A Brief and Necessary Madness | Kirk Wilson

A murderous sheriff, an indigent ex-baseball star, and a lone boy trying to make sense of the madness his town has grown accustomed to. In his stirring recollection of small-town Texas, our Nonfiction Winner’s empathetic portrayal brings each character to life and his lyrical prose makes the essay sing. —NMW

Anomie | Britton Gildersleeve

Nonfiction Writing Contest 24 (2009)
First Place

I revised this piece so many times – adding, subtracting, changing…maybe because like all my work, it bridges the gap between what I experienced and what I know/feel about that experience. To paraphrase Forster, how do I know what I feel until I see what I write? Writing isn’t just about the words on the page, but about living and how you construct it… about exploring who you are, what the world expects you to be, mapping an intellectual and emotional cartography. And being able to send those maps out again, rejection after rejection after rejection… — Britton Gildersleeve

Wildfire-Hellfire | Ralph Ryan

‘Wildfire-Hellfire’ was one of many hair-raising experiences I lived during a fourteen year wild land firefighting career. It was the most exciting time of my life and after reliving the adventures over and over again in my mind, I’ve come to the point where I want to tell my story. Transforming thoughts to paper has been as challenging an adventure as it has been enjoyable. I love the craft and strive to put the reader with me, as totally into the moment as possible, to let them feel the intensity. For me, that’s the magic of words. —Ralph Ryan

Snake Dreaming: Speculations on Human and Reptile Consciousness | M. Garrett Bauman

Poetry Writing Contest 24 (2009)
First Place

I began this piece by narrating my encounters with snakes. But it remained flat until I accepted that something deeper was going on. Time for research. Reptile science proved to be as poetic as myth and symbols; I grudgingly came to realize that snake “dream” consciousness painfully exposes humans’ failure to evolve beyond our primitive, violent origins. At the same time I felt a comic detachment from the reptile “philosophy,” much as we regard our own dream state. You cannot simply write what you already know. Writing must change your ideas or it is merely report writing. — M. Garrett Bauman

Cracking Open | Patricia Brieschke

Nonfiction Writing Contest XXIII (2008)
First Place

Listen to your work as you read it aloud. Ears don’t lie. Rewrite, then rewrite again. Put it aside for a while, then return and rewrite again. Read it to someone whose ear you trust and embrace the feedback, If they say “get rid of a phrase, a sentence, a section, a character,” take however long you need to stew, then open yourself to the critique. If you cut material, stash it in your own slush pile to be used somewhere else. The slash and burn part of writing is exhilarating. And, yes, less is more.. — Patricia Brieschke

Requiem for a Dream | Laura S. Distelheim

Poetry Writing Contest XIII (2002)
First Place

Soon after the incident conveyed in “Requiem” occurred, I realized that, in coming to know this man and in witnessing the injustice done to him, I had been privy to both the heroism and the evil which lie, often unsuspected, beneath the surface of ordinary lives. My hope in writing this piece was to draw both of them into the light. — Laura S. Distelheim


Subscribe to the Newsletter

Join NMW's 10,849 Subscribers

Loading cart ...
Scroll to Top