DIAJ AWARD WINNERS
At the end of each year, Door Is A Jar Magazine honors two contributors that best represented the year's submissions. Anyone who submits work to Door is a Jar Magazine has a chance at winning this award.
The 2018 winners of the DIAJ Award are Bill Wolak and Nora Seilheimer. Both displayed exceptional craft. The art and nonfiction they submitted exerted a kind of power that moves and intrigues our readers. The standard of accessibility that we look for when judging this award, goes hand in hand with one of our core values — the value of making our publication open and available to everyone.
Bill Wolak has just published his fifteenth book of poetry entitled The Nakedness Defense with Ekstasis Editions. His collages have appeared recently in Naked in New Hope 2017, The 2017 Seattle Erotic Art Festival, Poetic Illusion, The Riverside Gallery, Hackensack, NJ, the 2018 Dirty Show in Detroit, and 2018 The Rochester Erotic Arts Festival.
Another Interrupted Dream
by Bill Wolak
Nora Seilheimer is a Michigander and nonfiction MFA candidate at University of New Orleans. She lives in New Orleans with her husband, two cats, and dog where she is the Associate Editor of Bayou Magazine and teaches a weekly yoga class to female inmates at Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office. She taught Special Education and English in Chicago Public Schools for six years. Her work is published or forthcoming in Midwestern Gothic, Longleaf Review, Memoir Mixtapes and Longridge Review. You can also find her on Twitter @nslhmr
by Nora Seilheimer
I remember our student, a Senior, who let a bullet live in his upper right arm. We stood in the windowless hallway just outside my English classroom during a passing period. Inside I’d written 137 days until graduation! on the dry erase board with the only marker that hadn’t dried out. In the hall hundreds of students in khaki pants and maroon polos that matched our student’s swarmed around us, each one boasting a gold “M” over their hearts. They all shouted, teased, and laughed like other teenagers across Chicago might have, but their voices were competing with the Cops theme song crackling through the PA system. The Principal thought music would motivate students to get to class on time.
Our student pulled his sleeve up to his shoulder to show me the bullet, proud. It looked smaller than I expected, the size of a shoreline pebble passed over for bigger stones that skip across the water’s surface. You wanna move it around? He pinched his brown skin that stretched around the bullet’s smooth shape. He watched me as he demonstrated, sliding it half an inch toward his shoulder and then back toward his elbow like the sound booth technician working the knobs trying to find the perfect level of bass. I tried not to wince.
No, thank you. Looks like it hurts. He shook his head and tucked his Chemistry textbook under his arm. Nah, it only hurt going in. I tried not to wince again.
Why don’t you have it taken out? It must bother you. He stood up a little taller, using all of his six feet and four inches to break eye contact and look beyond me. The Cops theme song filled a short silence. It’s my battle wound, he explained. They weren’t aiming for me.
He’d been shot while walking home from school, a stray bullet with someone else’s name on it. Coach had let them out of practice later than usual that night. They’d been running sprints for missed free throws at the game the night before, something about accountability. Our student was the Captain, so he didn’t complain and kept running until someone told him to stop. His fatigued quadriceps and hamstrings have since released lactic acid and recovered. His sweat, evaporated. The bullet remains.
Our student looked back at me, smiled with one side of his mouth, and offered a quick shrug. Lyrics asked bad boys whatcha gonna do when they come for you — but our student wasn’t a bad boy. None of our students are bad boys.
The warning bell rang. One minute left. The hallway buzz grew louder. Gotta go, Ms. Seilheimer. He curled one hand around my shoulder and leaned toward me, speaking softly. And don’t worry. I’m gonna be alright.
2017: Betsy Jenifer, Lauren Scharhag
2016: Valerie Westmark, Drew Pisarra