blackbirdonline journalSpring 2020  Vol. 19 No. 1
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Founded in 2001 as a joint venture of the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of English and New Virginia Review, Inc.

Copyright © 2020 by Blackbird and the individual writers and artists

ISSN 1540-3068


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Announcing the Prize and Award Event

spacer Tarumoto
   Rebecca Mitchell Tarumoto

Emily Nemens is the 2019 winner of the Rebecca Mitchell Tarumoto Short Fiction Prize for outstanding short fiction. Her story “After Incus,” published in v17n1 in the spring of 2018, was selected by our editors from short fiction published by Blackbird over the previous two-year period.

Nemens’s story offers a timely observation on extinction and international conflict, employing thoughtful, concise prose to explore the liminal space of hope foregrounded in an increasingly tumultuous world. “After Incus” employs a compelling and authentic voice to capture individual moments of tenderness and fear with a deft eye for detail, giving new life to a history that in many ways reflects our current time.

Nemens received the award at Virginia Commonwealth University on February 13, 2020, and gave a reading from her award-winning work. Documentation of the event will appear in a future issue of Blackbird.

The Rebecca Mitchell Tarumoto Short Fiction Prize is sponsored by the family of Rebecca Mitchell Tarumoto in her memory to honor her devotion to the art of writing fiction, to expand the audience for outstanding short stories, and to encourage literary excellence among writers early in their careers.

Currently, a prize of $2,000 is offered every other year for the best work of short fiction published by Blackbird during that period, with a particular emphasis on work by an emerging or underappreciated writer.

Rebecca Mitchell Tarumoto was born September 21, 1945 in Richmond, Virginia. She died in October of 2007 after being struck in a pedestrian crosswalk in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. Her sustained interest in writing led to her fiction being published in a number of literary journals as well as winning several competitions, including the 1996 and 2000 Short Fiction contests sponsored by Richmond Magazine. She was a graduate of St. Gertrude’s High School in Richmond and of Virginia Commonwealth University (class of 1967), and in 1971 she received an MA in English from the University of Michigan.

Her husband, David H. Tarumoto, who established the award at VCU in 2010, resided in California and passed away in 2016 at the age of seventy-five.

While funding for the prize itself comes from David Tarumoto’s endowment, the Department of English welcomes contributions in support of the celebration. Anyone wishing to make a donation is invited to visit the secure online contributions page,, click on “Search” and type in “Tarumoto.”  end of text