Writing Contest: Intro — Living words in a suspended world

"Writers aren't people exactly. Or if they are any good, they're a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person." — F. Scott Fitzgerald (photo from the Bruccoli Collection)

For me, it started long before I understood what writing actually was. I only knew, at 4 years old, that I was disappointed that the pink record player under the Christmas tree wasn’t a typewriter.

Maybe the 100-plus entrants in the 2020 Pasatiempo Writing Contest — who hailed from all over Northern New Mexico — have similar stories. Maybe not. But over and over, we saw ambition, skill, and the courage to put their work into the public eye.

Every year, the judges report that the writing is better, more interesting, and more compelling. And this year is no different. Perhaps not surprisingly, the winners explored some similar themes: CoViD, war, death, nostalgia, isolation, and the nature of reality. Love.

One judge called the first-place winner in teen poetry “a despairing portrait of someone who no longer recognizes herself. Several lines stand out for exhibiting an astute use of language that really packs a punch and drives the message home in a blunt way that makes the author’s pain feel authentic.”

Regarding the adult nonfiction winner’s entry, another judge called it a “propulsive, insightful writing sample,” adding that “this stirring depiction of the Vietnam War is filled with atmospheric specifics that make the story both intense and readable. It also paints a vivid picture of a moment in time.”

On the winner of adult fiction: “In contrast to many of the other entries, which harked back to a time long before the challenges of 2020, this writer culled a view of a full life tamped down by the strictures of the pandemic. It is an intimate and compellingly human tale of the struggle and rewards of life in a bell jar.”

This yearr, the winning entries are accompanied by photos and quotes from noted writers who may have started, like the winners, with a yearning to capture life in words that would continue to haunt readers, no matter how long ago they were written.

Finally, the works here presented are as we received them, with the exception of minor edits for clarity. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

— Tracy Mobley-Martinez, Pasatiempo editor

2020 Pasatiempo Writing Contest Winners

(1) comment

Kathy Fish

Links to view winners are incorrect - please update! Congrats to the winners!

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