Sparks Postdoc Reading ft. Austyn Wohlers


Location: 232 Decio Commons

Sparks Prize 2023 1

The Creative Writing Series invites you to come and listen to a reading from 2022 Sparks Prize winner: Austyn Wohlers. 

The Sparks Prize is annually awarded to a distinguished graduate of the Creative Writing Program as a post-graduation year of residency and writing time, funded by Nicholas Sparks and judged by an external writer. Based on the quality of writing and the likelihood that the submission will be published or will be developed into a publishable book.

2022 Sparks Prize Judge Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint selected Wohlers' Hothouse Bloom as the winning entry. Myint writes:

"The climatic, or crisis moment in what I read of Hothouse Bloom hinges not on action, or speech, or even thought, but on a radical attempt to nonverbalize experience, to discard language. Radical, on the part of the protagonist, Alessandra, but even more so on the part of the author, who has to give language to what language cannot touch. Hothouse Bloom begins inside a fog, “opaque and thistle gray,” and though this fog, in which violence may or may not have occurred, eventually lifts, its memory lingers throughout the novel—quietly, calmly, and uneasily. The narration—with its short, declarative sentences and precise, clean metaphors—recedes into and emerges from view, like breath rising and falling, like Alessandra herself, as she merges and separates from the orchard, which is both a physical site, and a state of consciousness. I had the impression reading this novel that I was viewing an impressionist painting, or occupying the liminal state between sleep and wakefulness. I did not want to break my gaze, or to wake up."

Austyn Wohlers is a writer from Atlanta, currently living in Baltimore. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Kenyon ReviewThe Massachusetts ReviewAsymptote, Joyland, The Cincinnati Review, The Columbia Review, Rain Taxi, The Florida Review, The Yalobusha Review and elsewhere. She has received support on her novel-in-progress from the Tin House Summer Workshop and the Sewanee Writers' Workshop. She is also a musician.