The story: "Clover" is a story about a lonely teacher, the power of words and the value of human connection.
What were you doing then: My son was playing in the high school state championship baseball tournament, and I had just returned from his game when I got the call.
What are you up to now: I'm in the exact middle of a sabbatical from my job teaching at the Latin School of Chicago. I'm the writer-in-residence at Roosevelt University. I just finished the first draft of a novel and am revising an earlier novel.
What the award meant: I still can't believe I won the Algren award. I immediately thought of the first writing class I took at DePaul University. Anne Calcagno was the teacher and she had us read the award winners from 1999. We read David Michael Kaplan's "Bamboo" and Kevin Brockmeier's "Apples" (which was an Algren Award finalist in 1999). Those stories stunned me. I wanted to do to readers what those stories had done to me.
Winning the Algren award put me on a list with writers I have long admired. I still feel like a bit of an impostor to be on that list. It makes me want to work harder at studying the craft and growing as a writer in order to deserve it.
Jeremy T. Wilson
"Everything Is Going to Be Okay," 2012
The story: A mysterious visit from his sister causes Doug and his wife, Maria, to confront the anxiety surrounding their impending parenthood.
What were you doing then: Specifically, I was in my office at home when I got a call from Elizabeth Taylor telling me I'd won. I don't remember exactly what I was doing at the time, but after the call I think I was dancing. More generally, I was doing the same things I'm doing now: writing and teaching.
What are you up to now: I'm a tutor and writing teacher for several Chicago organizations, including 826CHI, After School Matters and Northwestern University's School of Continuing Studies.
What the award meant: Winning the Nelson Algren Award was a tremendous honor and inspiration. Writing can be filled with a lot of rejection and self doubt, so I think more than anything, winning this award helped boost my confidence. It's probably still too early to assess how the award has helped my career, but it's certainly given me enough of a charge to power through the more difficult spells.
→B.H. Friedman: "Duplex," 1983
→Patricia MacInnes: "Angle of Incidence," 1987
→Thomas Barbash: "Howling at the Moon," 1991
→Melissa Bank: "Mr. Wilson and Dennis the Menace," 1993
→Cammie McGovern: "Jenny," 1994
→June Unjoo Yang: "Laundry," 2002
→Kevin Moffett: "Space," 2005
Come talk fiction with past Algren winners
Join past Algren Award winners in kicking off the 2013 contest with an evening focusing on the process of creative writing. Tribune literary editor Elizabeth Taylor will talk with David Michael Kaplan, Billy Lombardo, Joe Meno and Jeremy T. Wilson. Their work, along with that of other Algren Award winners, has appeared in Printers Row Fiction. 7 p.m., Wednesday, Tribune Tower, 435 N. Michigan Ave.; $15.