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Inspiration Comes from the Deep Sea

Peinaleopolynoe are deep-sea creatures also known as a glitter worms. They also are both the title and the subject of sophomore Will Hall’s entry in this year’s Katharine Brush Flash Fiction Contest.  

Will’s story and an untitled piece by another sophomore, Ji Yee Chung, both won gold medals in the contest. They and the contest’s other medalists and Special Recognition recipients were celebrated on April 29 in the Katharine Brush Library.  

Will said the school’s theme this year, “The Natural World,” inspired his piece, as did two books that he read: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey and The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. Like those two works of nonfiction, Will said, he wanted to write “about a piece of our world that often goes overlooked, yet holds an immense amount of beauty.” 

Peinaleopolynoe, or glitter worms, satisfy that criteria. They also fit neatly with the one-word theme of this year’s contest: glitter. 

Katharine Brush’s first novel, which she began writing in 1924, was Glitter. When this year’s contest was announced by Writing Initiatives, the students were told that Brush gave the novel that title “to evoke the spirit of the 1920s and the human tendency to fall for dazzling appearances. The enduring presence of glitter in contemporary life attests to its timeless appeal, as material, as verb, and as metaphor — an art supply thrown by fistfuls at parades, a description of light on the surface of a gemstone, or a figure of speech for the hollow promises of show business.”

Ji Yee said her story "revolves around the renowned artist Adrian Locke, who quickly rose to fame by bedazzling everyday objects and turning them into artwork. Though he was initially praised for his distinct ability to turn objects into glitter, he faced skepticism from the art world questioning the originality and the purpose of the work. Despite the controversy, he still tries to continue his work, tarnishing his reputation ... I wrote this story to reflect on the complexities of artistic expression and the impact of controversies on someone’s career."

She went on to say that she "wanted to express how public perception, fueled by social media and the general [public], can bring and take away someone’s artistic career. Adrian Locke’s journey reflects on the tension between artistic expression and accountability where opinions quickly turn into condemnation." 

Student entrants could take their stories anywhere they desired in 1,000 words or fewer. Will, like many an author before him, ripped up his work at one point.  

“The entire process from drafts up until submission took me about three weeks,” Will said. “I had already written a piece, but I didn't end up liking it, so I scrapped it and started from scratch. From there, I took my time and carefully read and reread my piece for almost a month to make sure it sounded and looked and felt just right.” 

He said when people read his work he wants “them to feel something unexpected. I don't want the reader to be left with a feeling of boredom or ‘expectedness’ like they knew where the story was going from the start. I hope that when people read my work they open up and feel vulnerable even. I think it's important for readers and writers alike to learn something about themselves [from a piece], and I hope my work does that for people.” 


2024 Katharine Brush Flash Fiction Contest 

Gold Medal  

"Peinaleopolyne" by sophomore Will Hall  

Untitled by sophomore Ji Yee Chung  

Silver Medal  

"In Starlight" by junior Ellen Chen  

"Gold Dust Woman" by senior Rumi Schottland  

"Dinner Reflections" by junior Grace Rodner  

Untitled by sophomore Frieda Bilezikian  

Bronze Medal  

"I Lost It" by sophomore Robin Bushley  

“When the Camellia Blooms" by freshman Ria An 

Special Recognition  

"Doggedly" by sophomore Julia Liu with Special Recognition for "Promising Prose Poetics"  

"Memory and Journey" by sophomore Annabelle Chan with Special Recognition for "Rhythm and Flow"  

"Light, Dust, and Some Glitter" by senior Jessica Luo with Special Recognition for "Aesthetics Akin to The Yellow Wallpaper"  

Untitled by senior Katie Fullerton with Special Recognition for "Quirky Scene-Setting"  





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