One of the three…

by Robin Huiras

One of the three major awards recognizing American authors of short fiction was bestowed upon University Regents’ Professor Patricia Hampl.
Hampl’s short story, “The Bill Collector’s Vacation,” became a part of the Pushcart Prize Anthology last week. The piece originally appeared in the literary journal Ploughshares in fall 1997.
“The award is a wonderful thing to happen,” Hampl said, director of the creative writing program. “It gives the story a second life.”
The prize annually recognizes authors of contemporary fiction in the forms of essays, short stories and poems.
“The prize is awarded to writers whose work has been published in journals and literary magazines,” said Leslie Cooney, coordinator of the creative writing program.
The award doesn’t fit the definitions of a prize; it is mostly an honor, Hampl said.
In its 23rd year, more than 1,200 authors were nominated for the award. The 68 winning pieces will be compiled into an anthology, “The Pushcart Prize XXII: Best of the Small Presses.”
The scope of the nominations is limited to pieces that have appeared in literary publications rather than commercial publications. The works are nominated by readers before going through a judging process, Hampl said.
In addition to the new life for her story, the award bestows a star on Hampl’s literary forehead, she said.
For Hampl, the newest award caps a long history of success while at the University.
After graduating from the University in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in English, Hampl received a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Iowa. In 1982, she returned to the University as a professor in the English department teaching creative writing.
“Patricia was hired at the University because she was an accomplished writer,” said Shirley Garner, chairwoman of the English department.” She is one of the main strengths of the creative writing department.”
Hampl is widely published throughout the United States. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, American Poetry Review and the Los Angeles Times, among others.
In addition to the Pushcart Prize Anthology, she has won two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in poetry and nonfiction, Garner said.