Lucy Ferriss


I've called this blog "Travelin' Thoughts" in the past, because I kept it mostly as a journal to record impressions of new places and cultures. But in a way, it's still a place for traveling thoughts--ideas that move through and past me, and out into the world. Some of these are literary, some just about life. It's a good place to open up the conversation, and I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Bright Horses & Foreign Climes

March 04, 2020

I know, I know -- last time you checked in, my collection Foreign Climes was a top finalist for the Jordan Prize. So why I am announcing it as the winner of the Brighthorse Books Prize? Well, February was an exciting month. While I waited for the judge to make her final decision on the Jordan Prize, I traveled to north Vermont to sing world music with Village Harmony, a group I have loved for years. One morning between breakfast and Corsican paghjella, I checked my email and found notes from the redoubtable writers and editors Jonis Agee and Brent Spencer, informing me that I had been awarded the Brighthorse Prize. I was very happy to accept it, kept my mini-laurel as a finalist in the Jordan competition (Michelle Herman has now won that award, for her novel Close-Up -- Congratulations, Michelle!), and spent the rest of the weekend singing my lungs out.

Brighthorse is a new press out of the Midwest devoted to publishing books "that contribute to and honor literary culture." They publish high-quality books on demand, meaning that you never have to worry about going out of stock or keeping a moldering supply in your attic. I know they will do a beautiful job producing and distributing my stories. Some of you have read a few of those fictions. Here's what I had to say about them in my response to Brighthorse's questionnaire:

How far do we have to travel to come face to face with ourselves? Foreign Climes is a collection linked by place, or more exactly the strangeness of new places, new territories both geographical and psychological. It proceeds from a young person's sense of boundaries to an older person's breaking through boundaries -- and then beyond, to a voice that constructs the world by way of possibilities both found and left unexplored.

Some of these take their protagonists literally to strange, unsteady ground. A teenaged narrator travels from leafy North Carolina to the desert to engage in battle against a boy he calls "Minnesota," a stand-in for his parents' dissolving marriage. A Young Pashtun woman from northern Pakistan finds herself in cold New England amid the overwhelming landscape of her own desire. An American working abroad struggles to find her place in a relationship that seems unbound by language.

Other stories encounter alienation closer to home. A swaggering poker shark confronts a brutality unleashed by the exploitive nature of his world. A woman leaving her marriage finds an entire life in the lineaments of a house she'll never inhabit. A mother crosses a chasm to reach a son steeped in mania.

"People don't change," the poety Charles Olsen wrote. "They only stand more revealed." These stories reveal the heart and the potential of the people within them by thrusting them into those places of discomfort and exhilaration that leave us all naked before the world.

And with that, I'm off to the world of AWP, the Associated Writing Programs, which is holding its convention despite coronavirus in San Antonio, Texas. I'll be chairing a panel on "The Zeno's Paradox of Scene Writing and Other Strategies for Teaching Fiction." Looking forward to big skies.

Back to blog

Sign up to receive occasional email

I'll send you a copy of a new story I'm working on--and after that, one or two updates a year when I have news to share.

To prevent spam...
What month comes before July?