While The Ear has expanded over the years to include a global array of voices—we’ve published someone from every continent, yes, even Antarctica!—we’re always thinking about our roots. We began as one of the first literary magazines in Orange County, CA, and over the years, many local creatives have inspired us. One important voice, whose work you could find throughout our archives, was the writer and photographer, Linda Purdy.
The Ear has always listened to people who offer us new perspectives, who make the strange world around us more legible, or who show us how very strange the ordinary in our lives can be. Linda spoke our language. In her photographs, she offered us levitating trucks and clouds echoing cypress trees; in her stories, the chance to imagine a con-man medium eventually possessed by the voices he’s invented; in her poems, an eye to the mysteries of nature, curiosity, and spiritual ennui. A longtime lifelong learner at Irvine Valley College, she made a lasting impression on everyone she met.
We’re honoring Linda’s memory this issue with our first memorial prize series: an opportunity to recognize the weird and wonderful work of our local community. We hope you enjoy these Orange County voices and that even if you didn’t know Linda Purdy personally, you’ll celebrate and honor the Linda Purdys in your own life.
This year, the Linda Purdy Memorial Prize awarded $700 total to our winners:
First in Poetry: Sandra De Andra with "Cruisin'"
First in Fiction: Claire Dixon with "Second Chances"
Second in Poetry: Patty Seyburn with "Doris the Goddess"
Second in Fiction: Dawn Bonker with "September Sage"
Honorable Mention in Poetry: Wendy Esterás with "Ballad of Gazos Creek"
Honorable Mention in Poetry: Stacy Russo with "Something So Gorgeous"
If you'd like to help us reach our goal of creating an endowed fund so that we can continue awarding these prizes in perpetuity, please visit the Linda Purdy Memorial Prize foundation page to make a tax deductible contribution.
Of course, it’s not just our contest winners whose work helps us see and appreciate the weird and the wonderful. In this issue you’ll find everything from group showers and country music to the saving power of a jungle gym or a character costume; meaning in the weather, injections, even calculus problems; and a chance to look closely at meat-eating pigeons, COVID isolation, and the wildness of imagination.
None of this would be possible without our community. I’m grateful to everyone who donated to support the Linda Purdy Memorial Prize, to everyone who submitted work to the regular issue and the contest, to our campus community, and most of all to our tireless student editors and readers, who always manage to make the issue happen, no matter the odds.
Thank you , readers, for lending us your ear.