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Fairytales lead Lewes writer to fellowship

Shannon McNaught * Delaware
shannon.marvel@doverpost.com
Sussex Countian

 Kim DeCicco is writing a novel about a 300-year-old family curse.

“What I write is fairytale-ish, a little offbeat,” she said.

She’s been awarded an “Emerging Artist” fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts, which comes with a $3,000 prize.

“I like stories with a little bit of magical realism in them and a little bit of the supernatural,” DeCicco said. “… Alice Hoffman, Anne Rice.”

The 53-year-old DeCicco grew up in Staten Island. With a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in museum studies, she spent most of her adult life working in museums. She moved to Lewes in 2004 and now manages an antiques mall.

DeCicco started writing for fun as a teen. In the past few years she started taking it seriously. Her short story, “Sisters of Land and Sea,” was selected for publication in “Beach Dreams,” a 2019 collection of stories by Cat & Mouse Press.

She submitted her work to the Division of the Arts with hopes of getting a new computer. She’ll also use the prize money for editing services and classes.

“Read and write a lot, it’s the only way you’ll get better. It’s very boring advice but that’s what it comes down to,” she said.

DeCicco is a member of the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild with another fellowship winner, Sarah Barnett.

“Getting a nice group of people to share your work with is always good too, so you can bounce your ideas off of them,” DeCicco said.

From an unfinished, untitled story by Kim DeCicco

“You are excommunicated,” the pastor said to me as we stood in the yard outside my son’s home.

Relief nearly made me swoon. An untimely demise would not come today. “I’m grateful for your leniency.”

“Tolerance, Madame, not leniency. I show you the tolerance we sought from our king in France – the impetus that led us to this new land.”

I bowed my head. Wrapped in my grief and longing, my fear of the unknown, I’d destroyed my son’s life and my own. I nodded my comprehension. “I will devote my days to seeking a cure for what I’ve done.” I said, then turned to mount my horse.

Guillaume and his wife appeared at their door. Their son, wrapped tight in a blanket, was cradled in my son’s arm. They were ready to bury their child. I made to join them but Guillaume stopped me with a quiet, “No.” My heart clenched so hard breath would not come. My condemnation was complete. I gave Guillaume a brief nod and climbed onto the mare’s back, only my grasp on the pommel held me upright.

I would go forth alone; a state in which I’d remain until a neighbor might find me and bury my bones in the waiting earth.

About the fellowships

“Individual Artist Fellowship grants provide the recognition and exposure that artists need to successfully promote their work,” said Paul Weagraff, director of Delaware Division of the Arts. “The financial award allows them to pursue advanced training, buy equipment and materials or fulfill other needs to advance their careers.”

This year, 139 artists applied and 19 were awarded fellowships. The Masters Award and $10,000 went to Mark Unruh of Wilmington.

Twelve established artists, six emerging artists and two honorable mentions were selected. Full list: arts.delaware.gov/iafrecipients.

The work of the Fellows will be featured in a group exhibition, Award Winners XX, at the Biggs Museum in Dover June 5 to July 23, with an award ceremony and reception June 10. Selections will be displayed at CAMP Rehoboth Aug. 1-31 and at Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington Sept. 4 to Oct. 25.