McGlynn wins nonfiction award for “Hydrophobia

Nicole Capozziello

“It started in a moment that never actually made it into the essay,” said Assistant Professor of English David McGlynn of his prize-winning piece “Hydrophobia.” The essay was recently named the winner of the Wisconsin Council for Writers’ Kay W. Levin Short Nonfiction Award.
The essay, set against the backdrop of McGlynn’s first winter in Wisconsin, explores madness. “The house was falling apart. I was afraid [my wife’s] pregnancy was doomed,” said McGlynn of the time in his life portrayed in “Hydrophobia.”
His worries seemed endless; at one time, McGlynn found himself at Sears next to his eldest son Galen, unable to even pay attention to him. It was in this powerful moment that McGlynn first conceived “Hydrophobia.”
However, it was only long after his second son Hayden’s birth that he was able to actually put these thoughts to paper. McGlynn began the essay in the winter of 2006 to 2007 and sent it to literary journals in the fall of 2007.
The essay was published in The Missouri Review’s Agonist Issue in the summer of 2008.
The Council for Wisconsin Writers recognizes work in a variety of categories, from children’s literature to outdoor writing. McGlynn’s recent book of short fiction, “The End of the Straight and Narrow,” published by Southern Methodist University Press in the fall, was also an honorable mention for the Anne Powers Book-Length Fiction Award.
The essay is just one of many personal essays that McGlynn is hoping to publish as a collection in the near future. While McGlynn is still weighing his options for a publisher of that collection, many of the essays are in the process of being individually published. “Rough Water,” which will be the last essay in the collection, will be appearing in Best American Sports Writing in October, while “Wanderers in Zion” will be featured in the Literary Review.
“It’s kind of a memoir – a series of interconnected tales,” said McGlynn of the forthcoming collection, which moves roughly chronologically from childhood to the present. Many of the essays, including “Hydrophobia,” meditate on the themes of water or swimming, one of McGlynn’s passions. For McGlynn, both writing and swimming serve similar needs, though in vastly different ways – “both are solitary, creative, meditative, cathartic.”
In addition to what he calls “five minutes of prestige,” McGlynn will also receive a cash prize of $500 and a weeklong stay at an artists’ retreat outside of Madison. McGlynn will probably only go for a few days, however, as he prefers the routine of his life here – a balance of writing, spending time with his family and swimming.