Hard Work Pays Off

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Local writers honored with Porter Fleming Literary Awards

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Valerie Emerick

Three authors from the CSRA have been distinguished as Porter Fleming Literary Award recipients in this year’s competition.
The 2013 Porter Fleming Literary Competition is now in its 20th year of rewarding outstanding writing in the Southeast and recognizes talented writers who reside in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. It was established in 1993 by Shirley Fleming to honor her late father, noted author and artist Berry Fleming. It is funded by the Porter Fleming Foundation, which is administered by the Trustees of the Academy of Richmond County. The contest is organized and directed by the Morris Museum of Art.
This year, the foundation awarded $7,000 in cash across four categories: non-fiction, fiction, poetry and one-act play. In each category, money is awarded to first, second and third place winners.
Taking the third place prize in the non-fiction category is Karl Fornes, a professor from Aiken. His work, “Lake Effect,” is based on his own true-life experience, a sort of short memoir chronicling the first Christmas after Fornes’ mother passed away. It tells the story about the 2001 visit Fornes and his wife made to his father’s house during which there was a major snowstorm, Fornes said. Seven feet of snow fell over the course of four days, leaving everyone stranded at the author’s father’s house.
As a teacher, Fornes said he has been writing most of his life, but it is only in recent years that he has begun submitting works for publication. This is the second or third year that he has submitted works to the Porter Fleming Competition, Fornes said.
“[Winning the award] gives you a little courage to keep pressing forward to a certain extent,” Fornes said. “But writing is hard.”
Fornes added that the Porter Fleming Competition is a nice contest and that he really appreciates the Porter Fleming Foundation and the Morris Museum for sponsoring it.
“It’s nice to have those sorts of entities supporting the arts,” he said.
In the one-act play category, Jonathan Cook of Martinez won third place for his piece titled “Reflections.” This is Cook’s second time since 2010 winning a third place award in the competition for playwriting, and he said that he hopes if he keeps writing and submitting works in the future, that one day he will receive a first place award from Porter Fleming.
In the meantime, “Reflections,” a supernatural mystery story involving a couple and their account of events leading up to their daughter going missing, is receiving attention in other arenas, as well, Cook said.
“The play that won third place in Porter Fleming was performed in D.C. back in June at the Source Festival,” Cook said. “And because I was accepted with my short play this year, they sent me an invite for next year for a full-length play.”
Edward Wilson, of Augusta won the second place award in poetry for “Kite,” which, as the name implies, is a personification of a kite. This is Wilson’s second Porter Fleming award. His poem “Oyster” won first place in the 2011 Porter Fleming literary competition. Wilson said he’s always been a poet and wrote his first in high school. Since then, he has taught at numerous institutions and has had his works published several anthologies.
“I think the Fleming prize is really a remarkable thing,” Wilson said. “It’s a very good thing for the community. It’s really been a boost for writers from the Southeast. That prize is right up in the top ranks of prizes, both in terms of the money and the recognition as it is becoming more and more well known.”
The competition culminates in brunch ceremony to be held at 11 a.m. at the Morris Museum on Sunday, October 6, in conjunction with the Westobou Festival.

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