SOURCE: Green Mountain Power

Green Mountain Power

August 19, 2010 16:24 ET

Essex Junction Woman Wins Ralph Nading Hill Writing Contest

COLCHESTER, VT--(Marketwire - August 19, 2010) - Jane C. Graiko of Essex Junction, Vermont, is the winner of the 2010 Ralph Nading Hill, Jr. Literary Prize awarded annually by Green Mountain Power and Vermont Life magazine.

Ms. Graiko's winning story, titled "Heart Sounds," is a first person account of a woman in a coma, struggling to understand her situation through brief periods of perception. "My head throbs, neck aches, toes tingle. My fingers feel solid and unbending like lower branches on a 60-year-old oak. Bits and pieces of conversations float around me and I discern that I -- builder of rock walls, planter of vegetable gardens, and gatherer of winter's wood -- have for days or weeks been considered touch and go. But what did I touch and where did I go?"

The reader slowly learns what has happened through her confused memories of a car, a deer and walking in the woods, with a disastrous result.

Mary Hegarty Nowlan, one of the judges and editor of Vermont Life, commented, "Ms. Graiko's submission was selected as the winner because it was a very moving tale not only of a woman's struggle to emerge from a coma, but ultimately of the love between a grandmother and granddaughter. Ms. Graiko's creative approach to telling her story caught the attention of all the judges."

At the University of Vermont, where she has worked since 1986, Ms. Graiko coordinates an academic-based scholarship program for first generation college students with limited financial resources. She has been writing since age 10 and has extensive non-fiction credits, but this is her first published fiction. Ms. Graiko began her career as a reporter for the Syracuse Post Standard and also worked for Stone & Webster, writing newsletters and press releases. Ms. Graiko began her life in Rhode Island, but has lived in Vermont longer than any other place.

"Heart Sounds" appears in the fall issue of Vermont Life, which is now available in bookstores and on newsstands.

Ms. Graiko will receive a $1,500 prize for the short story. The literary prize is named for the late Ralph Nading Hill, Jr., a Vermont historian and writer and long-time member of Green Mountain Power's Board of Directors.

This is the 21st year that the Ralph Nading Hill Literary Prize has encouraged writers in Vermont and it is now considered by Vermont writers to be one of the state's premier literary prizes. Entries may include essays, short stories and poetry.

The selection was made by an independent panel of judges: Mary Hegarty Nowlan, editor of Vermont Life; Tom Slayton, past editor of Vermont Life; Tony Marro, retired executive editor of Newsday; Alison Freeland, a 1994 winner of the Ralph Nading Hill, Jr., award for her story, "Shadbush"; Brian Vachon, retired vice president of communications at National Life of Vermont and a former Vermont Life editor; and Steve Terry, retired Green Mountain Power senior executive. 

The deadline for entries for this year's contest is November 15, 2010. The contest is open to all Vermont residents, including seasonal residents and college students enrolled in Vermont colleges. Entrants may be amateur or professional writers. The focus of the work must be "Vermont -- Its People, the Place, Its History or Its Values." Entries must be unpublished and less than 1,500 words long. Staff of Vermont Life or Green Mountain Power and previous winners are ineligible. Send entries to the Corporate Relations Department of Green Mountain Power, 163 Acorn Lane, Colchester, VT 05446.