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!

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

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!

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

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.

Please visit our website for more detailed guidance: https://longridgereview.com/submit/

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

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

***

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.

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.

Photo by Andrew Wegmann

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.

Things to do today:

Read the 2019 #BarnhillPrize-winning essay here:  
Suburbs Plagued by Foraging Deer
and the 2020 winner here:
4 Generations of Black Hair Matters
Mike Smith and his children

Miriam Glassman, The Bibliosquatter
Therése Halscheid, Incident
Kent Jacobson, What She Didn’t Say
Janine Kovac, Breaking Character
Sharon Waters, Straight Hair Be Damned
Hannah Williams, Ring and Rabbit

Featured Artist

Chloe W.

My World © Chloe W.

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.

Thank you for your support.

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.

Thank you!

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’s 2021 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 Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction

“Though the surroundings were lovely, there was an underside to all that beauty.”

Anne Barnhill


Submissions open June 1 – July 31, 2020.

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.

Essay Guidelines:

  1. 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.
  2. Essays should be double-spaced and no more than 3,500 words in length.
  3. The award recognizes outstanding creative nonfiction that reflects our mission: (See About)
  4. Essays are only accepted via our Submittable online platform. No paper, please.
  5. Please be sure essay pages are numbered and that your name is NOT on the document that is your essay.
  6. Please use a standard, easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman in twelve-point size.
  7. Essays may not have been previously published.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Please forward any questions to edg (at) longridgeeditors (dot) com. Thank you!

©Carlos Culbertson, featured artist Issue 3, Spring 2016

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is randalowain.jpg
Photo by Amie LeeKing

We are thrilled to announce that Carter Sickels will award the 2020 Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction.

Carter’s novel The Prettiest Star is 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.

Things to do today:

Read the 2019 #BarnhillPrize-winning essay here:  
Suburbs Plagued by Foraging Deer