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Whitefish Review Takes Flight

The literary journal’s 26th edition, called ‘Taking Flight,’ features an inaugural humor contest, fiction, art, poetry and more

By Maggie Dresser

Building off last year’s metamorphism theme, Whitefish Review launched its 26th issue “Taking Flight” in July, featuring poetry, essays, short stories, art and an inaugural humor contest.

“‘Taking Flight’ is coming out of the cocoon of sorts,” Brian Schott, the literary journal’s cofounder, said. “It’s breaking free of some of the darkness we’ve been in.”

New in the Whitefish Review, editors added a humor prize to bring some laughter to the publication during a difficult time.

“I just feel like we need to laugh more,” Schott said. “We’ve been going through some heavy times and we continue to and I feel like finding humor helps. We need to laugh more.”

“Swimming Pool” Digital art, 32×40 cm, 2021 by Karl Larrsson. Published in the Summer/Fall 2021 edition of Whitefish Review.

Categorized into two prizes and judged by Huey Lewis and Jimmy Kimmel, Michael P. Branch won the nonfiction award with his short story, “Tonya, I Love You,” recalling his experience seeing former professional figure skater Tonya Harding, who was involved in a national scandal in 1994, skate at an intermission hockey game.

Robert Morgan Fisher won the fiction prize for “Hitler’s Typewriter,” a story about a man who writes a story on an industrial roll of paper towel using Hitler’s typewriter.

“We found that it’s difficult to be funny,” Schott said. “Everybody has a different sense of humor and this one is a page turner and our judges felt it sustained the pitch.”

Jack Clinton received $1,000 for the annual Montana Prize for Fiction for his short story “From Far Away,” a tale of a stranger encounter portraying a story of loss.

“Creation Myth” by Larry Blackwood — Composite photograph, inkjet print on cotton rag fine art paper, dimensions variable, 2020. Published in the Summer/Fall 2021 edition of Whitefish Review

The review also highlighted poetry in this year’s edition, featuring an interview with co-poets Laureate of Montana Melissa Kwansy, who is gay, and M.L. Smoker, a member of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, who both come from marginalized communities and use poetry to foster connections through landscape, culture and history.

Smoker and Kwansy read from selections of their work during a live presentation on Facebook in August, which replaced a launch party as COVID cases continued to spike, prompting the editorial team to host an online event instead. Douglas Chadwick also read from his new book, “Four-Fifths a Grizzly.”

As always, the review brings art, literature and science together, which has remained an important mission since it was founded. “Taking Flight” includes essays highlighting climate change and an excerpt from Missoula writer Rob Chaney’s new book, “The Grizzly in the Driveway.”

With the 26th edition of Whitefish Review wrapped up, the editorial team has already begun taking submissions for the 27th edition, “Vortex.”

“It feels like when our editors get together and talk, we’re stuck in a whirlpool and we thought the theme of ‘vortex’ was appropriate with the swirling nature of our culture and circling back to COVID,” Schott said.

Whitefish Review is accepting submissions for “Vortex,” which will be published in winter 2022, through Sept. 30.

Readers can donate to the Whitefish Review via the Great Fish Community Challenge through Sept. 17.

Copies are available at local and national bookstores and can be ordered online at www.whitefishreview.org.

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