John Backman has a difficult memory of disappointing his mother; except he doesn’t remember it. He remembers the feeling of something he may have invented himself. What, if anything, actually is real about what he feels, and can he give his three-year-old self a way out after 60 years?
Melissa Greenwood‘s narrative is less than 400 words and still may leave a reader out of breath. She brings us into a chaotic home and tells us, “at a precocious 10, I’m the only adult in this house.” This is a difficult but important reminder of the heavy burdens children bear in domestic violence situations, and how profoundly aware they are of being trapped on all sides.
James Morena. I don’t even know how to begin to give you a heads up (pun intended) on this wild, weird, funny, and a little heartbreaking narrative of a little boy who opened the door to a big surprise. When you’re home with no one but your dog, and someone insists you open the door and you do and…..well, you just have to read it and find out.
Rina Palumbo crafts a frightening scene, sharing a bedroom with her asthmatic sister. Nights would start out well, and but morph quickly into distress. This piece really got to me. Rina brings us into that room, into that fear, and into the desperation of self-harm to escape emotions.
Mike Wilson writes about his bicycle, and so much more. Boy meets bike, boy bonds with bike, boy loses then is reunited with bike. But something has changed. This is a beautiful narrative about love, loss, and growing up.
Finally, I am delighted to share the nature art photography of Colleen Anderson. Colleen is a writer, songwriter, and graphic designer in my hometown of Charleston, West Virginia. I always enjoy her textured imagery and I hope you will, too.
We will be back on February 1, 2023, to open submissions for our Spring issue. Thank you for reading and for sharing the online literary landscape with us.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.)
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.
Have a 2021 resolution to submit more of your work? Or maybe you want to kick off 2022 that way……. either way, we’ve got you covered in our submission window!
Take a look at what we do, and if you have something that might match, we’d love to read your work.
Our mission is to present the finest essays on the mysteries of childhood experience, the wonder of adult reflection, and how the two connect over a lifespan.
We are committed to publishing narratives steeped in reverence for childhood perceptions, but we seek essays that stretch beyond the clichés of childhood as simple, angelic, or easy. We feature writing that layers the events of the writer’s early years with learning or wisdom accumulated in adult life.
We welcome diverse creative nonfiction pieces that depict revealing moments about the human condition.
We will consider one creative nonfiction piece (up to 3,500 words) per submission period. Please do not submit more than once during the reading period. Individual authors will not be published more than once per calendar year.
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).
Congratulations to our finalists for the Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction!
Anita Cabrera (San Francisco, California)
Catherine Con (Greer, South Carolina)
Carroll Grossman (Louisville, Kentucky)
Douglas Imbrogno (Huntington, West Virginia)
Lina Lau (Toronto, Ontario)
Beatrice Motamedi (Oakland,California)
Paulina Pinsky (Brooklyn, New York)
Frances Thomas (Brooklyn, New York)
We are exceptionally proud to present these writers and their outstanding essays. Out of over 60 submissions, our editors chose these eight to forward to contest judge Mike Smith. Mike has made his choice, and we will announce the winner on Monday, October 4; on that date we will also post links to each essay, along with bios of these talented writers.
Thank you for your support of this contest. Our goal is to keep the spirit of Anne Barnhill alive in the writing world she loved so much, as well as to offer recognition and reward opportunities for writers who “present the finest essays on the mysteries of childhood experience, the wonder of adult reflection, and how the two connect over a lifespan.”