The J.F. Powers Prize for Short Fiction

In 2014, Dappled Things began accepting submissions for the first installment of the J.F. Powers Prize for Short Fiction. We received a tremendous response, drawing in around 400 submissions. After much deliberation, our panel of judges—Matthew Lickona, Andrew McNabb, and Eve Tushnet—have selected ten outstanding stories from an impressive pool of contenders. The winner will receive $500 and be published in the Easter 2014 edition of Dappled Things, while the other seven honorable mentions will be published throughout the year. We are delighted to share with you the judges’ announcement of their selections for the 2014 J.F. Powers Prize for Short Fiction:

Winner: “Where Moth and Rust” by Kristin Luehr

IMG_3710bWhere Moth and Rust is our pick as winner of the 2014 J.F. Powers Prize for Short Fiction.  This painful, yet hopeful story is about family dynamics, about leaving and returning home, about the baggage we carry with us, and, ultimately, about the underlying power of love.  With a writing style that was taut yet portentous, and with a keen eye for unusual detail, the writer brought us into the lives of an ordinary family in the devastated landscape of rural Nebraska.  It was this very landscape, in fact, that was a character itself, and made the story’s notes of hope all the more powerful.  We were impressed.

Kristin Luehr currently lives in Nairobi, Kenya, where she teaches high school English at an international school. She has previously taught for the University of Northwestern–St. Paul, and she received her MFA in creative writing from Roosevelt University.

We would also like to say that the other finalists were also impressive, each in their own way.  We had a raucous time arriving at these additional nine stories.  From revivalist preachers to very human priests, from wish-granters to drug-takers, this was an excellent batch.  Congratulations all the way around.


Honorable Mentions


“Burning the Guns” by Maura Stanton
“God Beyond Limbo” by Chad Arnold
“Godhead” by Katy Darby
“Mouth to Mouth” by Sally Bellerose
“Revival” by Tony Woodlief
“Scent of Spring” by Margaret DeAngelis
“Time Will Not Dim” by Rafael Alvarez




Matthew Lickona
Eve Tushnet
Andrew McNabb

Please check back soon for more information about the prize winners. We want to extend a big thank you to all who submitted their work. We were delighted to see such an abundance of quality stories, and we look forward to reading more of your writing in next year’s prize.

About the J.F. Powers Prize for Short Fiction


“One foot in this world and one in the next”: that’s how J.F. Powers described the Midwestern priests he wrote about in his fiction. Having one foot in another world can be awkward, and Powers’ characters are known not for their graceful mysticism, but for the humiliating and mordantly entertaining stumbles they make while trying to live their faith. We’re looking for carefully crafted short stories with vivid characters who encounter grace in everyday settings—we want to see who, in the age we live in, might have one foot in this world and one in the next.

Submissions to the next edition of the prize will open in June 2014.

Click here to make your submission and see the writer’s guidelines.

The 2014 Prize Judges

Matthew Lickona is a staff writer and film critic for the San Diego Reader, a weekly newspaper. He is the author of the memoir Swimming with Scapulars, as well as the historical fiction Surfing with Mel and the first two issues of the Alphonse comic book series. He lives with his family in La Mesa, California.

Andrew McNabb’s short-story collection, The Body of This, was published to great acclaim in 2009.  He lives in Portland, Maine.

Eve Tushnet is a writer in Washington, DC. She was received into the Catholic Church in 1998. She has written for The Atlantic, The American Conservative, Commonweal, the New York Times Room for Debate blog, the Washington Post Beliefblog, and the Weekly Standard, among other publications.



I think it’s possible to write something, for me to write something, that even God might like. It’s possible for me to hit a note, to get in a mood, to write something that is worthy even of God’s attention. Not as a soul seeking salvation, but just as entertainment for God. This may be blasphemous to say, but I believe it. I don’t think God is there and we’re here, and there are no connections. I think there are connections, and I think art is certainly one.        

- J. F. Powers