The Tim McGinnis Award

At the end of each year, The Iowa Review editor and staff choose, from all the work published in our pages over the previous year, a piece that we think most fits the comic spirit of one-time contributor Tim McGinnis, who, as David Hamilton explained in his December 2009 editor's note,

... grew up in north central Illinois, flatter land than Iowa, to become a writer in New York from where he sent us [in 1986] a three-page story, "The Trail," about a distracted Kafka on a hike at Boy Scout Camp, and as it had in fact been a while since we'd run anything on Kafka's scouting days, as his two-and-a-half line cover letter reminded us, we placed it first in an issue over twenty years ago to learn, a couple of years later, that McGinnis, not yet forty, had died of a brain tumor; the news came when his family approached us to sponsor an award in his name, for he had been especially pleased by our acceptance of his work, [...] and so the prize has continued, with interruptions, and some shading of emphasis, since holding out for comic sketches, which had been our intent, threatened to make it a very occasional prize as almost all such writing wilts under a second glance.

We first announced the McGinnis Award in our Spring-Summer 1989 issue and have awarded prizes most years since. Winners receive $1,000 and mention in our December issue. 

inspiration for the prize

Tim McGinnis, “The Trail” (16/2, Fall 1986)

List of winners

2012: Ramon Isao, "Rod Stewart Is Everywhere" (42/3)

2011: Bradley Bazzle, "Magellan" (41/3)

2010: Saint James Harris Wood, “Rabble Letters” (40/2)

2009: Sharma Shields, “The McGugle Account” (39/3)

2008: Ron Carlson, “Victory at Sea” (38/3) and Jim Barnes, “Five Villanelles” (38/1)

2007: Jean Ross Justice, “Tales from a Family Album: The Justices” (37/1)

2002: David Baker, “Postcards from the Islands” (31/3)

2001: Albert Goldbarth, “Library,” “The Great Ones,” “Apology,” “Astronomy” (29/1 and 30/3) and Steve Tomasula, “C-U See-Me” (30/3)

1999: Sharon Wahl, “Tractatus Logico-Eroticus” (28/2)

1998: Susanne Grabowski, “Indian Food” (27/3)

1997: Eric Miles Williamson, “Hope, Among Other Vices and Virtues” (26/3)

1996: Rochelle Nameroff, “Meditation at Chez Panisse” (25/3)

1995: John Picard, “Sinatra: A Memoir” (24/3)

1992: Jason Blake Keuter, “On Fishing” (22/2)

1991: James Solheim, “The Man Who Measures Animals” and Gloria Jones, accompanying illustrations (20/2)

1990: M.R. Axelrod, “PIZD’óSH: Nikolai Gogol, Abner Doubleday, and the Russian Origins of Baseball” (19/3)