December 2020: Winner of the 2020 Indiana Review Creative Nonfiction Prize!
Cannot express how thrilled I am that Bassey Ikpi chose my essay, “On Desire,” as the winner of the 2020 Indiana Review Creative Nonfiction Prize! So many thanks to you Bassey Ikpi, to the editors and readers, & to all my brilliant friends who read so many drafts of this one.
So grateful for Bassey Ikpi’s words.
You can read Ikpi’s full review of “On Desire” here.
February 19, 2020: Finalist for The Chattahoochee Review’s 2020 Lamar York Prize in Nonfiction
Excited to learn that my essay, “Perfectly Fine,” was named a finalist for The Chattahoochee Review’s 2020 Lamar York Prize in Nonfiction.
“Perfectly Fine” is also an excerpt from my memoir-in-progress.
2020 Lamar York Prize Winners and Finalists
Winner for Fiction
“With Mercy to the Stars,” Lisa Nikolidakis
A wonderful and surprising coming-of-age story about two Greek teenage girls, an unwanted pregnancy, and a dancing bear named Callisto. I was totally drawn in from the first page, happy to be in the company of a young narrator who is just starting to glimpse the limitations of the adulthood that awaits her, as confining as the cage that houses her father’s prized bear. The story forces the narrator to make a choice that will have ramifications for her, her best friend, and her family—and fully initiate her into the world of choice and consequence. A powerful story that is a pleasure to read from the opening sentence to the harrowing last line.
Winner for Nonfiction
“Catharsis, Diagnosis,” Rachel Toliver
“Catharsis, Diagnosis” begins as straightforward memoir and blooms into something stranger and more wonderful: a treatise on the obsessive-compulsive act of storytelling, analysis of a classic graphic novel, a meditation on how comics tell stories, and on how our lives, with their nonsensical, sometimes brutal vignettes, resemble comics. This piece offers no easy epiphanies, no cliché narrative diagnoses—it seems to struggle, in fact, between twin impulses to say nothing and to say too much. In the end, this is the essay’s hard-won brilliance, as it wrestles with its obsessions and compulsions, achieving a profound synthesis of form and content.
Finalists for Fiction
“Jacinto Shaves,” Margherita Arco
“With Freedom Comes Possibility,” Melissa Bowers
“The Trail,” Omer Friedlander
“Sunlit Charms of the Bareheaded Soil Eater,” L. A. Harris
“Wild Quaker Parrot,” Janis Hubschman
“Soon the Light,” Gina Ochsner
“Butterflies,” Craig O’Hara
“The Iranian Double,” Ajay Patri
“Sad Bird,” Pascha Sotolongo
Finalists for Nonfiction
“The Parade,” Mary Birnbaum
“Paylessness,” George Choundas
“House Training,” Kathleen Flann
“The Blue House,” Jiadai Lin
“Vigilance,” Laura Marshall
“Perfectly Fine,” Caitlin McGill
“How Harriet the Spy Saved My Life,” Beth Richards
“Ninja Assassin,” Arielle Schussler
“Obsessive Tendencies,” Michael Shorris
September 11th, 2019: Free Workshop at the Somerville Public Library
Please join me for this creative writing workshop, made possible by the Somerville Arts Council and the Somerville Public Library.
August 2019: Off to work at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference again!
July 2019: Kimmel Harding Nelson Center Residency
I’m REALLY grateful for this award of time and space to work on my book.
I’ll be in Nebraska City revising, re-structuring, and getting ready to (hopefully/finally/eventually) send this manuscript out.
My resident bio is now up on Kimmel Harding’s website–check it out! 🙂
June 2019: Fine Arts Work Center – Provincetown
Who knew I’d be staring down a new genre in the midst of revising a nonfiction book?
Off to Wellspring House for a residency. Time to revise.
The Muse & the Marketplace: April 2019
Time to talk more writing this weekend
@GrubWriters’s Muse & the Marketplace! Join me and the ever wise @AlysiaAbbott for “From Personal History to Social History: Getting Beyond the ME in Memoir”–Friday, 4/4/19, @ 3:45. #Muse19
“Every writer of memoir and personal essay is at some point dogged with the question: who cares? As creative nonfiction writers, we can see beyond this question by locating socio-historical stories within our personal narratives, uncovering tales that are about much more than the individual narrator.
In this session, we’ll offer tips and techniques for identifying larger themes in your work, including how to avoid common pitfalls, and how to incorporate reporting techniques (such as interviews, historical research, and old advertisements and commercials) without losing your engaging personal voice. We’ll also provide examples from authors like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Nick Flynn, and Jesmyn Ward, examining how personal narratives are often inseparable from larger histories, communities, and movements. You’ll leave with several examples and take-home writing exercises that will jump-start your efforts to expand the scope of your nonfiction narratives.”
What a pleasure it was to talk #essaying and #teaching with these women.
Off to AWP ’19! Catch me and this wonderful group of women essayists and teachers at our panel on Saturday, 3/30:
S129. I Teach, Therefore I Essay: Essaying the Classroom
D137-138, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Saturday, March 30, 2019
9:00 am to 10:15 am
Gail Griffin, Jennine Capó Crucet, Caitlin McGill, Mg Roberts, & Marjorie Gellhorn Sa’adah
Thrilled to learn that I’ve received an Artist Fellowship Grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council/Somerville Arts Council! I’ve loved living and writing in the Somerville artist community for the past two years, and am so grateful for the award.
September 7th, 2018:
After returning from a beautiful two weeks at Bread Loaf, where I worked on the conference staff this year, it’s suddenly time for fall events to begin!
Really looking forward to being in conversation with Mimi Schwartz, author of the new essay collection, When History is Personal, at Porter Square Books. Please join us on September 17th at 7pm! Mimi will read from her new book, and then I’ll facilitate a conversation and Q&A. https://www.portersquarebooks.com/event/mimi-schwartz-when-history-personal
More on Mimi’s important collection:
“When History Is Personal contains the stories of twenty-five moments in Mimi Schwartz’s life, each heightened by its connection to historical, political, and social issues. These essays look both inward and outward so that these individualized tales tell a larger story–of assimilation, the women’s movement, racism, anti-Semitism, end-of-life issues, ethics in writing, digital and corporate challenges, and courtroom justice.”
June 13th, 2018:
Really excited to learn that my essay, “Window Curtains,” was named a finalist in the 2018 Iowa Review Award in Nonfiction, as well as the 2018 Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction Prize!
June 13th, 2018:
After an incredible two weeks at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, I’m finally settling back in at home and excited to keep my writing momentum going. I’m so grateful to the VCCA for the gift of time and space. And a whole lot of staring at (walls of) chapters.
June 7th, 2018:
Enrollment details here: “Registration begins now for our first workshop, in Creative Nonfiction, at the Boston Public Library’s Central Branch. Enrollment is free and spaces are limited. To sign up, contact: Programs@bpl.org”
May 10th, 2018:
I’ll be spending the next two weeks at a writing residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA). I’m really eager to meet the other fellows, and to focus on revising my memoir, Dogs Run Wild Here.
For published excerpts from my book, please visit my Writing page.
And for more information about my VCCA Fellowship, feel free to take a look at the press release below:
April 30th, 2018:
Overwhelmingly excited to learn that my essay and memoir excerpt, “Window Curtains,” is 1 of 3 Finalists in The Southampton Review’s 2018 Frank McCourt Memoir Prize. Thankful to all the readers and editors for their time, consideration, and this honor. Huge congratulations to all the winners and finalists!
April 16th, 2018:
Big thanks to Mike Steinberg for inviting me to contribute to his blog. I’m very grateful for the chance to expand my ideas on teaching and essaying in this piece, “I Teach, Therefore I Essay.” Thank you, Mike!
April 4th, 2018:
Such an honor to present with the incredibly talented and wise Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich at GrubStreet’s 2018 Muse & the Marketplace Conference. I had so much fun discussing imagination and research during our talk, “Imagining the Gaps in Memoir: How to Write a Story When the Story Runs Out.” If you haven’t read Alexandria’s memoir yet, you must get your hands on The Fact of a Body: A Murder & a Memoir.
March 12th, 2018:
Still thinking about the incredibly nuanced, important talks my fellow panelists gave at our AWP ’18 panel, “A Question of Class: The Art of Writing from Below the Middle.”
I’m extremely grateful to our moderator, Jeannine Ouellette, and to panelists Jonathan Escoffery, Bao Phi, and Michael Torres. Their words are moving and vital–I urge you to read more of their work. It was an honor to present with them.
March 9th, 2018:
I’m honored to be joining this important AWP ’18 Panel: “A Question of Class: The Art of Writing from Below the Middle.” Very eager to hear from Jonathan Escoffery, Jeannine Ouellete, Bao Phi, and Michael Torres, and to discuss my work with Writers Without Margins and our commitment to increasing access to literary arts.
February 14th, 2018:
Thrilled to be named a finalist in The Chattahoochee Review‘s 2018 Lamar York Prize in Nonfiction. Thank you to the readers, editors, and contest judge, Sarah Gerard. And congrats to all the winners and finalists!
2018 Lamar York Prize Winners and Finalists
We’re grateful for the abundance of imagination and artfulness in this year’s Lamar York Prize entries. Thank you to all of the writers who entered, with a special thanks to our judges, Sarah Gerard for Nonfiction and Alexander Weinstein for Fiction.
Winner for Fiction
“A Day in Which Something Might Be Done,” Michael McGuire“A beautiful story reminiscent of the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Laura Esquivel. What captured me from the start was the confidence of the narrative voice and the lushness of the dream-sentences, which then give way to a story about love and healing, the inequities of indigenous life, and the prophecy of dreams. Gorgeous writing and masterful storytelling.”
Winner for Nonfiction
“Concaves,” Deborah Thompson“‘Concaves’ is a stirring recollection of love, cancer, racism, and war, interlocking like fluorescent-lit jigsaw pieces in a hospital waiting room. It is also a profound meditation on our metaphors for illness, as limited as they are necessary, and the tender connections among people bonded by grief. A penetrating reminder that life writes itself, it has continued to resonate with me long since I read the last word.”
Finalists for Fiction
“The Goddess of Beauty Goes Bowling,” Chaya Bhuvaneswar
“The Shark,” Dinah Cox
“The Hunger of the Very Rich,” Elizabeth Crowell
“Simultaneous Operations,” Wyatt Dowell
“Last Meal,” Molly Edmonds
“Deadly Astrologies,” Sacha Idell
“Schwinn King,” Terrance Manning
“Take Flight,” Connor McElwee
“Deadfalls,” Jeffrey Voccola
Finalists for Nonfiction
“The Wrack Line,” Mary Birnbaum
“Here Is How I Come Undone,” Caroline Burke
“26 Ways to Say Good-Bye,” Denise Duhamel and Julie Marie Wade
“The Future Perfect,” Michael Gracey
“Window Curtains,” Caitlin McGill
“Push,” Jeannine Ouellette
“How My Body Was Made,” Terry Ann Thaxton
“Biography of a Nickname,” Jeffrey Wasserboehr
“Specimen,” Amy Wright
February 3rd, 2018:
Wonderful afternoon of words at The Middle East!
February 3rd, 2018:
I’ll be a featured reader at the Dire Literary Series this February! Please join me and my talented co-readers, Dave Kiefaber and Anna Ross, at The Middle East Restaurant & Nightclub in Cambridge, MA. I plan to read from the opening pages of my memoir-in-progress.
November 2nd, 2016:
It was a pleasure to read at the St. Botolph Club Foundation’s “New Voices, New Vision” event on Wednesday. I’m immensely grateful to receive this Emerging Artist Award, which will help fund my next research trip to Latvia. This trip will be an essential part of my memoir project. You can find a list of the other five award recipients in Literature here, as well as a list of the recipients in Music and Visual Arts.
October 12, 2016:
I’m honored to be reading with Jerald Walker in the Faculty/Alumni Series at Emerson College on October 12th, 2016 at 4pm. Free and open to the public!
September 13, 2016:
I’ve just learned that my essay, “Silent Interrogations,” was named a notable essay in Best American Essays 2016!
I’m so grateful to The Southeast Review for publishing my essay.
August 8, 2016:
After embarking on a pilgrimage to Slovakia where part of my Jewish family emigrated from in the 1890s, the regional newspaper ran this article. Rough translation of the title: “American Arrives in Humenné to See Where Her Ancestors Came From.”
This journey will be a key part of my memoir-in-progress, Items to Survive.
I’m honored to have my story published in the language my ancestors once spoke. It’s striking to see my and my great-great grandmother’s name (Esther) in print, side-by-side.