Third Time’s a Charm: College of Liberal Arts Awards Keene Prize for Literature to Michener Center Graduate Student

FIONA PHOTOFiona McFarlane, a Michener Center for Writers (MCW) graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin, has won the $50,000 Keene Prize for Literature for her story, “A Fortunate Man.”

The Keene Prize is one of the world’s largest student literary prizes. An additional $50,000 will be divided among three finalists.

McFarlane was a finalist in 2010 and again in 2011. This year she has finally taken the big prize. Her short story “A Fortunate Man” was chosen from more than 60 submissions in drama, poetry and fiction.

“The story demonstrates her talent for original characterization, vivid and sensuous description and subtle irony,” said Elizabeth Butler Cullingford, chair of the Department of English and the award selection committee. “All the judges praised her immaculately spare and elegant prose.”

McFarlane, who is graduating from MCW this spring, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Sydney, Australia, and her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, England. Her work has appeared in a number of literary journals, including Best Australian Stories, Missouri Review, Zoetrope, and Dossier. In 2010 she won The Missouri Review Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize, and last month she won the Roy Crane Award for the Literary Arts. She is currently working on a novel.

In addition to McFarlane, the three finalists are:

Carolina Ebeid, MCW graduate, for her masterly collection of poems, “Small Beauty of the Forest.” Ebeid was also a finalist in 2011.

Corinne Greiner, graduate of the New School for Writers in the university’s Department of English, for her vivid and compelling creative nonfiction piece, “Blood Holler.”

Corey Miller, first year master of fine arts student at the MCW, for his witty and direct collection of poems, “How we say I love you in coal country.”

Members of the 2008 selection committee were: Cullingford; Randy Diehl, dean of the College of Liberal Arts (ex officio); Brant Pope, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance; Dave Hamrick, director of The University of Texas Press; and Tom Zigal, novelist and speechwriter for The University of Texas System.

Established in 2006 in the College of Liberal Arts, the Keene Prize is named after E.L. Keene, a 1942 graduate of the university, who envisioned an award that would enhance and enrich the university’s prestige and support the work of young writers. Students submit poetry, plays and fiction or non-fiction prose.