Out of 135 BYU submissions and 24 finalists, Jesse Richmond’s Chifir becomes Juried Winner in the Short Fiction Category and is being published by Short Edition along with Kath Richard’s The Widow Interim and Braden Robinson’s roses.
You walk up to a tall sleek machine positioned just out of the way inside the Wilkinson Center. It’s been a long day and you could use something to lift your spirits. You survey the available options, press a button, and take what is dispensed from the bottom of the machine. What you receive isn’t a chocolate bar or bag of pretzels—it’s a long curly piece of printer paper with a story on it—and you aren’t standing at a vending machine: you’re at a short story dispenser.
Short story dispensers are becoming more common on campuses internationally as the French company Short Edition works to involve more college students in creative writing. Full novels have the daunting effect of turning away students who know they wouldn’t have time to finish them. So, Short Edition decided to create an experience where anyone could walk up to their machines, press a button to indicate how much spare time they have, and receive a fun piece of literature to keep. Reading time ranges from one to five minutes—just enough time to keep you occupied while you wait for the bus.
Short Edition doesn’t just encourage students to read from the machines—they also encourage students to write for their annual Long Story Short Award Contest. Students from any university can submit poetry, fiction, or non-fiction. For all three categories, a panel of judges awards first and second place and the online community awards a Public Winner and runner up. The winners not only receive five hundred dollars prize money, but also the opportunity to be published through the short story dispensers. Though there were many valiant entries from BYU this year competing for this honor, Jesse Richmond’s creative fiction piece Chifir rose up to become the Juried Winner in the Short Fiction Category.
Chifir is an exciting read about an unusual interrogation; a cross between a spy thriller and a rom-com. When asked about what inspired Chifir, Jesse said, “In past years I've participated in a writing event where the goal is to write a short story (between 100 and 1000 words) for every day in July; this piece started out as one of those, inspired by a prompt from another participant that read ‘Secret agent godmother comes to visit.’ Originally, the scene was between Nat and her grandmother: Baba was secreting herself in different spots in Nat's apartment and asking pointed questions about a boy Nat was dating, all while Nat was tearing the place apart looking for her. In the years that followed, I kept coming back to the story, thinking of how I might move things around to make it more interesting; Chifir is what came from all of those revisions, and I'm proud of how it ended up!”
While the contest is over for this year, the reading has only just begun. Chifir, The Widow Interim, roses, and other stories from BYU students can be found at Short Edition’s website, or inside the short story dispensers found around campus. The three dispensers are located at: the Tanner Building on the first floor, the Harold B. Lee Library by the main entrance, and the Wilkinson Center just outside the entrance to the BYU Store. A fourth dispenser will be added to campus as our reward for tying with UNC for the most entries submitted. Visit one today and see where your story takes you!