Gail Wilson Kenna Creative Nonfiction Prize Category
First Prize: $100…. Second Prize: $50…. Third Prize:…. $25
“Creative nonfiction is not making something up but making the most of what you have.” This statement is from the masterful writer, John McPhee. Annie Dillard writes of “time’s scrawl and your daring a necessity.” Her phrase speaks to our human need to shape and share experience through language. What the creative nonfiction writer enjoys is the freedom to use a fiction writer’s techniques: point-of-view, dialogue, multiple time frames. As the judge of this category, I would like to read truthful, authentic stories in 3000 or fewer words. I hope to hear a compelling voice, in whatever emotional register the writer chooses; and to read a vividly rendered story or narrative essay which lingers with me for its soul-making.
GAIL WILSON KENNA (Kilmarnock, VA) has lived and taught in Germany, Malaysia, Venezuela, Colombia, as well as Chapman College in California, and American University in D.C. Since 2005 she has been an instructor for Rappahannock Community College in Virginia, creating writing and literature courses each year. Gail’s contributions to magazines and newspapers are numerous, as are her writing awards. In 2012 the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference awarded her the Donald Axinn fiction scholarship for a novel-in-progress. Gail’s five books include Along the Gold Rush Trail, republished in 2020 as Here to There and Back Again, The Face of the Avila, The Story of a Contrary, Contumacious Cat, and Beyond the Wall, a memoir of interrelated stories about her four years working with incarcerated North Americans in Venezuela’s infamous prisons. The book, awarded a Puffin Foundation grant in 2000, was widely distributed to journalists, policy makers, and organizations concerned with the “war on drugs” in South and North America. A revised, second edition of Beyond the Wall was printed in 2020. In the 2022 National League of American Pen Women’s Biennial Letters Competition, Gail won first place in the Grace Wofford Essay category for “The Ukrainian Connection,” first in the Journalism category for “Separation,” and third in the Flannery O’Connor short story category for “Loss of Face.” Gail’s latest book, A Soul-Making Keats Collection: Award-winning Writing of Gail Wilson Kenna, is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Bookshop.org.
A native Californian, Gail now resides with her husband on a creek off the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia’s Northern Neck, three hours from Washington, D.C., where their two adult daughters live.
- First Prize: Erica Goss of Eugene OR
- Second Prize: Porter Huddleston of Fort Collins, CO
- Third Prize: Francis Flavin of Sparks, NV
2021 Honorable Mentions
Nancy John Philipp of Marana, AZ for “For What Remains
John Kevin Allen of High Ridge, MO for “Behind the Veil”
Anthony J. Pizzo of Tampa, FL for “Justified Decisions”
Julie Pesano of Sausalito, CA for “Signs of Life”
Sara Etgen-Baker of Anna, TX for “Beacons of Hope”