Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize
Scott Russell Sanders to judge the 9th annual Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize.
Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize Submission Guidelines
Fourth Genre will seek the best creative nonfiction essay for its eighth annual Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize. Authors of previously unpublished manuscripts are encouraged to enter.
The winning author receives $1,000 and the winning entry will be published in an upcoming issue of Fourth Genre. Runner-up entry will be considered for publication.
Submissions that do not comply with these guidelines will be recycled unread. Please read all of the following carefully PRIOR to submission.
Complete entry fee checks fully and correctly; include with submissions.
• Reading period: January 1-March 23. Submissions must be postmarked on or before March 23.
• Reading fee: $20 (U.S.) per entry
• Make checks payable to “Michigan State University Press”
• Multiple submissions accepted; include $20 entry fee for each individual submission
• Include in cover letter (one page limit): name, address, phone number, email address, title of piece, and approximate word count
•The author's name or contact information should appear nowhere in the manuscript, including headers, footers, and title pages. No names should appear in the manuscript that could be used to identify the author or the author's affiliations.
• 6,000 word limit (Longer submissions will not be read)
• Winners will be announced at http://www.msupress.msu.edu/journals/fg; all manuscripts recycled
• Current Michigan State University students, faculty, and staff are not eligible to enter the Fourth Genre Michael Steinberg Essay Prize Contest.
• Electronic submissions will not be considered
• For manuscript receipt confirmation, include a self-address stamped postcard
• Contest status queries will not be accepted
• Winner and runner-up (if applicable) announced at the end of April
Send submissions to:
Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize
434 Farm Lane, Rm. 235
Dept. of Writing, Rhetoric & American Cultures
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1033
8th Annual Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize - Results are in!
Fourth Genre is proud to announce the finalists for the 2012 Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize. This year's entries were judged by Marcia Aldrich.
Winner: Anne Penfield, "The Half-Life"
Award-winning essayist and former Fourth Genre editor Marcia Aldrich, judge for the 2012 contest, wrote about the winner:
"This is a quiet essay, written with restraint and a steady focus, and its emotional impact accumulates and is devastating by the end. The essay is rooted in the narration of the day, the third day that her husband has gone missing, by taking us through all the tasks she alone must attend to in his absence--getting children fed and off to school, managing the range of animals on the small farm, negotiating the mess she finds herself in. Her husband has survived his military deployment and returned home. However, his battle with alcoholism has led him to go missing in his civilian life. The writer slips in the emotional anguish as cleanly and quietly as an expert diver splits the water on entry. Anguish ferments under the surface of the essay, doing its steady damage up to the end. Sometimes these quiet assassin essays get overlooked among the flashier writing. This one stayed with me for days and drew me back to it."
Runner-up: Elena Passarello, "Harpy"
Marya Passarello, "Strip"
Robyn Richey Piz, "Altered State"
Kathryn Winograd, "Of Wind and Fire"
Elizabeth Mosier, "The Pit and the Page"
Neal Snidow, "Meter to the Black
Daisy Hernández, "Stories She Tells Us"
Emily Carr, "Membership (as the Commercial Says) Has its Privileges"
Lee Reilly, "The Relative Nature of Things"
The winning essay and the runner-up will appear in Fourth Genre 15.1, appearing in spring 2013. All entrants will receive a copy of the issue. Thank you for your continued support of Fourth Genre!
7th Annual Michael Steinberg Essay Prize
Ryan Van Meter, Judge
Winner.......... “The White Space” by Jennifer De Leon
Runner-up.... “The Wish to Be a Red Indian” by Damian Van Denburgh
This year, Fourth Genre’s 2011 Michael Steinberg Essay Prize received over 300 submissions, and choosing a winner from such a pool of talent was difficult.
Of “The White Space,” Ryan Van Meter wrote:
The White Space’ reminded me that even very ordinary stories can make surprising, beautiful essays. What could be simpler than a daughter helping her father write his resume? But as the essay demonstrates through its clever use of form, the complexity and specialness of life experience doesn't always fit neatly in our most agreed-upon documents, and I kept thinking afterwards of all that's contained in our white spaces that we're not invited (or allowed) to share. I also admired the writer's honesty, and the way she stepped aside to let her father grab the bulk of the reader's sympathy. I loved him very much.
Of “The Wish to Be a Red Indian”:
There was an obvious command of material and language from the very start of ‘The Wish to Be a Red Indian,’ which carries through to its end. And the writer did an enviable job of inviting me to feel his complicated understanding of his father through a beautiful range of moments -- lovely and difficult in turns. I was most impressed by the feat of writing an ultimately sympathetic portrait of an enigmatic and hard-to-love man.
In addition, we are pleased to announce the following selected Finalists:
- Jacob Steele..............“The Uniform”
- Jacob Appel...............“Livery”
- Eileen Reynolds........ “My Pronoun Problem—And Ya’ll’s”
- Kathryn Winograd..... “Heresies of the Holy”
- Nina Yun...................“Kimchee”
- Matthew Frank..........“Silk, Allergies, Sisters, and Incompleteness”
- Dan Roche................ “The Expressionists: The Intimate Craft of Making Eyes”
- Greta Schuler............ “Empty Boxes”
All entrants will receive Fourth Genre 14:1in the spring of 2012, which will include the selected essays as well as a 40% discount coupon toward a one-year subscription.
We look forward to receiving more work in the future, both during our regular reading period (August 15 - November 30) and during future Essay Prize contests. We’d especially like to thank everyone for their continued support of Fourth Genre.
6th Annual Michael Steinberg Essay Prize
Our judge, Michael Steinberg, chose the following essay as the winner in the 2010 Michael Steinberg Essay Prize:
1st Place: "Circling My Father" by Sandell Morse
Judge's Comments: This is a compelling narrative about a late middle-age woman's struggle to come to terms with her resentment toward her strong-willed, judgemental father, a man she describes as "cantankerous and mean." But, after a late life stroke has "turned him nice," she begins to wonder about her deepening ambivalence. Her internal struggle takes place largely during an unfortunate mountain hike where, deep in thought, the narrator, an experienced hiker, loses her bearings and cricles back "not once, but twice."
As she tries to find her way down the mountain, she suffers a head injury from a fall. And, for the remainder of the piece, she interweaves her struggle to survive the fall with thoughts about her old habit of measuring her own will and determination against her father's imagined judgments.
"I am not a quitter," she writes. "My father has made sure of that..."
In this profoundly human essay, the writer skillfully juxtaposes her anxieties and concerns about her immediate physical troubles with her increasing uncertainties about her relationship with her father.
Toward the end of the essay, she writes, “All of my life, I have heard his voice inside of me. Or is it my own voice I hear? What's mine? What is his? Will I ever know?"
Finalist: "Genesis" by Andrew Hood
Judge's Comments: In this lyrically rendered meditation, place, in this instance, the bayou of the narrator’s childhood, functions as both a force of nature and a central character in the narrative. I admire the convincing, skillful way the writer utilizes the bayou as a catalyst for his young narrator’s doubts, hesitations, and uncertainties about the dangers that lie beneath its surface.
As a child, the narrator defines and measures his emotional growth by his shifting relationship to the bayou. Initially a scared, uncertain kid, by the end of the essay he has evolved into a more sober, reflective presence. Over time, his perceptions of the bayou change from his initial impressions of it as threatening, malevolent force, to his acceptance of it as an indifferent, even neutral, setting. And as those perceptions are altered so does his sense of himself change.
After the random, accidental death of his generous spirited, protective grandfather, the narrator says. "For the first time in my life I saw, not some furious alien world swirling with alien creatures, but a body of water and the life it sustained, all of which existed whether I did or not, whether my grandfather existed or not. The mystery was dissipating and for the first time in my life, I understood the bayou as a mere geographic fact."
"The Cockroach and the Essayist" by Lucas Mann
"The Father of Disorder" by Jessica Wilbanks
"Houses Without Cellars" by Benjamin Busch
"Human, Swimming" by Marsha McGregor
"The Shape of Fear" by Sarah Gorham
"Between Shock and Knife" by Felicia Rose Chavez
"Good Idea #3: peanut butter" by Priscilla Kinter
"Ghost Story" by Annie Nilsson
"The Language of Men" by Anthony D'Aries
5th Annual Editors' Prize Contest Results
Our judge, Jocelyn Bartkevicius, chose the following essay as the winner in the 2009 Editors' Prize:
1st Place: "Swim, Memory" by Megan Nix
Finalist: "How I Learned The Gospel By Heart And Stopped Saying Damn" by Josh MacIvor-Anderson
"Red Hot Broken Girl" by Paula Brancato
"Louisville, 1953" by Judy Copeland
"Solving for P" by Emily Hipchen
"Putting Girls on the Map" by Irene Keliher
"Middle Ground" by Daisy Levy
"Bodies in Motion" by Kim Liao
"End of the Road" by Jeremy Lloyd
"Emptying Gary’s Garage" by Daniel Roche
4th Annual Editors' Prize Contest Results
1st Place: "The Last Cows" by Kathryn Wilder
Finalist: "The Dying Tradition" by Sara Lippmann
"This is My Body" by Charlotte E. Sullivan
"Nothing Like We Planned" by Laura Newton
"Homage to a Bridge" by Sonya Huber
3rd Annual Editors' Prize Contest Results
Winner: "Mammalian" by Nedra Rogers
Runner-Up: "Take Me with You" by Casey Fleming
"The Furniture of Memory" by Jennifer Henderson
"Snakeblood" by Kate Ellis
"Sulia" by Kristen Cosby
Blurs" by Emily Lupita Plum
"River of Names" by Vina Kay
"Looking for Some Action" by Jane Satterfield
"Afraid So" by Arthur Saltzman
"Black Raspberry Meditation" by Vanessa Griffin
"The Recesses of High School" by Jo Scott-Coe
2nd Annual Editors' Prize Contest Results
1st Place: "The Fishing Story" by Beth Richards
Runner-Up: "The Scribe in the Woods" by Elizabeth Caroline Dodd
1st Annual Editors' Prize Contest Results
1st Place: "The Molino" by Melani Martinez
Runner-Up: "Gula, Gula--Listen, Listen: Memory and the Map of Childhood" by Mira Bartók