Here’s a little taste of Richard Froude’s winning essay, “Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead.”
“The truth is I have not been sleeping well. My wife and I are expecting our first child in three month’s time. For the first fifteen weeks I was convinced that both she and the baby were going to die. Now I am only afraid. For many years my biggest fear was that I would find out something about myself that I could not change and could not stand, something that had always been obvious to others. I wrote myself a note on a scrap of yellow legal paper and taped it to the wall by the side of my bed. ‘Embrace What You Are Afraid Of,’ it said. This was when I lived in Los Angeles and missed Colorado a lot.
Before that, I was afraid of cancer, afraid enough that I stopped smoking cigarettes, then started again when I had forgotten what that fear felt like, not so I could feel it again but because it felt so completely inconceivable when it was not immediately present, the way that even when presented with exact temperatures I cannot imagine how it will feel hotter or colder at the other end of a plane ride and as such always pack the wrong clothes. And so I oscillated between smoking and not smoking, between an intense fear of cancer and a fear of the unknowable self, until I quit smoking for good and read my yellow bedside note so many times that I actually started to believe it and thought sophomoric thoughts about Jean-Paul Sartre and met my wife and then without initially realizing it the object of my fear shifted from my own death to hers. And now that I am to have a son, I am ruled by his death. Perhaps this is how God felt in the days before Bethlehem. Perhaps this is how God has always felt, owned by the hypothetical end of what he has not yet created.”
Want to read the rest? Look for “Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead” in the upcoming issue of Sycamore Review!
Congratulations again to Richard Froude, runner-up Eson Kim, and this year’s finalists!
Richard Froude was born in London in 1979, grew up in Bristol, and came to the US in 2002. He has written three books: FABRIC (Horse Less Press, 2011), The Passenger (Skylight Press, 2012) and Tarnished Mirrors: Translations of Charles Baudelaire (Muffled Cry Editions, 2004). His writing has appeared in print and online in publications including Conjunctions, Witness, Diagram, Tarpaulin Sky, Bombay Gin, Birkensnake and many others. Most recently, poems have appeared in Ottawater and Dreginald, as well as in the Modern Masters exhibition at the Denver Art Museum. He holds an MFA from Naropa’s Jack Kerouac School and a PhD in English/Creative Writing from the University of Denver as the 2010-11 Evan Frankel Fellow. Along with clinical research into the benefits of narrative, he teaches MFA students in the Naropa Summer Writing Program as well as year-round classes in nonfiction and experimental forms at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop. He lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Rohini and their son Arjun, and begins medical school in the fall.