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.
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.
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.
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.
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.