Author J. L. Hagen, Surprise’s economic development director from 2005 to 2010, has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
Each year, editors of independent presses and literary magazines throughout the world are invited to nominate works for consideration. Hagen was nominated for a short story, “Two Bells,” published earlier this year in U. P. Reader #7, an anthology of the year’s best writing from authors with connections to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
The tale relates the experience of "College Boy" Maki, who signs up as a crew member on a ferry transporting tourists to "The Island" in the U.P. By summer's end, he prays he can make it out alive before the start of fall classes.
“The nomination came as a complete surprise,” Hagen said. “I still can’t quite believe it. It’s extremely competitive, and winning is always a longshot, but it’s gratifying to be nominated. Since leaving Arizona in 2010 for Florida and retiring from economic development there in 2015, I have returned to my first love, creative writing. I have been having a blast, but this really knocked me off my chair.”
Winners will be announced in April 2024.
Last year, Hagen’s novelette, “Runtley Goes Rogue,” won a gold medal at the Florida Writers Association’s 2022 Royal Palm Literary Awards. His entry was published in an anthology “Sea Stacks: The Collected Stories of J. L. Hagen” and can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Rakuten Kobo and Apple Books.
Hagen was also recognized for a poem “Northwest of the Skillagalee,” included in FWA’s 2022 themed anthology “Thrills and Chills.” It was singled out as one of the top three works among 60 accepted for publication. It is available at floridawriters.org/collection-books.
A graduate of writing programs at the University of Michigan Residential College and the University of Chicago, Hagen grew up in St. Ignace, MI. He and his wife Joy commute between Lake Michigan and Tampa Bay.