The Drinking Fountain: Our new contest NOW ON HOLD

The foundry of ignorance and hate tapped the fires of hell to melt the pig-iron that cast this evidence of our inhumanity to one another. Who now continues to man the bellows? Who will now douse the flames? Who will now stand shoulder-to shoulder, and proclaim enough is enough? We need you now, more than ever.

Hello Literati,

Due to a medical emergency, the staff at A Word With You Press is unable to address the current contest, and we’ve decided to put it on hold until further notice.

We thank you for your sympathy and patience as we handle the situation.

Thank you,

“I can’t run no more

With that modest crowd

While the killers in high places

Say their prayers and vows.

But they’ve summoned,

they’ve summoned up a thunder cloud…

They’re gonna hear from me.”

(Leonard Cohen)


Are you ready now to let them hear from you?  I am.

This may well be the most important (of about fifty) contests that A Word with You Press has ever sponsored, and I am so angry that I am putting up $500 to get your attention.  We have avoided anything political on this website in the past: but enough is enough. You know what I’m talking about.

I found this cast-iron plaque in an antique store. It kept me awake at night, until I felt compelled to drive back to Coeur d’Alene from Moscow and plunk down a Franklin to secure it for this contest: it is both trophy and prompt. It is history, but it is not in the past, as history should be.  It is here.  Right now.

I remember a road trip across America as a 19-year-old with my friend Brian, stopping to see a movie one humid evening in Mississippi. We found our seats in an empty theater, but then heard murmurings and chatter, even a little laughter, from above.  Then we realized that “coloreds” were restricted to the balcony, and we privileged California white boys could pick our seats down below. We walked out of that dark theater in impotent protest.  I can’t remember what movie was playing; I can’t forget the shame and outrage.

It all came back when I saw this plaque that had somehow migrated from the Deep South to a shelf in an antique store in Northern Idaho.

Drinking Fountain

Whites (to the left)  Coloreds (to the right)

Montgomery, Ala      July1931

Here is your prompt: Imagine you are an eight-year-old boy or girl and you walk into a diner or bus station with your dad. You see the sign.  You ask your dad what it means. The conversation begins.  Alternatively, you create an essay based on whatever thoughts this plaque conjures up within you or maybe your personal revelation on your own road trip to enlightenment.

The rules: Up to a thousand words. Shoulder some of the cost by paying $10 for each entry, more if you can, to enter.  And keep in mind, once I have selected three finalists, the run-off will be to answer the question: Why do you want to win this plaque, and what thundercloud has been summoned up in you?  Send your entries to by November 22nd. (Perhaps you recognize the anniversary).  Finalists announced Thanksgiving Day. Finalists’ entries due by December first. Cash prize and plaque awarded by December 5th.  Two entries allowed per writer. Entry details by clicking the “Contest” icon on the website home page.

I am going to judge this contest myself, and, rather than delegating it to staff, I will personally post each entry. I am angry.  I want you to get angry, but I want you to convert that anger into eloquence; that is what writers do. You want to change the world?  Here is your chance. I have waited a long time for the inspiration to launch another contest.  This is it.



  1. Thornton Sully

    By the way, students at the University of Idaho at their option can enter without the small entry fee. I myself am a student here, and I want to encourage you not only to discover your own set of values, but to speak them.

  2. Pafia Marigold says:

    I deeply support this contest, because the US has yet to have the depth of conversations necessary to heal the hatred mongers born from the fears during reconstruction, segregation, immigrations, Native American displacements and treaty violations, poverty, religion, culture and the those distortions imported from totalitarian regimes including the Third Reich. Given the rise of emboldened and ignorant intolerances from hate groups both in and beyond Charlottesville, it is time to denounce hatred in this country and world. I am awed by the courage of AWWYP to face this cancer of the heart and mind with civil vigour.



    I am posting this to all my social media and I am adding you to the “become a guest list” and any host could schedule an interview with you if they have interest. Thomas

  4. Marianne Jacobson says:

    My cousin told me the experience of my Auntie:
    ” In the 1950s, my mother took the southern routed train to visit my brother who lived in Florida. The train made stops in the Southern states like Mississippi, don’t recall what state the following happened. She got off the train at one of the stops and headed for the restrooms. Not ever having gone through the South before and being a little German woman, she didn’t notice there was “segregated everything.” When she got to the restroom inside, there was a sea of black women’s faces starring at her. After when she left, she looked at the sign and saw the word “colored.” “

  5. ladypafiamarigold says:

    Help me please. I’ve sent in my entry to “The Drinking Fountain”, but can’t seem to find where I should send in the entry payment.

    Lady Pafia Marigold

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