center and is a graduate assistant for the English Department.
“I'm grateful to Emily Fridlund for considering my work with such care, and I'll always remember her kind words for my writing,” Ralston said.
Fridlund wrote the following about Daniels’ short story: “‘Blue Elephants’ is a complex and terrifying psychological portrait of domestic abuse, told with emotional nuance and heartbreaking precision.”
Distinguished Voices in Literature events and contests are funded by the President’s Office, the Haines Fund, the Provost’s Office, the Dean’s Office, Campus Artist and Lectures Series, Cultural and Intellectual Climate Committee, ASC Cortland, Alumni Association, Cortland Writers Association, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the English Department.