It is our great pleasure to announce that Shana Ross is the 2022 winner of The Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction. Her essay, Story with Dog, was an early favorite in the submission process, and was named the best of the best by contest judge Sonja Livingston. Livingston writes:
Judging this year’s Barnhill Prize was a real honor but not an easy one. The essays broached important but tough topics and I fell a little in love with each piece.
I chose Story with Dog because it would not let me be. As the title suggests, the essay recounts a story with a dog, but, like the best writing, its deceptively simple subject functions like a trap door and, by the essay’s end, we find ourselves free falling into the fertile terrain below the surface of the words.
Vivid and poignant, Story with Dog is about cruelty and survival, yet the writing tackles these weighty topics with restraint. In such a brief essay, every word matters. Nothing is wasted. Though the subject matter is not easy, the writer’s voice is inviting, magnetic and does not flinch. As the essay progresses from dog to father to child and we might rather look away, the telling is so masterful, we’re compelled to stay with it and are rewarded for doing so. By the end, we understand what the story means but its meaning is felt and not prescribed. As a result, this “small” story stands for itself while powerfully suggesting a much larger world—making it not so very “small” after all.
Flannery O’ Connor said, “A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way—you tell a story because a statement would be inadequate.” This year’s winning essay does just that and would do Flannery proud.Sonja Livingston
Sonja also named as notable Game of Life (Fontaine) and Field Day, 1990 (Choate).
Congratulations to Shana, and to each of our finalists. On behalf of our editorial team, we are humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to read your work; most of all, you contributed to the dream of honoring Anne Barnhill by offering poignant and powerful narratives from your childhood experience.
Please see our home page or Creative Nonfiction menu tab for links to all of our essays, and thank you!
Shana Ross has done time in both a co-ed percussion fraternity and the PTA. She arrived this March in Edmonton, Alberta, after 25 years in New England. Qui transtulit sustinet. Her work has appeared in Chautauqua Journal, Phantom Kangaroo, Gone Lawn, Cutbank Literary Journal, Laurel Review and more. She was awarded first place in the 2021 Bacopa Literary Review Poetry competition, received a 2019 Parent-Writer Fellowship to Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing, and serves as an editor for Luna Station Quarterly. Her first chapbook, Heavy Little Things (Finishing Line Press) is now available. She holds both a BA and MBA from Yale and rarely tweets. Twitter: @shanakatzross
Wendy Fontaine‘s work has twice appeared in Longridge Review (and now three times), as well as in Hippocampus Magazine, Jet Fuel Review, River Teeth, Sweet Lit, and many other literary magazines. Her writing was nominated for the Pushcart and Best of the Net anthologies, and in 2020 she won the Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction Prize. A native New Englander, Fontaine now reside in southern California. Twitter: wendymfontaine
Emily Choate is the Fiction Editor of Peauxdunque Review. Her fiction appears in Mississippi Review, storySouth, Shenandoah, The Florida Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Rappahannock Review, and elsewhere. She writes regularly for Chapter 16, and other nonfiction appears in Atticus Review, Late Night Library, and Nashville Scene, among others. Emily holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and was a Tennessee Williams Scholar at Sewanee Writers Conference. She lives near Nashville, where she’s working on a novel. Twitter: @EmChoate_Writer
M Tamara Cutler is a narrative screenwriter with a visual arts background. Works of creative nonfiction are published/forthcoming in Hunger Mountain Review, Under the Gum Tree, and Brevity Blog. She has a diploma in Advanced Creative Writing: Nonfiction from Cambridge University and an MFA in Film from New York University. She splits her time between Southern California and southern Spain. Twitter: @thatplaceUlove
Rachel Laverdiere writes, pots, and teaches in her little house on the Canadian prairies. She is CNF editor at Atticus Review and the creator of Hone & Polish Your Writing. Find Rachel’s prose in Grain, The New Quarterly, Atlas and Alice, The Citron Review and other fine journals. Twitter: @r_laverdiere
Zachary Ostraff received his MFA in creative writing from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University (2016). His essay, Precedent, was a semi-finalist for the 2020 Hippocampus Magazine’s Remember in November contest. He has also had work in Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies and High Desert Journal. He is currently a Ph.D. student at Texas Tech University. Twitter: @ostraffz