The Sewanee Review: 2021 Fiction, Poetry, and Nonfiction Contest Winners

Sewanee Review – This past July, the Sewanee Review held its fourth annual Fiction, Poetry, and Nonfiction contest. This year we received over one-thousand submissions. Today we are pleased to announce the winners.

Judge Brandon Taylor selected Allen Bratton’s short story “Philippa” as the winner for the fiction contest. Taylor calls it “a strange, dark story powered by a crepuscular psychological acuity and sharp dialogue. What will stay with me is the mood of hunger, want, and need that haunts our central character and the wounds of history that still linger. A potent, memorable story from a startling talent.”

“Meeting Ricky Jones” by David McNair was named the runner-up. Taylor writes, “‘Meeting Ricky Jones’ is a sly, patient story about a boy who doesn’t even understand how lonely he is. It’s a story of remarkable tenderness and dexterity, never sentimental and full of surprise. There is such a gift for the unstated here, and the quiet multitudes that fill out depths of our lives.”


A Mental Maze: what we can learn from Tarron Richardson’s brief time as city manager

“It is hard for me to see this as an issue that is so important that his disagreement with Council on this would be a cause for termination or a condition of his continued employment. If it doesn’t rise to that level, we have to let him [Richardson] do his job, even if it means that he rejects Council’s advice.” – City Councilor Llyod Snook, May 2020

When Tarron Richardson became Charlottesville City Manager in May 2019 the local media didn’t seem particularly interested in finding out much about who he was and where he’d come from. A profile by Charlottesville Tomorrow ran a mere 326 words — compared to a 1,350-word piece that introduced current city manager Chip Boyles — and nowhere in that story, or in others by local media, did we learn that Richardson had been the first in his family to get a college degree, or that he had become the first African-American city manager of Desoto, Texas in his 30s, the position he’d held for nearly a decade before coming to Charlottesville. As for Desoto, Texas, no local media pointed out that it was the demographic mirror opposite of Charlottesville — roughly the same population and median income, but with a population that is 68% Black and 17% White. Desoto’s Black and White populations were about the same in 2000, but by 2010 the Texas city had transformed into a majority Black community. As for Charlottesville, its demographics haven’t changed for decades, despite a 13 percent growth in population over the last one, and is roughly 70% White and 20% Black. In fact, the Black population in Charlottesville was larger (22%) in 2000 than it is today. Read more

Title IX Remix: will new rules on sexual harassment & assault investigations serve justice?

Eight months ago I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the US Department of Education for information about a Title IX investigation that was opened at the University of Virginia on April 19, 2019, thinking it might provide information and insight about a process often shrouded in secrecy. Last week, I received a 930-page PDF document about the case from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), longer than any novel I’ve ever read, but it ended up being a short read — all but 9 pages were redacted and blank, and 3 of those pages had had the relevant content removed, 2 were copies, and 2 were consent and procedure forms. What remained were 2 pages with a few sentences from the person filing the complaint and one word confirmation that the complaint was about “sex.”

The person’s name, sex, the date the complaint was filed, who the complaint was against, any kind of account of the incident(s), and whether or not they were a UVA student or employee had all been withheld. Oddly enough, the time of day that the complaint was filed remained: 10:16 pm.

Still, despite all the exceptions cited for disclosure of information on the investigation, despite a 930 page document being reduced to basically a few sentences, the frustration and determination of the person came through.

“I want an end to this ridiculous process,” the person wrote. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to rectify this injustice.” Read more.

Slave Block: historical marker thief disrupts the narrative in Charlottesville

We naturally want what happens in the world [and in our community] to reinforce our notion of reality, to serve as examples of the things we believe in, but the truth, as Oscar Wilde observed, is rarely pure and never simple.

When the historical marker for the slave auction block in Court Square went missing in the early morning hours of February 6, many in Charlottesville were quick to assume they knew what had happened and went on to frame the narrative: racists and white supremacists upset about the effort to remove our Confederate statues clearly stole the plaque. What’s more, some said the police were trying to pin it on anti-racists. More than two years after what’s known here as “A12,” the day nazis and white supremacists terrorized Charlottesville — and local officials and police failed to protect our community — many are still on edge. Read more.

Become a DTM Patreon — Unlock the Power of Truly Independent Local News

Good stuff from what seems to be the best news source in Charlottesville.” — Rick Tetzeli, executive editor, Fast Company Magazine.

“I think we need this. I see very little in-depth coverage from anywhere else.” — DTM follower

Since 2012, The DTM has survived on a small initial fundraising campaign and the efforts and resources of its creator, but now it’s time the take this truly independent local news source to a new level. That’s why I’m asking readers and followers to become DTM Patreons and participate in bringing more powerful in-depth, investigative local reporting to a community that desperately needs it. With just a few hundred patrons we can begin offering quality reporting from the area’s best journalists.

Please become a DTM Patreon today!

Take a look back at a few of the important stories The DTM has produced. With you’re participation we can do so much more.


David McNair (bio)
DTM Editor

Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan..not the brightest bunch

From the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan home page. One danger involved in attending their planned rally here this Saturday, July 8, that hasn’t been discussed: the risk to your mental health being around this much stupid.

“…July 8th in Virginia we will make a stand for our Southern History. They are trying to erase whites and our great culture right out of the history books. The Civil War was not fought over Slavery but over high taxes put on the South by the North. The whites did not make the blacks slaves; their own people captured them and sold them to Jewish merchants and they sold them. Blacks should be thankful because those who did not get sold were ate. People look into this for yourself read a book. If you want to stand with us for our great Confederate dead email us. It is time whites in America unite blacks have the Black Panthers the terrorist group Black Lives Matters. The Mexicans have La Raza and the Jews have the ADL and the S.P.L.C. Whites you have the Loyal White Knights fighting for equal rights for whites. Stand with us July 8th make your stand in Dixie land. Call 336-432-0386…”

Girls Are Now Throwing Punches in Pakistan’s First All-Female Boxing Club

The country ranked as the least gender equitable in the Asia and Pacific region by the World Economic Forum might seem an unlikely place to start a boxing club for young girls. But that’s exactly what’s happening in Lyari, a poor neighborhood in Karachi, Pakistan, with a reputation for gang violence and producing major sports stars. Thirteen girls have formed the country’s first all-female boxing club, proof that while women’s rights in Pakistan may still have a long way to go, some progress is beginning to take shape. READ MORE..

Hotel city: When will Charlottesville get ‘roomier’?

news-norris-mall-2-1On a crisp, bright day in March 2008, a suave-looking guy with long hair and a tailored light-grey suit (no tie) told us at a ground-breaking ceremony that a stylish, luxury “boutique” hotel, complete with a roof-top bar and stunning views of of the southeast mountains, would tower over Central Place on the Downtown Mall. What we got, of course, was an ugly tower of grey concrete rising out of the demolished shell of a bank building, an eyesore on our cityscape since 2009 that has the permanence of a metamorphic rock formation.

In June 2012, another suave-looking guy with short hair and a tailored blue suit (no tie) again told us that the abandoned tower would indeed become a luxury hotel, as soon as he finished a similar hotel in Charleston, South Carolina. Around the same time we were also told by a West Virginia developer that a seven-story Marriott extended-stay Residence Inn would be rising up at the corner of West Main Street and Ridge/McIntire in the spaces occupied by Random Row Books and City Clay.

The new Marriott appears to be on track, as City Clay, Random Row Books, and the other businesses on the property have left the premises, but you’ll have to excuse us if we remain a bit skeptical.

However, according to the state tourism board, there is a shortage of hotel rooms in Charlottesville, while demand for them has been rising. In the coming years, they say, based on the many accolades and “best places” designations bestowed upon us, people – lots of them – will be coming. Maybe these hotel developers know something we don’t.


COVER- King of the Road: The unstoppable Wendell Wood

A few weeks ago, we contacted developer Wendell Wood to ask if he would respond to rumors that he was building a palatial mansion in Southern Albemarle County. When he called back, he didn’t want to talk about his house, though he neither confirmed nor denied the rumors. He just changed the subject.

“Why would you want to write about some house I’m building?” he said. “The real story is the expansion around NGIC and how it’s going to bring 1,500 new jobs to the area. Now that’s a story.”

Wood offered instead to show us his new 122,000-square-foot high-security office building adjacent to NGIC, the National Ground Intelligence Center, on Route 29, which he plans to lease to the federal government when the new structure is completed in March. As is often the case with big developments, getting approval on the project was not easy.

As is also often the case, Wood got his way.

For four decades the developer has been buying up land and, as he puts it, “making things happen” along 29 North in a kind of real estate chess match that has become his life’s work. Wood uses a simpler analogy, comparing land buying to eating a pie.

“You take one piece, then you come back and take another, then another,” he says, “but it’s that last piece of pie that is the most valuable.”

But he’s clearly oversimplifying; he has had a hand in developing nearly everything familiar along 29 North, from the the Barracks Road Shopping Center to Fashion Square Mall, Wal-Mart to the Hollymead Town Center, and the NGIC, to name just a few. And it has made him rich. In 2001, Virginia Business Magazine listed him as one of the 50 wealthiest people in Virginia with a net worth of $160 million. MORE

Poet to Architect: Remaking the way we see things

In 1996, when poet Lisa Williams began working for architect William McDonough and German chemist Michael Braungart as they wrote their book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, she didn’t know much about environmentalism or ecology. All that was about to change. As Williams helped craft the language of the book, its ideas about the creative processes of nature and how humans can redesign industries using nature as a model began to ignite her imagination.

“I was tremendously inspired by their revelatory description of nature,” says Williams, a former MFA student at UVA, who now teaches poetry at Centre College in Kentucky, “as well as by particular images and pieces of information I came across.”

Cradle to Cradle goes far beyond the idea of recycling and reuse, advocating instead for the complete elimination of waste in the manufacturing process– its title is a take on “cradle-to-grave analysis,” the study of a product’s life-cycle. For example, the book itself is “treeless,” made of a polypropylene synthetic that looks and feels like paper, and which can be as easily recycled as a yogurt container.

In essence, the book embodies its premise– that designers can create products, manufacturing systems, buildings, and developments that mine the intelligent designs of nature– such as nutrient recycling and the unique power of the sun– to allow commerce and nature to benefit from each other. Read more