Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 6

February 11th, 2019

 

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…..On March 11, 2019, .Jerry Jazz Musician .will publish the 50th .winning story in our thrice-yearly Short Fiction Contest. To celebrate this landmark event, we have asked all the previous winners (dating to 2002) to reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

…..Beginning on January 7 – and on every Monday through March 4 – we will publish five or six profiles of participating authors, along with their winning story.

…..For this feature, authors were provided with a list of the following questions as a guideline for creating their profile:

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What do you remember about your winning story?

Did winning this contest impact your writing career? 

What did the publication of your story mean to you?

Are you still writing?

What are five books you have recently read that you would recommend to others?

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…..Many writers responded in a short essay, and others did so via a “question and answer” format.

…..These profiles are an entertaining, enlightening, and at times emotional look at the stimulating, rewarding process of creative writing, and the people whose work has made important contributions to this publication over the years.  Many thanks to everyone who took the time to so thoughtfully participate.

…..I would also like to thank everyone who has thought enough of this publication to submit their work for consideration.  In 49 contests spread out over 16 years, we have chosen 46 winners from over 7,000 stories submitted — a stark reminder of the challenges of this art form.

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This week’s edition covers authors of winning stories #’s 29 – 34

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To read the edition for winning stories #’s 1 – 6, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 7-11, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 12 – 16, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 17 – 23, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #24 – 28, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 35 – 38, click here

 To read the edition for winning stories #’s 39 – 44, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 45 – 49, click here

 

 

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Gabriella Costa

Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #29

“Inspiration”

Published March, 2012

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Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician. Short Fiction Contest #33

“The Lighthouse”

Published July, 2013

 

 

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On paper, 2012 and 2013 aren’t so long ago, are they?  Yet these years feel like they belong to a whole different past.  That is, I was in high school when I wrote both “Inspiration” and “The Lighthouse,” which appear on this site.

Mr. Richard Weems, one of my teachers in school, was a formidable and incredible mentor for me at this time.  He took me seriously as a writer, which meant forcing me to put words on the page.  This was despite my unbelievable anguish over every little comma.  Part of this endeavor required me to submit my work for publication.  Winning the Jerry Jazz Musician contest for “Inspiration” was a confirmation of sorts that I was on the right track.  It gave me the energy to keep on trying and to keep on writing.  This resulted in further stories—including “The Lighthouse,” some personal essays about bagels, and the graduation speech for my high school class.

My writing took a decidedly academic shift while an undergraduate at Fordham University.  I double majored in the potent mixture of English and Art History, and my research focused on modernism in literature and art.  After graduating, I worked in publishing for the most lovely company of them all, Workman Publishing.

Now that I am recently back in school, I am still writing—almost more than I can handle.  This is, however, writing of the academic term paper type for my graduate program at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, where I work on religion and visual art.

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Five recommended books:

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner

Cowboys Are My Weakness by Pam Houston

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

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Gabriella Costa is based out of New Haven, Connecticut.  She is a Masters student in Religion, Visual Arts, and Material Culture at Yale Divinity School and the Institute of Sacred Music.  She comes to Yale from Fordham University, where she received a B.A. with Honors in Art History and English.  With a larger interest in the ethics of representation, her research focuses on memory and iconoclasm in both modernism and late modernism.  Currently, she is exploring the destruction of art in environments of imminent violence and injustice.

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Inspiration

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Gabriella Costa

(Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #29. Published March, 2012)

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…..The garden by the sea is just beginning to grow into itself. Its green has started to spill out over the fence and tumble onto the walk that lines the side of the shore house. The weather is warming, and combined with the rich soil of the ground, the plants reap the favor of the earth, led to grow lush and vibrant across the expanse. The tendrils of the cucumbers have travelled far up their trellises, continuing to curl out into the air, while the bushes of basil nearby explode into a happy, bright leafed green. Lines of squash plants have commandeered large spaces of land as they begin to put out big orange blossoms, visited by the fluttering white cabbage moths. They pass over the onions and scallions who, lifting themselves out of the soil, announce their arrival; they are almost ready to be pulled out, their tall vertical leaves starting to show signs of falling over. In the center of the garden there are several bamboo cages, threaded with twine as they hold the prized tomatoes. The yellow flowers of the Brandywine dot along the green, teasingly revealing the places where the juicy summer fruit will grow.

…..Every year Thomas Walcott attempts to save a few of the seeds of his tomato plants, scooping out the pulp of his favorite varieties and placing each into their own jars. He allows the pulp to ferment and drop its heirloom seeds to the bottom of the glass where he can collect them. Meticulously, he spreads the good seeds out on paper towels where they can dry for next year. When the time comes to plant his tomatoes each June, Walcott sews these seeds along with the other packets he inevitably orders from the planting catalogs left monthly in his mailbox.

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Click here to continue reading the story

 

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The Lighthouse

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Gabriella Costa

(Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #33. Published July, 2013)

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…..“Fine,” she says. “Give me your hand.”

…..Look up.

…..Empty spaces, open and promising for my skin to slip into, lie between the pale fingers that wag impatiently in my direction. I want to either kiss those milky tips or break the digits one by one. But my hand has no conflict and longs for nothing more than to fill those gaps left by her fingers. It knows where it belongs, and I watch as it begins to reach out, a thin layer of cold sweat over the palm.

…..The impatience painted across her face, the utter tiredness behind her eyes and lines of judgment around her pursed lips, is almost enough for me to grab her hand immediately, quick and fervently like a child snatching a reward. Her mouth opens and no words come out, but her sighs are far worse than any clamor of irritated words. It’s just that for as long as I can remember people have been helping me up the stairs. Over mountains and across bridges. I know too well the touch of an obligatory palm against mine and the feel of nails from unwilling fingers as they grasp much too tightly. But if I don’t take her hand, I’ll let her down.

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Click here to continue reading the story

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Arya Jenkins

Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest #30

“So What”

Published July, 2012

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“So What”–A JOURNEY FROM JAZZ TO FICTION

The story I wrote that was chosen as a winner by the Jerry Jazz Musician contest in 2012 was titled “So What,” after the opening tune in what is regarded by some as the greatest jazz album of all time, Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue. I had launched into writing fiction after a break of about two years and wanted to go in a different direction thematically. And I was compelled by the main character in my story, a young bicultural adolescent girl struggling with issues of identity and relationship, especially to her father, in the 70s. The essence of the story is wild and fresh, youthful and transcendent, qualities inherent also in jazz, the music at its heart.

The mood of Davis’s “So What,” its cool and bravado, its incredible attunement not only to the times but to the American character resonated with my narrative, echoed its own imperatives. I wanted to thread the idea of loss with the idea of a constant heart that could be found in music along with the pulse of loss and beginning, which runs throughout Davis’s album and jazz in general. Davis’s composition was rebellious, brave and blue like my main character, and its musical coherence helped anchor my story of the same name in the present, past and future, establishing a frame of reference that has universal meaning and import.

Upon finishing my story, “So What,” I tried to find a publisher that was apropos, but sadly, could not find a single magazine that published jazz fiction. My sister Marcela Breton had edited a jazz anthology titled Hot and Cool in the 1980s, so I knew such fiction existed. Anyone who has read Zora Neale Hurston’s or James Baldwin’s stories would have known it existed. It has been around as long as those struggling to survive in America who love the music have been around.

I have been challenged with the question by interviewers, what is jazz fiction?—as if this is something new or revolutionary. It is not. Just as jazz improvisation is viewed as a kind of narrative, so can narratives by minorities be viewed as jazz. It’s not a question, but a fact as it’s been done–many times over.

While searching for an appropriate venue for my story, “So What,” I went online and came upon Jerry Jazz Musician. As I perused the website, I saw that noted jazz critic Nat Hentoff had praised it as the premier jazz site, something that impressed me. Then came the clincher–Jerry Jazz Musician ran a fiction contest and paid money for the winning entry. I submitted my story and was very pleased to see it run and subsequently to discover that the editor, Joe Maita, whom I have yet to meet, so liked my stories, their connectivity to jazz, that he commissioned me to write them on a fairly regular basis for the zine, paying me for them while allowing me to keep the rights to my work. This, in the publishing world, is somewhat equivalent to winning the Lotto.

These days writers are faced with the humiliating task of paying to submit stories, poems and nonfiction, never hearing a single word of feedback—yay or nay from editors—and basically having to support their own creative process, start to finish. Many writers are as poor as they are dedicated to their craft. A writer needs a room of her own, as writer Virginia Woolf so eloquently stated in her preeminent essay, but she also requires consistent support. I have been very fortunate to find in Joe Maita of Jerry Jazz Musician, a uniquely supportive editor, one who has not only provided a home for my work, but facilitated my impulse toward experimentation, essential to growth in any art.

This November, Fomite Press will be publishing a collection of jazz stories that appeared in their original form in Jerry Jazz Musician. The collection is titled Blue Songs in an Open Key. I am deeply indebted to the incredible support of this website and Joe Maita, who is not only a true champion of American jazz, but of the arts that support and run concurrent to it, nurturing what is left of the American dream, and helping in the process to re-create it.

If you like, you can order my book here, http://www.aryafjenkins.com

 

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So What

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Arya Jenkins

(Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #30. Published July, 2012)

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…..Whenever I’m pissed off, I escape to the pit. Out the kitchen door, fists deep in the pockets of my tight ass jeans, I head towards the woods back of the house.

…..I cross the backyard, past Moreno, the poor chained up son-of-a-bitch boxer. Rosa clinches his leash, pulling him close like a kid. The poor son-of-a-bitch tenses as I go by, his spindly legs and stubby tail shivering at my wrath, ears perked, head cocked – Was up girl, grounded again?

…..Fuck you, you pig, I say, cause what is going on in my mind is getting bigger and bigger, and I cannot be interrupted by this canine nonsense. You dig?

…..I stare at the ground, as leaves scatter to escape my ire. My shoulders hunch and I steel myself like a football player, letting nothing get in my way, snapping branches as I strut the path, a mesh of leaves and branches closing tighter, sealing everything out. I pop a cig butt into my mouth.

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Click here to continue reading the story

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Joe Dibuduo

Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #31

“Night Cafe”

Published November, 2012

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Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician. Short Fiction Contest #34

“Alto Saxophone”

Published November, 2013

 

 

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I have always been interested in art. One of the first novels I wrote, was one I always wished to see on bookshelves, but never did. Though interested in art, I often got bored turning page after page of paintings. I wanted to a book with illustrations of famous paintings, but rather than just pictures, I wanted a story to connect each painting to encourage a reader to go on to the next painting, and the next. I visualized a coffee table book, large enough to show off the paintings, but due to the expense, we’ve published, The Contest as a paperback. (Now available on Amazon)

The artist who most impressed me was Van Gogh. I saw his Starry Night painting close up and as I beheld it, his creativity coursed through me. My arms tingled as I imagined how it felt to add the brush strokes to this beautiful image. His thoughts came from my imagination as I seemed to know what traveled through his mind as he painted. I found this the most moving experience I ever had from a piece of art.

As I wrote The Contest, I studied his painting the Night Café, and thought about how Van Gogh must have felt and acted when getting released from the asylum. The story “Night Cafe” isn’t at all factual, but this is how I imagined him. Before the book was published, I sent it to Jerry Jazz Musician as an entry to the fiction contest. It surprised me that I won as when I wrote the story I was a beginning writer.

Joe Maita invited me to send another story for another contest and I sent “Alto Saxophone,” which I wrote after listening to and speaking with Milt Cannon who plays a sweet alto sax and is the founder of the Prescott Jazz Festival. As in Van Gogh’s story, everything in “Alto Sax” comes from my imagination. I was very proud to win twice and have not entered since, but may enter the next contest if I think of a suitable story.

I continue to write almost every day. Jaded Ibis productions published my memoir, A Crime A Day. In 2015, Cryonic Man and The Contest were published by Tootie Doo Press, The Mountain will Cover You  is self-published, as is, Karoake Time @ The Chicagoua Café.  I ‘ve published short story collections and a poetry book, Out of this World Sci-Fi Poetry which continues to sell a few copies monthly.  I also had stories printed and in online anthologies.

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http://joedibuduo.com/

 

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Night Cafe

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Joe Dibuduo

(Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #31.  Published November, 2012)

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…..When my doctor released me from the asylum in Saint-Remy, he warned me to stay away from absinthe or my hallucinations would worsen. I didn’t tell him I had no need for absinthe to hallucinate. I often had company, even when there wasn’t anyone with me.

…..I’d spent some of my time in the asylum playing billiards. Everyone assured me that I was a natural, the best player they’d ever seen. Maybe, instead of painting, I’d play billiards for a living. As soon as I walked past the gates of the asylum, I headed to Arles and the Cafe de la Gare at 30 Place Lamartine. I’d heard many stories about the fine billiards table in this tavern and the ample crowd of gamblers willing to bet large sums of money on every game.

…..Night descended as I entered the cafe, lit by four hanging lamps made of lemon-lime glass that emanated a greenish light. The blood red walls seemed to ooze into a lower section painted in a dark yellow, and the green billiard table in the middle of the room added to the eerie sensation of color revolving around me in kaleidoscopic circles.

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Click here to continue reading the story

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Alto Saxophone

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Joe Dibuduo

(Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #34.  Published November, 2013)

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…..In a little town in Illinois, in a bar near the Wisconsin border, one man blew honey-dripping sounds from his saxophone. A woman’s body swayed in time with the sweetness emitting from that horn. She kept time with the beat and moved like melodic notes going up and down the scale. I imagined blowing musical sounds into her ear.

…..I crossed the wooden dance floor where she whirled, grabbed her hand and began to spin. Like musical notes, one black, one white, we danced all night. I softly sang into her ear, “Imagine how we’d dance in bed.”

…..She laughed in a low contralto voice, and changed it to a soprano when the high notes flowed.

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Anna Dallara

(photograph provided Jerry Jazz Musician in March, 2013)

Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #33

“The Valley of Ashes”

Published March, 2013

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Attempts to reach Ms. Dallara for this feature were unsuccessful.  At the time of this story’s publication, she was a high school senior, a black belt, jazz flutist, and amateur book-binder.  While she had won community writing events prior, “The Valley of Ashes” was her first published story..

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The Valley of Ashes

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Anna Dallara

(Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #33.  Published March, 2013)

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…..She didn’t dance to the music; she danced with it. The melody wrapped his arms around her and the chords ran ivory fingers through her curls. Harmony whispered in her ear and she laughed at all his jokes. She twirled up and down scales with him, the hem of her skirt swirling a single syncopated beat behind her. Her form in her red dress was as curvaceous as the treble clef, and her quick smile flashed staccato at the other dancers and drinkers, lingering largo in the hearts of those who were gifted with the lively beats.

…..Where she moved, others followed, enraptured by her dance, her smile. Most of them already knew her; indeed, it was hard not to know her. Her skirt fanned out to the very edges of a room, tickling the ankles of everyone who walked by.

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In this Issue

“The Jazz Photography Issue” features an interview with today’s most eminent jazz portrait photographer Carol Friedman, news from Michael Cuscuna about newly released Francis Wolff photos, as well as archived interviews with William Gottlieb, Herman Leonard, Lee Tanner, a piece on Milt Hinton, a new edition of photos from Veryl Oakland, and much more…

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This month, a playlist of 18 recently released jazz recordings by six artists -- Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano. Matt Brewer, Tom Harrell, Zela Margossian, and Aaron Burnett

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"Crossing the Ribbon" by Linnea Kellar is the winning story of the 51st Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest

Poetry

Seventeen poets contribute to the Summer, 2019 collection of jazz poetry reflecting an array of energy, emotion and improvisation

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Dianne Reeves, Nate Chinen, Gary Giddins, Michael Cuscuna, Eliane Elias and Ashley Kahn are among the 12 writers, musicians, and music executives who list and write about their favorite Blue Note albums

Pressed for All Time

In an excerpt from his book Pressed for All Time, Michael Jarrett interviews producer John Snyder about the experience of working with Ornette Coleman at the time of his 1977 album Dancing in Your Head

Art

“Charles Ingham’s Jazz Narratives” — a continuing series

Poetry

Poetry by John Stupp and Michael L. Newell

Art

Jerry Jazz Musician regularly publishes a series of posts featuring excerpts of the photography and stories/captions found in Jazz in Available Light by Veryl Oakland. In this edition, Mr. Oakland's photographs and stories feature Art Pepper, Pat Martino and Joe Williams.

Interviews

Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, discusses her late husband’s complex, fascinating life.

Short Fiction

“A Viennese Tale,” a story by Matias Travieso-Diaz, was a finalist in our recently concluded 51st Short Fiction Contest.

In the previous issue

Michael Cuscuna, Mosaic Records co-founder, is interviewed about his successful career as a jazz producer, discographer, and entrepreneur...

Coming Soon

An interview with Nate Chinen, director of editorial content at WBGO Radio, former New York Times jazz writer, and the author of Playing Changes: Jazz in the New Century.

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