From Our Soundbooth | September 12, 2017

This week’s featured 2017 Miller Audio Prize winner is Mariflo Stephens who won the Miller Prize in our Prose category. We’re so thrilled to be able to share her winning piece, “Appalachian Sprung,” (below) with you all this week.

Here’s what Mariflo wanted to say about “Appalachian Sprung”: “I hosted a radio interview show called ‘The Writer’s Corner’ for the University of Virginia station WTJU for 11 years during and after I was an M.F.A. student in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. I was in my late 30’s and early 40’s then, but the first time I appeared on the radio I was only 5 years old. I had memorized ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and my kindergarten teacher thought I could read it. Word got out and I went on the radio. These days I give book talks each month at an independent bookstore, and I often suffer from performance anxiety in front of a crowd. But put a microphone in front of me and I’m never afraid. Several of my essays have been broadcast on NPR though they all started as the written word, not the spoken word.

“‘Appalachian Sprung’ is the third chapter of my memoir-in-progress, Birthmark, which details my family’s experience with the 1950 polio epidemic which hit my hometown of Wytheville, Va., hardest in the nation. Though much of Birthmark is sad –I was born 6 weeks after polio claimed my 9 year-old brother –much of it is humorous. For I have learned this adage well: Laugh and the world laughs with you; cry and you cry alone.”

Mariflo Stephens has read from her work on Oprah and the Oxygen network. Her fiction is included in Worlds in their Words: Contemporary American Women Writers and her essays appear in The Barbie Chronicles: A Real Doll Turns Forty and Strategies for Successful Writing. Awarded two grants for fiction from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, she was the first place winner in the Sherwood Anderson Short Story Contest in 2008 and the second place winner in 2012. Her work has been published in The Washington Post, Iowa Woman, the Virginia Quarterly Review, The Walden Review, Catalyst: A Magazine for Social Change, and Zone 3, among other publications. Stephens received her B.S. degree in English from James Madison University in 1973 and her M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Virginia in 1989.

“Appalachian Sprung” by Mariflo Stephens: