Professor’s short story nominated for literary prize

Cassie LaJeunesse, Campus Carrier Deputy News Editor

In the fall of 2017, William Donnelly, assistant professor of English, rhetoric and writing, published a short story in the literary magazine decomP. The story, titled “The Urn”, was nominated by the magazine’s editor for a 2017 Pushcart Prize. 

According to its website, the Pushcart Prize is awarded to the best short stories, poetry and essays from small magazines and book presses around the world. Each year, the Pushcart Prize publishes an anthology of the winning pieces. If Donnelly’s story wins, it will be published in the 2017 anthology. 

“The Urn” is about a nuclear waste site underneath Yucca Mountain. It is loosely based on debates that occurred a few years ago regarding the potential of such a site being created. 

“It never happened, but there was a lot of concern about how the site would remain safe from people in the years to come,” Donnelly said. “It would be radioactive for something like 10,000 years.”

In the story, scientists in present day must develop a warning sign that will last for thousands of years and effectively deter future societies from opening the waste site. However, thousands of years later, the site is disturbed. 

According to Donnelly, his stories are published a few times a year in literary magazines, and this is his second Pushcart nomination. 

“It’s always an honor to be nominated, whether I win or not,” Donnelly said. “Even if not it means that the editor really liked my work, and that’s a real honor.”

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