Imagination & Sensibility: Thoughts on Creative Nonfiction Craft

These words from her submission’s cover letter are shared with the permission of 2021 #BarnhillPrize winner Beatrice Motamedi; we hope they inspire you to think about sharing your own essay. Subs for our Winter issue are open now through January 3, 2022.

Read her essay, How to Make Jeweled Rice.

I’m in a memoir workshop right now and it’s been a revelation to realize how much I haven’t understood about what I experienced as an immigrant kid growing up in Milwaukee, and how those experiences, many of them still deep wells that I haven’t yet plumbed, continue to shape me. Or in your words, “the mysteries of childhood experience, the wonder of adult reflection, and how the two connect over a lifespan.”

When I began writing memoir, I worried that my stories would be too dated or unrelatable. Now I understand that it’s not when something took place that matters; it’s the imagination and sensibility that one can bring afterwards to what happened in childhood that can transform it into a story that can open your mind, and others as well. To my delight, the Barnhill Prize honors this kind of writing.

— Beatrice Motamedi

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