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You're All Winners
September 1, 2010 - 10:45am


But in my shop, only three entries in the “Write Your Heaven” contest could be chosen, on the basis of originality, wordcraft, and evocativeness.

Congratulations to:

Connie Corzilius Spasser

Heaven is
the anteroom
the dim shop on the narrow street
shelves of books and potions
the walk under branches
humming with portent

Heaven is
the capsule held between the teeth
forever, the high heel dangling
from the toe
the stoppered bottle
the gleaming bar

Heaven is
solitude pitched
on the edge of company
a room with doors
to other rooms you didn’t
suspect were there

Heaven is
the waiting



Heaven for this adjunct would be contracts of more than a semester or a year, with no phrase like "this offer is contingent upon ...." in it, for twice what my contract in this vale of tears pays per course, i.e. for the same amount full-time colleagues in my program make for teaching the exact same courses that my so-called part-time colleagues and I teach. In adjunct heaven there'd be professional respect for us as well, with clear evaluation procedures tied to career advancement, health-insurance and retirement benefits and roomy offices for all, full of air and light, and our students too would love us and what we teach as we have always loved them.


And Lillian:

The first that comes to mind is a heaven where in lime green Bermuda shorts, bikini top, and with a bandanna tied under my bangs, I'm barefoot carving a longboard down a just-paved summertime street.


A note on the judging, which was performed by rascals who will all probably wind up in law school one day: Of the 23 entries, three had to be disqualified for missing the deadline. (Sorry, folks, but they’re future lawyers, what could I do?) The rest were difficult to choose from.

Boots McGee was deemed self-disqualified, though I found his or her entry delightfully Churmish in its play on Sartre:

Heaven is other people. (Naw, just foolin'.)

Kaaren Kitchell didn’t win because we were all just too jealous of what she apparently already has:

Heaven is living in our apartment in Paris with Richard: writing in the morning; exploring in the afternoon; seeing friends at night (or reading great fiction, watching a great film).

Forget Paris; Richard’s heaven enough.

Carl Newman’s bonfire “fed by all the report cards and bills one collects in life” was a nice image but the judges pictured him dancing around the blaze in a devil’s outfit purchased from The Costume Supercenter.

Tim Sheraden wins the special Twinge of Nausea Award for his second of two entries:

The womb is Heaven .... dark, warm, protective, devoid of self-awareness, and temporal. Hell is what happens after you've been forced out of Heaven.

Sadly, Tim, the Twinge Award comes with no prize, but, you know, eww and well done.


Winners should e-mail me at with their snail addresses to claim their prizes. Please list your order of preference for the books, and I’ll make it work if I can.

Thanks to everyone who entered, to my ringer friends who provided their heavens as examples, and to Yale University Press, Princeton University Press, and Dalkey Archive Press for the most excellent prizes.


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