Shana Ross

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 ReviewUnder 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

Growing the Longridge Review family of writers, editors, readers, and artists is a perpetual joy, and it is truly with joy that we welcome Crystal Good as a 2022 reader for The Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction. CG and I have been friends for 20 years. We helped build Create WV together, walked runways together (I’m telling you, even I can’t believe that happened…..), earned our MFAs together, and still check in with one another from time to time to say, “Check me on this, did that crazy thing actually occur?” The answer is invariably yes, it did.

It’s a privilege to have her onboard to help read for the #BarnhillPrize this year. Check her out, and consider submitting your work through July 31. We use Submittable, CLICK HERE.

— EDG

Crystal Good is the publisher of BLACK BY GOD | The West Virginianan emerging news and storytelling organization centering Black voices from the Mountain State; the name is a riff on the colloquial phrase West ‘by God’ Virginia that claims a unique place in central Appalachia. Tweet at her here: @cgoodwoman

Crystal Good

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If you’re new here: In 2010, a little idea for sharing essays on childhood got a big boost when Anne Clinard Barnhill submitted “Winter Solstice” to an unknown fellow West Virginian. I wanted to pursue the idea there is a lot to say about how our early experiences shape the world. Anne later sent “Melungeons and Mystery,” as well as “Staying.” It is because of Anne’s belief in Essays on a West Virginia Childhood that the project became something so much bigger, an online literary journal that publishes writers from coast to coast in the USA, and beyond.

The Barnhill Prize honors Anne Clinard Barnhill’s generous spirit of support for all who love to read and write; her lifelong empathy with those who mine their childhood experience to understand themselves now; the natural vulnerability in her compelling prose and poetry; and her boundless generosity in sharing her writing passions with the world.

©Sonja Livingston

We are thrilled to announce that Sonja Livingston will award the 2022 Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction. Personal note from EDG: I studied with Sonja at #WVWCMFA when she was a visiting professor. She is warm, brilliant, and humble. I am so pleased she said yes! She also created a delightful and insightful series of interviews on her YouTube channel, The Memoir Cafe. Go there and subscribe.

Sonja is an associate professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, and teaches in the Postgraduate Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA). She has taught at the University of Memphis and in The Writing Workshops Abroad for the University of New Orleans in Edinburgh, San Miguel de Allende and Cork.

Things to do today:

  • Learn more about Sonja on her website: https://www.sonjalivingston.com
  • Read her gorgeous CNF: The Virgin of Prince Street: Expeditions into Devotion; Queen of the Fall: A Memoir of Girls and Goddesses; Ghostbread; Ladies Night at The Dreamland; and her wonderful CNF guide, Fifty-Two Snapshots: A Memoir Starter Kit. (All available through links on her website and wherever books are sold.)
  • Read about the #BarnhillPrize on our website and familiarize yourself with our mission.
  • Follow our blog to stay current on contest information as we move toward June 1.
  • Follow us on Twitter, our favorite hangout on the socials: @LongridgeReview
  • Follow Sonja on Twitter: @SonjaLivingston
  • Start penciling out your own essay for our contest. Submissions open June 1 and close July 31, 2022.
Read the #BarnhillPrize-winning essays to date:
2019: Suburbs Plagued by Foraging Deer
2020: 4 Generations of Black Hair Matters
2021: How to Make Jeweled Rice (Shirin Polo)

Most of all, be inspired, get excited, and write on!

We are delighted to share that #BarnhillPrize finalist Douglas Imbrogno (The Egg, Issue 20, Fall 2021) will read from his WIP memoir tonight in Huntington, WV; he will be joined via Zoom by the beloved Homer Hickam. Hear it straight from Doug …. and you can Zoom in, too:

“The “Writers Can Read Open Mic Night” monthly series resumes 7 p.m. tonight (Monday, FEB 21) with Homer Hickam and myself as featured speakers in 15-20 minute slots, followed by an open mic. In honor of “Rocket Boys,” his memoir made into the movie “October Sky,” I’ll read from a “sorta memoir” in progress, “WHAT HAPPENED: Confessions of a Failed Boulevardier” — a chapter on the night humankind first stepped off planet. An epic thing happened that night, not often mentioned. Also, a chapter on what it’s like coming up underground into the sunlight of Paris. Homer will ZOOM into the event; I’ll be live in person at Heritage Station plus viewable on ZOOM.

Check this Writers Can Read Open Mic Night Series for the link (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82477986176?pwd=SHAvcjdwaGV3YzZBbUFmZUt0TllEZz09&fbclid=IwAR3zayj-AGwH6V5_e_YkhSZcFrVfKfTY_D6fIbveCXizu_jIADcS4reOFR4#success).”

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

Beatrice Motamedi

It is our great pleasure to announce that Beatrice Motamedi is the 2021 winner of The Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction. Her essay, How to Make Jeweled Rice, was an early favorite in the submission process, and was named the best of the best by contest judge Mike Smith. Smith writes:

It has been a terrific pleasure to read and reread the eight finalists for the 2021 Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction, every one of which, I believe, would delight the contest’s namesake. My job was not an easy one, and I want to congratulate all the writers on producing such accomplished work and thank them for sharing it with the readers of Longridge Review.

“How to Make Jeweled Rice (Shirin Polo),” like a lot of great lyric essays, recognizes alteration—of time and place, of voice, of perspective and language—as a dynamic generator of rhythm. The steps of the recipe for Shirin Polo, handed down to the writer from her mother, anchors poignant childhood scenes of growing up in the 1960s as the child of Iranian immigrants in Milwaukee to an extended scene of visiting “Tehrangeles” as an adult. The essay moves between the steps of the recipe to memories of childhood in which the writer comes to terms with the decision to assimilate into American culture. From the problematizing of the popularization of rice in the United States—through a brief history of Uncle Ben’s, which successfully “stirred the pot” in the second half of the 20th Century—to an episode of people-watching on Rodeo Drive, there is a wry, winking humor at work throughout this essay, which grounds us through the movement between times and places as much as it charms.

Mike also named as notable The Benefit of Others (Cabrera) and Learning Shame (Thomas). Congratulations to Beatrice, 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!

Beatrice Motamedi is a writer, journalist and teacher. She was a Stegner Fellow in poetry and a John S. Knight Fellow in journalism, both at Stanford University. Beatrice’s work has appeared in Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora (University of Arkansas Press: 2006) as well as the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times and The International Herald-Tribune. Her series, “The Long Arm of Childhood,” is part of the Solutions Journalism Network’s Story Tracker. Beatrice lives in Oakland, California.

Anita Cabrera‘s s poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in The New Guard, Brain,Child Magazine, Colere, Acentos Review, The Berkeley Fiction Review, Best Travelers’ Tales 2021 Anthology, MER, Deronda, and other journals. Her short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Award and adapted for stage by the Bay Area Word for Word Theater Company. She lives in San Francisco where she is active in dance and recovery communities.

Frances Thomas is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn, New York. Born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, she moved to the United States in 2014 to study communications and creative writing at New York University. Her work has appeared in The Maine Review and Academy Press.

Catherine Con holds a BA in English Literature from Fu-Jen Catholic University, Taiwan, and an MS in System Science from Louisiana State University. She is a Computer Science instructor at the University of South Carolina, Upstate. She is published in Emrys Journal, Tint Journal, The Bare Life Review, The Petigru Review, HerStry, Shards, Dunes Review, Emrys Journal Online, National Women’s History Museum, and Catfish Stew. Con was nominated for 2020 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers, and selected for “2020 Local Authors” by Greenville County Library, South Carolina.

Carroll Grossman, also known as Teaberry, lives and writes in Louisville, Kentucky. Born and raised in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, she followed her dad along narrow deer paths, steep hills and razorback ridges, and across clear, cool streams. Many of her stories and poems reflect the honest, strong and resilient nature of those living in economic poverty while surrounded by great natural beauty. Her work has appeared in Edible Louisville; Harmony, Humanities Magazine of the University of Arizona College of Medicine; Calliope, an anthology published by Women Who Write. Her work may also be found in, The White Squirrel, a literary arts magazine of the University of Louisville; Interstice, a literary publication of South Texas College; Literary Accents and Canary, a literary journal of the environmental crisis. A collection of poetry, Possibility . . .Yes, was published in 2012. She recently received her MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University.

Douglas Imbrogno is a lifelong storyteller in words, pictures and moving imagery. He worked for 35 years as a long-form feature writer, feature editor, and multimedia producer for a legendary small newspaper, The Charleston Gazette, in West Virginia. He currently is editor of the multimedia magazine WestVirginiaVille.com and co-founder of AMP Media, a multimedia production shop that does everything from short documentaries to music videos to ‘Naturegrams.’ He also edited and compiled “WHAT WHY HOW: Answers to Your Questions About Buddhism, Meditation, and Living Mindfully by Bhante G,” released internationally in January 2020 by Wisdom Publications.

Lina Lau is a mother, green tea drinker and writer based in Toronto, Canada. Her work can be found in XRAY Literary Magazine, The Citron Review, Hippocampus Magazine, carte blanche, and others. She writes during the in-between moments of parenthood. Follow her on Twitter @LinaLau_ and on IG @_linalau_.

Paulina Pinsky is a writer and educator based in Brooklyn. She received her MFA in Nonfiction Creative Writing from Columbia University, where she currently teaches comedy writing to high schoolers. She is the co-author of IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE AWKWARD, from HMH September 2021. She was a 2021 MacDowell fellow and has been published in Narratively, Human Parts, Columbia Journal, Slackjaw Humor, and HuffPo Women. Visit her website, www.paulinapinsky.com, where you can find links to her socials (@mizpiggy111).

Growing the Longridge Review family of writers, editors, readers, and artists is a perpetual joy, and it is truly with joy that we welcome Thea and Semein as 2021 readers (they will be joining, not replacing, our current band of five editors) for The Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction. Check them out, and consider submitting your work beginning June 1.

— EDG

Thea Princewill is a writer for magazines, newspapers, television, advertising agencies, and corporations. In fact, when she isn’t writing, she is usually reading. Or copy-editing. Or proofreading. Thea lives in South Florida and is currently working to improve her French language skills.

Thea Princewill

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Semein Washington is a poet whose published work can be found in Light, Eye to the Telescope, Sijo: An International Journal of Poetry and Song, Sonder Midwest, and is forthcoming in Hawai’i Review. Semein’s work is ecstatic poetry discussing topics of nature, science, religion, music, comic books, and human experience. He currently lives in Richmond, Virginia, and teaches as an adjunct professor of English at John Tyler Community College.

Semein Washington

***

If you’re new here: In 2010, a little idea for sharing essays on childhood got a big boost when Anne Clinard Barnhill submitted “Winter Solstice” to an unknown fellow West Virginian. I wanted to pursue the idea there is a lot to say about how our early experiences shape the world. Anne later sent “Melungeons and Mystery,” as well as “Staying.” It is because of Anne’s belief in Essays on a West Virginia Childhood that the project became something so much bigger, an online literary journal that publishes writers from coast to coast in the USA, and beyond.