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2022 Hudson Prize Winner : JoeAnn Hart

 

We’re so pleased to announce that we have chosen a winner for the 2022 Hudson Prize. A big, heartfelt congratulations goes to JoeAnn Hart for winning the prize with her short story collection Highwire Act & Other Tales of Survival. Congratulations also  to this year’s finalists and semi-finalists. Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2022 Hudson Prize!

JoeAnn Hart is the author of the memoir Stamford ’76: A True Story of Murder, Corruption, Race, and Feminism in the 1970s (University of Iowa Press). Her novels are Float (Ashland Creek Press) a dark comedy about plastics in the ocean, and Addled (Little, Brown) a social satire. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in a wide range of literary publications, including the Future Tense column of Slate.com, the anthology Among Animals 3, the anthology Fire & Water: Stories From the Anthropocene, Orion, The Hopper, Prairie Schooner, The Sonora Review, Terrain.org, the anthology Black Lives Have Always Mattered, and others. Her work often explores the relationship between humans and their environments. She lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts with her husband and a mixed bag of rescue livestock. Highwire Act & Other Tales of Survival is her first story collection.  

 


Excerpt from “Flying Home”


 

Over the next few days the red-tail and the crows became her entertainment as she struggled to breathe, giving her something to think about other than cement lungs. The hawk showed up on the rod at least once a day, but she never knew when to expect it. The crows were a constant, noisy presence but were rarely in flight where she could see them. Sparrows, who were thugs in their own right, often flew by in intimidating masses. Sometimes she felt the place was a little over-birded, but they were visitors after all, something not allowed otherwise. Her son and his family came once, at a prearranged time, and the nursing staff helped her to a wheelchair so she could wave at them from the window. It was exhausting for everyone. Dave held little Bennie in his arms and pointed at her window, which was certainly too far up for them to see anything other than a shadow. His wife Betsy was with them, which was alarming. She must really be sick if her daughter-in-law felt she should come along. They stood between the dumpster and a white refrigerated trailer and waved while the crows looked down on them from the budding cottonwood trees, impatient to return. The birds bobbed their heads and flew from limb to limb, making the branches bounce as if the weight of elephants had been lifted. She looked over the crows and beyond the hospital wing to the foothills and the snow-capped Rockies in the distance. When was the last time she even noticed the mountains?

When she looked back down at her family, they seemed so small. Her only child, her only grandchild. Small, vulnerable mammals. Sometimes she wondered if humans had any purpose at all. Keith, her ex-husband, had said we were here to protect the earth but that made no sense. From what she could tell, the earth needed to be protected from us. In fact, she didn’t see where humans fit anywhere in what he called the great web of life. We devoured everything but seemed to be no one’s primary food source anymore, unless you counted the virus. In which case, we were toast.