About Tolchinsky’s story, “Rising,” Everett wrote, “This is a beautiful and patiently rendered short story. The story deals quietly with love and its attendant expectations and assumptions. It is a work about trust. This is a strong work with a voice that is particularly engaging and refreshing. Effectively understated and simultaneously profound.”
Everett, who said, “there was not a bad story in the lot,” gave a strong honorary mention to the story, “Ripples,” by UVA graduate student fiction writer Gahl Pratt-Pardes, who also received the Creative Writing Program’s 2021 Sydney Hall Blair Award for Excellence in Teaching.
In addition, Everett praised two other UVA M.F.A. fiction students’ work: Acacia Johnson’s story, “Guided,” and Suzie Eckl’s “Primitive Country.”
Tolchinsky, a Poe-Faulkner fellow in poetry, has written prose, essays, interviews and book reviews, as well as poetry. She participated in UVA President Jim Ryan’s first Arts on the Hill virtual video series, reading a new poem (at 7 minutes) about the coronavirus pandemic.
She completed a thesis of short stories as part of her B.A. in English literature and Italian studies from Bowdoin College and the University of Bologna, and has won several other awards for short stories and poems: first prize in the F. Scott Fitzgerald 2020 Literary Festival for “Rates & Vessels” and winner of Lumina’s spring 2019 fiction contest at Sarah Lawrence College for “Teeth.” Her poem, “before dawn, with the street lamp’s beam across your face,” was a finalist in the Australian Book Review’s 2021 Peter Porter Prize, and another poem, “Some things you can’t understand by punching harder,” published in The Under Review, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Those poems describe elements of her time training to box when she lived in New York a few years ago. She’s also writing a manuscript about boxing and her experience with it. For now, though, she has left the ring behind.
“Right now, I’ve stepped away from boxing and am involved in ‘softer’ activities like napping and dance and long walks,” she replied in email, adding that she’ll return to Charlottesville for the next academic year.
In this case, her story, “Rising,” has nothing to do with boxing and features a young couple who are struggling in current times (minus the pandemic). Tolchinsky intentionally made the main characters seem eerily similar to the biblical Noah and his wife.