Fruit of Our Labor: 2021 Christopher Hewitt Award Winners Announced

As a Vietnamese proverb reminds, “When eating fruit, remember the one who planted the tree.” Christopher Hewitt, who would go on to become the magazine’s first literary editor and for whom we named this contest, appeared in our very first issue (as did current Fiction Editor Raymond Luczak, by the way). As both a contributor and an editor, Chris helped lay the foundation of what would become the premier platform for HIV/AIDS-themed literature. We feel a sense of deep gratitude to Chris, as well as all the writers who shared their work with us over the years. Importantly, we honor those individuals living with HIV/AIDS whose experiences sprout in this creative work—they do or did the work of living that precedes any creative work. Thank you to judges Raymond Luczak, Bruce Ward (Drama Editor), Philip F. Clark (Poetry Editor), and Jay Vithalani (Nonfiction Editor). Thank you as well to all who submitted to the literary contest and to the winners: Carolyn O’Donnell, David Mohan, Christina Robertson, and Paul William Kruse. And, dear reader, as you enjoy the fruits here, remember those who planted the trees.—Chael Needle

“The Blood Husband,” David Mohan (winner)
“In Which I hate my bones,” Ajay Sawant (honorable mention)

Judge: Philip F. Clark, A&U’s Poetry Editor, is the author of The Carnival of Affection (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017). He is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at City College, New York, where he received his MFA in Creative Writing in 2016. His work has been published in Tiferet Journal, The Marsh Hawk Press, Lambda Literary, Vox Populi, The HIV HERE AND NOW Project and (RE): An Ideas Journal, among others.  He recently read as part of the Phosphorescence Poetry Reading Series, hosted by the Emily Dickinson Museum. 

“Once Removed,” Paul William Kruse (winner)
“Blood Spill,” Lee Raines (honorable mention)

Judge: Bruce Ward is A&U’s Drama Editor, and he has been writing about the AIDS epidemic since its inception. His plays, Lazarus Syndrome and Decade: Life in the ’80s, have been produced throughout the U.S. Bruce was the original Director of the CDC National AIDS Hotline, and he was honored by POZ magazine as one of 2015’s POZ 100. You may follow him at:

“The Gift,” Carolyn O’Donnell (winner)
“Little Gods of Desire,” Robert Cataldo (honorable mention)

Judge: Raymond Luczak (Fiction Editor) is the author and editor of twenty-five titles, including Flannelwood (Red Hen Press), once upon a twin (Gallaudet University Press), and Compassion, Michigan: The Ironwood Stories (Modern History Press). His work has appeared in PoetryPrairie Schooner, and elsewhere. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“Again, I Am Left to Wonder,” Christina Robertson (winner)

Judge: Jay Vithalani grew up in Mumbai, India. He studied English and philosophy at Amherst College and Harvard University, and has also done graduate work at the University of Iowa and Boston University. Vithalani is the co-author of a book of industrial history, Horizons: The Tata-India Century. He currently lives in New York City. Vithalani has been living with HIV since 2005. He is the Nonfiction Editor of A&U.

Chael Needle (A&U‘s Managing Editor) has been with A&U for twenty-one years and started the Christopher Hewitt Awards to promote literary responses to HIV/AIDS and to honor A&U‘s first Literary Editor. He coedited, along with Diane Goettel, the anthology Art & Understanding: Literature from the First Twenty Years of A&U. Alongside his editorial and feature work for A&U, he has published his fiction and poetry in Mollyhouse, The Night Heron Barks, Chelsea Station, Callisto, T.R.O.U., Owen Wister Review, Adirondack Review, Blue Fifth Review, Lilliput Review, and bottle rockets, among others. Follow him on Twitter @ChaelNeedle.