Here are links to jump right to what’s in our latest issue! Rather than writing summaries of each piece, we are trying something new with #19. Using Facebook and Twitter, we will post pull lines from each essay throughout the coming week, paired with links to the writing.
There’s an impressive blend of craft styles in this issue: flash, braid, lyric, bespoke structure. It’s gratifying to attract and publish such quality work. Dive right in, or follow us on the socials and let your mind dine with leisure as we serve up the good stuff all week.
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.
We are thrilled to announce that Mike Smith will award the 2021 Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction. Mike is Anne’s son, and we are over the moon that he will be our judge this year.
Mike Smith lives with his family of seven deep in the Mississippi Delta. He’s previously published nonfiction, poetry, and fiction in translation with independent and academic presses. Most recently, his published work is Contemporary Chinese Short-Short Stories (Columbia University Press) and the memoir, There Was Evening and There Was Morning: Essays on Illness, Love, and Loss(WTAW Press), which documents the strange set of coincidences between his first wife’s illness and death and his stepdaughter’s similar illness and recovery three years later. Three years ago, his mother, Anne Clinard Barnhill, named him her literary executor, leaving behind two unfinished manuscripts for him to complete.
This issue has a bully thread running through it; the essays range from humorous to painful, and remind the reader that childhood is often a rollercoaster of dodged threats, unwanted pursuits, emotional crises, and coming to terms with how to best situate what other people put us through so we can move on with our whole lives.
Childhood can be funny, heartbreaking, and dangerous; and some parts of it are unforgettable.
In The Bibliosquatter, Glassman confesses her childhood secret life at the library; and by secret we mean secret. You can’t help but be impressed and awed by the lengths she goes to while escaping her personal bully. What were 1970s parents doing again?
Halscheid’s flash piece recalls the meanness of boys who waited for her daily, harassing her and mocking her appearance as she tried to best cover her starving body during her father’s illness. The narrator’s loneliness becomes something we can’t un-feel.
Jacobson’s haunting memories of a girl he loved and her unexplained disappearance from his life linger like salty air or soft flowers; the entire narrative feels like something evoked from a mysterious scent, something that triggers a sense of loss but exchanges what it takes for something beautiful.
In Breaking Character, Kovac’s childhood ballet takes a Lord of The Flies turn that, while bringing a laugh, also owns up to how we feel deep desires and rages even when very young — emotions and wants on a level that feel familiar from an adult perspective. (Her recounting of a teacher’s memories of winters in Germany is not to be missed. You’ll appreciate The Nutcracker on a new level.)
Waters tries to make peace with her mother’s obsessions with what other people think of her and her family. Many readers will recognize the experience of trying to please a parent who cannot be satisfied, and spending years seeking the best way to accept that parent and to love oneself.
Finally, Williams explores a relationship that spans childhood to adulthood, and that reveals some uncomfortable truths about competition, judgement, and control in unexpected places. Readers no doubt will recognize some version of this evolution in their own lives. The reappearance of the rabbit (What is the rabbit, in fact?) towards the end of the essay is a brilliant touch.
Come read and enjoy!
The writers have worked hard to bring you their experience, wisdom, and places for empathy and understanding. Our team of readers and editors are privileged to assist.
P.S. Submissions open soon for our next issue: February 1, 2021-April 2, 2021.
It is our great pleasure to announce that Marsha Lynn Smith is the 2020 winner of The Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction. Her essay, 4 Generations of Black Hair Matters, was an early favorite in the submission process, and was named the best of the best by contest judge Carter Sickels. Sickels writes:
“I was impressed by all of the wonderful essays I read for The Barnhill Prize, and I want thank the writers for sharing their work.
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 memories of her mother working over her hair with a hot comb or getting her first natural at a barber shop in Chicago, or keenly examining why generations of Black women embraced or rejected particular hairstyles, the narrator of this essay is smart, supple, and 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.”
Congratulations to Marsha, 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.
Marsha Lynn Smith is completing a memoir highlighting a rocky romance with a jazz musician, juggling single motherhood and her surprise career as a Hollywood publicist. Her work has or will be published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, River Teeth, and Rigorous. Also, her essays will appear in the print journals of Genre: Urban Arts’ Femme Literati Mixtape No. 2, and Madville Publishing’s2021 essay anthology,Being Home. She likes to read historical fiction novels, and admits to binge-watching international TV dramas. Follow her on Twitter: @real_marsha
Desi Allevato lives in central Virginia with her husband, where they are raising one child, two cats, and a hundred tree saplings in a suburban backyard. She has a brain tumor, ADHD, and an unfinished dissertation about Russian history, and assumed her life was pretty ordinary until a friend told her should write about it. She is a contributing writer to Grow Christians. Follow her on Twitter, @desirosie.
Elana Margot is a writer of poetry, autofiction, and creative nonfiction based in the Bay Area. Her writing has been published in The Goose: A Journal of Arts, Environment, and Culture in Canada, and Undercurrents: A Journal of Critical Environmental Studies. Her work centers the practice of writing into grief, embodiment, childhood subjectivity, queerness, and animality. Follow her on Twitter: @ElanaMargot
Vanessa Remmers is a former journalist who is now working to tell her own stories. You can find more of her work on Twitter @RemmersVanessa or at vanessaremmers.journoportfolio.com
Cheryl Skory Suma launched her writing career with a YA fantasy novel, Habitan, which made the longlist of the 2019 Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards. She won Blank Spaces 2020 (March) Flash Fiction Contest, was longlisted for both Pulp Literature’s 2020 Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest & Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize, received an Honorable Mention for Spider Road Press 2020 Flash Fiction Contest, was a finalist for Exposition Review’s Flash 405 (April 2020), and her second novel, gods Playground, was a ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Competition semifinalist. Her poetry has appeared in La Piccioletta Barca and Public Poetry’s Enough Anthology. In 2019 she was also a semifinalist for Ruminate Magazine’s VanderMey Nonfiction Prize and shortlisted for Hippocampus Magazine’s Creative Nonfiction Contest, Blank Spaces Flash Fiction contest and the Erbacce Prize for poetry. Cheryl has a Masters of Health Science in Speech-Language Pathology and a B.Sc. in Honors Psychology. Her website is cherylskorysuma.com. Follow her on Twitter: @cherylskorysuma
The Barnhill Prize honors Anne’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.
Selection process: Editors determine the pool of up to 10 finalist essays. Finalist essays will be read by an outside judge who selects one winning essay. The author of the winning essay receives a cash award of $250. The winner has ten days to accept the award. More information about this year’s judge, Carter Sickels, can be found here: #BarnhillPrize judge 2020.
Eligibility: The competition is open to writers in English, whether published or unpublished. Previous winners of this award are not eligible to win again. Writers must be residents of North America.
Current or former students of the contest judge should NOT submit their work to this contest; the same goes for anyone who personally knows the judge in any regard.
Essays should be double-spaced and no more than 3,500 words in length.
The award recognizes outstanding creative nonfiction that reflects our mission: (See About)
Essays are only accepted via our Submittable online platform. No paper, please.
Please be sure essay pages are numbered and that your name is NOT on the document that is your essay.
Please use a standard, easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman in twelve-point size.
Essays may not have been previously published.
Authors may submit more than one essay to the competition for consideration as long as no material is duplicated between submissions. Each submission will require a separate entry fee.
Essays under consideration for this competition may be submitted elsewhere at the same time. Please withdraw your essay if it is accepted by another publisher and should no longer be considered for the Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction competition. Withdrawal can be completed via the submissions manager website. Entry fees ($10 per submission) are not refundable.
The final judge will not be aware of the names or publication records of the authors. If he believes he recognizes the work or identity of the writer, he will disclose that to our editors.
Please forward any questions to edg (at) longridgeeditors (dot) com. Thank you!
We are thrilled to announce that Carter Sickels will award the 2020 Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction.
Carter’s novel The Prettiest Staris forthcoming from Hub City Press in 2020. He is the author of the novel The Evening Hour (Bloomsbury 2012), an Oregon Book Award finalist and a Lambda Literary Award finalist. His essays and fiction have appeared in a variety of publications, including Oxford American, Poets & Writers, BuzzFeed, Guernica, and the Bellevue Literary Review. Carter is the recipient of the 2013 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award, and earned fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the MacDowell Colony. He is an assistant professor of English at Eastern Kentucky University, where he teaches in the Bluegrass Writers low-residency MFA program.
It is our great pleasure to announce that Mary J. Mahoney is the first winner of The Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction. Her essay, Suburbs Plagued by Foraging Deer, captured our editors’ eyes early in the submission process, and was named the best of the best by contest judge Randal O’Wain. O’Wain writes:
“What initially drew me to ‘Suburbs Plagued by Foraging Deer’ was the confident narrative voice. I felt at once that I was in the hands of a complicated storyteller, a storyteller that understands how necessary it is to consider the complexity of the human condition without relying on easy 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.”
Congratulations to these writers, 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.
Mary J. Mahoney earned an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Houston. She is an associate professor of English in New York. Her work has been published in many literary venues, including The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, and more. She is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment of the Humanities.
Elizabeth Lantz holds an MFA degree in creative nonfiction from The Ohio State University and currently teaches creative writing at Columbus State Community College. Her work has been published in Kenyon Review, American Literary Review, South Dakota Review, and others.
Dorian Fox is a writer and freelance editor in Boston, where he teaches courses at GrubStreet, a non-profit creative writing center. His essays have appeared or are forthcoming in The Rumpus, Gay Magazine, Atticus Review, december, Under the Gum Tree, Gastronomica, and elsewhere.
It’s always exciting for us at Longridge Review to get publishing news from one of our essayists. Mike Chin’s short story collection, You Might Forget the Sky Was Ever Blue (Duck Lake Books, September 2019), is out this month. Do not miss Mike’s thoughts, ideas, and advice about his work and the writing life . . . and don’t forget to order his book!
Q: You Might Forget the Sky was Ever Blueis your first full-length short story collection. Congratulations! The book includes stories about a third grade teacher in Baltimore trying to make sense of the 2016 election campaign to students, a teenage sexual assault survivor making his way through a changed world, and a boy is raised to believe he’s Hulk Hogan’s little brother. Though fiction, they sound inspired by real life. Can you talk a bit about how the genres of fiction and creative nonfiction relate as well as diverge?
A: I’m a big believer that nothing in life happens in a vacuum. Everything affects everything else, and that very much includes the pop culture we ensconce ourselves in, which might include politics, music, movies, television, and even professional wrestling.
Rather than playing coy in a (likely as not futile) effort to make the stories timeless, a number of these stories lean into their surrounding culture from the real world to enrich the characters and setting. The first story in the collection, “Prophecy,” is very much set during the 2016 presidential election campaign and uses social media as a source of chronic tension throughout. The story “Brother” uses Hulk Hogan’s evolution as a public figure as a backdrop for understanding the protagonist’s place in life and worldview.
Q: Book promos say Sky includes experiments in form with a social conscience. What exactly does that mean?
A: Two stories in particular—“Prophecy” and “Better”—lean into collage style structures that jump around a lot. In the former, the story aims to gather a bit of what it was like to be an average citizen during an especially tumultuous moment in American history. Conversely, “Better” uses its snippets to span a lifetime, gathering snapshots across decades that the reader can piece together to understand the whole.
In regards to the social conscience of the book, some of the glue that binds this manuscript includes leaning into uncomfortable conversations around political leadership, sexual assault, how we society treats people from the LGBT community, and more. Rather than taking a ‘there are good people on all sides’ stance, the collection, or at least the characters from these stories, do take positions, and it’s up to the reader to decide whether or to what degree they agree—but at least (I hope) they’re thinking.
Q: Your essay forLongridge Review, The Bionic Elbow: On Fathers, Sons, and the American Dream, has elements in it I recognize in Sky; there may be more. I really love that essay, the way you braid in and out of seemingly disparate experiences like professional wrestling, fatherhood, emerging sexuality, parental expectations, death/loss –somehow you make it all connect. Do you have any special process for this kind of writing, do you plan to do it in advance or do you just write and weave it together as you go?
A: I’ve experimented with this style of writing (most directly influenced by Maggie Nelson) in a number of pieces—fiction, non-fiction, poetry. Typically, I’ve drafted pieces like this in a pretty linear fashion, truly letting my mind wander and make organic connections. I will admit that there’s a deceptively high level of revision typically required after that first draft, though, to buff out the pieces that really are more flights of fancy than essential to the text, and to make connections that feel clear enough to me more explicit for readers living outside my head.
Q: Do you have a favorite story in Sky? What is it and why?
A: While I’d probably call “Prophecy” my favorite for its structure, contemporary concerns, and bits and pieces borrowed from my own life, I’ve probably already spent too much interview space talking about that one. So, I’ll go to the next one down the line, the title story, “You Might Forget the Sky was Ever Blue.” It connects to the story that comes before it in the collection, “The End of the World,” which ends on a traumatic experience. “You Might Forget” picks up on the aftermath, which I feel is too often given short shrift in storytelling—the more administrative pieces of school officials sorting through a messy issue and how that intersects with someone’s personal experience. It’s a story that was largely born out of the years I spent as an administrator for an educational program, taking those less glamorous behind the scenes tasks and carving some art out of them.
I’m a prolific drafter and feel pretty adamant that, if I like a piece of writing, I’d rather see it out in the world somewhere than sitting dormant on my hard drive.
Q: You publish a lot of writing, with work either in or forthcoming in over 200 publications. What advice do you have for other writers about getting your work out there?
A: I’m a prolific drafter and feel pretty adamant that, if I like a piece of writing, I’d rather see it out in the world somewhere than sitting dormant on my hard drive. So, I make conscious effort to submit regularly and widely, not being afraid to shoot for the stars with the pieces I most believe in, or to take a chance on a less established venue with pieces I’m not as confident will connect with editors. I know some folks prefer to be more selective about where they publish, and I can respect that, but for those who may be more interested in publishing widely, I advocate for getting in listservs and social media groups that advertise calls for submissions you might not come across more organically. There’s such an advantage to placing work with venues that are actively seeking submissions (especially from less established writers) as opposed to only submitting to publications that already have overwhelming submission queues.
Q: What’s the best way for readers and writers to keep up with you and your work? (website, Twitter, etc.)
A: I’m active on Twitter and publicize most anything I publish there. I also try to keep my website up to date, and I update my blog at least twice most months.
Ask the Editoris a resource for our readers and writers in which we review and respond to popular questions about our journal, essay writing, submissions, and literary potpourri type stuff. Have a question you’d like to see answered here? Send it to edg dot longridgeeditors dot com. Chosen questions will be kept anonymous.
Q: “I’m wondering if essays will also be considered for the online journal outside of the contest?”
A: The short answer is YES, but the complicating factor is we don’t yet know exactly how. We are planning to send up to 10 essays to our judge, and ideally the essays that are not the prize winner will be published online. That is the plan at this point. We don’t know how many essays we will receive, though so far we are off to a good start!
We are grateful to everyone who supports our journal, and we read every essay with focus and care.
Like many online journal editors, we’ve had a range of experiences: Essays we declined, but then returned to the writer with more time to work through revisions and the writer was thrilled; essays we declined and then later returned to the writer to work on and he/she was not interested; essays we’ve accepted with moderate edits, and some with no edits. Some essays could not work for us.
Publishing essays is what we love to do. Thank you to each of you who gives us a chance to read your work.