A Georgia native, writer Jeremy T. Wilson hoped to join the great tradition of southern writers — names like Twain, O’Connor, Faulkner and Welty. But it was further north, in Chicago, where he would end up accepting a major literary prize: the Nelson Algren Award, named for the iconic Chicago writer. Wilson won the 2012 award for his short story “Everything is Going to be Ok,” based on his experiences in Chicago. “It was a breakthrough,” he says. “After moving here and experiencing the MFA writing workshops at SPS, I felt I could move in a new direction.”
Wilson has had a lifelong interest in writing, but only pursued it seriously after he moved to Chicago in 2001. He published some short works of fiction and competed in several writing competitions before entering SPS’ Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, earning his MFA degree in spring of 2011. “I was drawn to the program’s evening classes, and I knew Sandi Wisenberg, a working writer and the program’s director. She was an inspiration to me and helped me understand how much work it takes to do this well.”
He also admits to “not being a very good reader,” and the MFA program at SPS — unlike some creative writing programs — required literature courses involving analysis of narrative structure which taught him to “read like a writer.” Wilson believes these courses, and workshops with other serious, aspiring writers contributed to his Nelson Algren Award achievement and also a Pushcart Prize nomination. Wilson is currently working on new fiction while tutoring at SPS and for Chicago youth organizations.