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

Solvitur Ambulando © E. Gaucher

Creative Nonfiction, #23, Early Fall 2022

Brad Gibault, Uncle Monty
Tara Guy, Broken Bread
Anita Kestin, Chatham

Featured Artist

EDG

Sometimes we have essays that we loved but the timing was wrong and we check back with the writers to see if they are still interested in publishing with us. I feel so fortunate to be able to share these three with you now in a bonus issue of Longridge Review.

Brad Gibault is back! If you loved The Myth of Pat, you’ll enjoy Uncle Monty. Gibault has a talent I described to him this way in our correspondence:

You walk a thin line, but your skill as a writer keeps Uncle Monty’s story balanced and in the right zone. Despite your love and devotion to your uncle, you find a way to slip in little details about some of the troubles in his life. You let him be human. That’s where the good stuff is. When we deify and protect childhood versions of those we love, we don’t allow them to be human and we don’t allow ourselves to grow up.

EDG

Tara Guy gifts us with that rare blend of humor and grief as her child mind innocently inquires into why when “pagans” eat people it’s bad, but when Catholics eat Jesus it’s good; I’ll just let you discover this funny and heartbreaking narrative in your own way.

Anita Kestin‘s essay is a gorgeous and frightening dive into a very young child’s intuitive generational knowledge. She sees things in her grandmother she doesn’t understand but cannot unsee, and spends her life coming to terms with what she sees and needs to understand. Our readers weren’t sure the intensity of this one was earned until I pointed out Kestin’s bio. Read it.

And this issue’s “art” is a few of my personal snaps when I lived in Vermont. Because this Early Fall issue was unexpected, I didn’t have an artist on deck, so I am sharing my own photos. They don’t touch the levels of our true artists, but I hope they bring you a smile.

EDG

Today marks ONE MORE WEEK of open submissions for the #BarnhillPrize. Read this unrolled tweet from last week for details on prize winners from 2019, 2020, and 2021, then send us your best!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Subs R open for 2 more weeks for the #BarnhillPrize. Who has won since 2019? See comments for more on @mjmahoneywriter @real_marsha @writergirl and pls share w/ your networks. TY! 🧵🤩

https://longridgereview.submittable.com/submit

Suburbs Plagued by Foraging Deer @mjmahoney judged by @ranowain

What initially drew me 2 ‘Suburbs Plagued by Foraging Deer’ was the confident narrative voice. I felt at once that I was in the hands of a complicated storyteller …that understands how necessary it is 2 consider the complexity of the human condition w/o relying on E-Z answers.

The voice is curious yet anguished with a great amount of humor and all of this together deepens the insights the writer gains about place and family, especially in the nuanced ways in which the parents and sisters are balanced with regards to the new suburban home.

In the end, however, what drew me to this essay out of all the very self-assured and talented writers I was lucky enough to read for The Barnhill Prize was the impressionistic style of “Suburbs Plagued by Foraging Deer.”

Where the situation of the essay—a Catholic family moves from Brooklyn to a Long Island suburb called Deer Park—is simple enough, the subterranean story of longing and economic advancement, the story of tradition and generational shifts, is written with compelling subtlety.

4 Generations of Black Hair Matters @real_marsha judged by @CarterSickels

4 Generations of Black Hair Matters explores the changing hairstyles of four generations of Black women, and beautifully exemplifies what the personal essay can do. It’s both intimate and insightful.

By writing about her own life with nuance, intimacy, and specificity, Smith illuminates truths about American culture and history, and about race, gender, and class.

From the first scene, as the narrator considers “detangling” her granddaughter’s “springy hair coils,” I knew I was in confident, skilled hands.

Whether mining her mem0ries of her mother wrking over her hair w/ a hot comb or getting her first natural @ a barber shop in Chicago, or keenly examining why genrations of Black women embraced or rejectd particular hairstyles, the narrator of this essay is smart, supple, & funny.

I was absolutely drawn in by the narrator’s voice, and by the precise, nimble prose. 4 Generations of Black Hair Matters is a personal, perceptive essay that explores Black women’s hairstyles as powerful expressions of identity, beauty, and culture.

How to Make Jeweled Rice (Shirin Polo) @writergirl judged by Mike Smith

“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.

Who will win the #BarnhillPrize in 2022? Maybe you will! Maybe someone you know w/whom you share this tweet thread. #WritingCommunity ❤️

Originally tweeted by Longridge Review (@LongridgeReview) on July 18, 2022.

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

***

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.

We published Cascio’s essay, Kid, in Issue 12 in the Fall of 2018; speaking about both his writing and his visual art, he says each piece he creates is “a recorded haunting.” I know I’ve never stopped thinking about Kid, so he must be right. Of Cascio’s latest collection Tent City (Alien Buddha Press), one reviewer writes this:

Christopher Cascio notices everything — about neighbor’s dogs, a wrestling match, fathers and sons, a rain-drowned house. Under his inspection the details of living burgeon into major themes, so quietly the oncoming explosions barely register. And then, boom. Call these beautiful, deftly-crafted pieces short stories, small bejeweled things. But they are the size of the world.

Roger Rosenblatt

RR’s word choice has my attention, because some of it is actually quite far away from words that come to me at first: beautiful, bejeweled. Other words ring true for me: dogs, wrestling, drowned, explosions.

The fusion is in Cascio’s eye for the beauty and value of difficult, superficially ugly truths. He is a master of unveiled views into unpleasant subjects that allow us as readers to “get past” the roadblocks that a less-skilled writer can’t avoid. Stabbings, picking fights, heart attacks, watching a home fall apart, finding the strength not to end your life even when it would make the pain go away…….I have this flashback to the end of A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean:

When I finished talking to my father, he asked, “Is there anything else you can tell me?”

Finally, I said, “Nearly all the bones in his hand were broken.”

He almost reached the door and then turned back for reassurance. “Are you sure that the bones of his hand were broken? he asked. I repeated, “Nearly all the bones in his hand were broken.” “In which hand?” he asked. “In his right hand,” I answered.

Norman Maclean

Maclean and Cascio are very different writers, but they share the same gift, the capacity to look through the outward ugliness of life to the core beauty that lies within. People can do and say and suffer some monstrous things that are not “the things” themselves. You’ll want this unique collection on your summer reading list! TENT CITY

You can find Chris on Twitter here: @ChrisJCascio.

The Breakfast Club © Jamie Miller

Creative Nonfiction, #22, Spring 2022

Catherine Con, Mangifera Indica
Brad Gibault, The Myth of Pat
Mark Lucius, When You Wish Upon An All-Star
Beverley Stevens, A Proper Sunday Lunch
Marianne Worthington, Young and Red-headed

Featured Artist

Jamie Miller

The Spring issue is live, and the #BarnhillPrize is open. Life is good!

Catherine Con is back with another lush mystery-tinged narrative; this time her words bring us into a sensuous, dream-like meditation on wild mangoes. Brad Gibault leverages both humor and Greek mythology to explore his relationship with his school bus driver, Pat. Mark Lucius brings us back to witness how, at 10 years old, he faced more grown-up ethical decisions than have some adults and changed the athletic resumes of more than one person. Beverley Stevens sets a place for us at her grandmother’s formal dining table. Marianne Worthington uses her poet’s heart perspective on memories of her mother, angels, ghosts, and more.

And Jamie Miller with her art — well, you know how I feel about that.

EDG

P.S. And the #BarnhillPrize is open for submissions!

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).”

Untitled © Christopher Cascio

Creative Nonfiction, #21, Winter 2021-22

Wendy Fontaine, Green Pepper Standoff
Garry Howze, Learn Your Letters
Ann Kathryn Kelly, Propped
Dana Shavin, All You Can't Eat
Catherine Stratton, Our Secret
Melissent Zumwalt, The Swing Set

Featured Artist

Christopher Cascio

Not sure how we accomplished this, but today, February 1, is both the release of a new issue of Longridge Review AND opening day for submissions to our next issue. It would be groovy to believe I can accomplish this on the regular, but I think I’ll simply be grateful for the confluence.

Speaking of gratitude, I am awash in awe over our writers and artists. I feel this way every time we roll out an issue, but never take it for granted. Part of my mind holds back on expecting to love “the next issue” as much as I love the one or ones before it.

(Apparently, the universe is not humming along to the tune of my personal limitations Who knew, right?).

The diversity of CNF form, subject, tone, and conflict in these pieces is rich. You might notice a loose connection between all of them to relationships with fathers or father figures; in my first reads I didn’t notice it, but during the editing process it was impossible to miss. I learn so much from our writers, from their transparency and their willingness to dig deep, to put their humanity and that of those who brought them up in front of us readers and say, “This is who I was, who they were, and therefore part of who I am.”

What gets to me in this issue is how brave people can discover and own important turning points in their lives. There’s always a pivot, and I can feel the writers turning toward their personal sun. We don’t always see them walk into it, but somehow, I know they do.

Enjoy!

EDG

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