This issue of New Delta Review (NDR) features the winners of the 2012 Matt Clark Prize in Fiction and Poetry and Creative Nonfiction Contest. This contest is in honor of Matt Clark, a coordinator of creative writing at Louisiana State University that died from colon cancer at the age of thirty-one. “Fascinated by tall tales and urban legends, Matt was in the process of inventing a new kind of Southwest magical realism, part Mark Twain, part Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In his honor, NDR sponsors the Matt Clark Prize in fiction and poetry.”
The fiction winner is Lydia Ship with “Black Dog Nothing,” which reveals the ways in which a young girl copes with her brother having schizophrenia: escaping to a strict Christian college, developing an eating disorder, and continuing the story of Jack-Jack, the family’s made-up dog. The story begins:
There once was a black creature, like a lamb, like a cosmos, Jack-Jack. He couldn’t speak, but carried the soul of a sick boy, keeping watch over it.
This is how all my stories begin.
Jack-Jack had not become the boy incarnate, but qualities erupting from the boy’s soul touched Jack-Jack like heated hands. He was the boy, and he was not the boy. He was a woman, and not a woman.
“Swollen parts: known as succulence” by Mg Roberts is the winner of the poetry prize, and E.E.W. Christman takes the prize in creative nonfiction with “Me and His Old Lady.” Christman goes on spring break with her boyfriend, not to a beach as she would have liked but, to her boyfriend’s old friend’s house for as ski trip. What makes this piece endearing is the comical references to pop culture including Ghostbusters, Lord of the Rings, and Marlon Brando.
The rest of this issue is filled with poetry, art, a book review, and another piece of creative nonfiction titled “The Philosophy of We’re All Gonna Die” by Robin Becker. Christina Yu’s prose poem titled “Learning About the Neighbors Above Us” comically deals with the way the characters cannot live their life normally because of the way that they can hear everything that goes on in the apartment above them: “The noises are very disruptive, but how can we complain? What would we say? That they live too loudly?” Also check out Brad Johnson’s “Rubber Rain Boots,” Emily Grise’s “The Rabbit,” and Bridget Talone’s “Like a Barracuda, You Are,” among others.
Produced by graduate students in the MFA program in creative writing at Louisiana State University, NDR is an easily navigable and easy-to-read magazine that contributes original and fresh writing to the literary world.