2019 NONFICTION WINNERS
Gwen Benaway’s “Pussy” from carte blanche
"Recognizing the injustice of having to do this work, I still want to talk about my pussy. I want to talk about my pussy because Iím pissed off that my vagina was described as an unending wound in a national publication. I want to talk about my pussy because I think itís useful in understanding the problem is expecting any part of your body to make you happy. I want other trans girls considering surgery to have another account to help them make a challenging life decision. At the same time, itís important to acknowledge that the only reason weíre having this public conversation is because itís about trans women. Our bodiesóespecially our genitalsóare forced to do the work of justifying our lives."
Megan Dorame’s “Papaavetam / Water People” from The Offing
"I was born from a spring of water; I slipped right out of the ground. I am not comparing myself to Creator; I am only saying I am made of water; I am only saying I flow to the sea."
Sara Eliza Johnson’s “Xenomorph” from Bright Wall/Dark Room
"Some wounds hide themselves to stay open, in love with their own hurt. You search for wounds in everyone and everything because youíre wounded in a nebulous way, and so you look throughout the world for the one that is a mirror or a twin of yours."
Mercedes Lucero’s “Model Survivors” from Jellyfish Review
"When the details start coming in, no one blames the model survivor after learning alcohol was involved and that they were both heavily intoxicated. No one blames the model survivor at all, in fact."
LaTanya McQueen’s “Portrait of an American Male” from TriQuarterly
"This is a nice, handsome-looking boy, like an articulate and well-dressed former football player with prom-king good looks. His face is narrow and punctuated with sharply peaked eyebrows, like a pair of air quotes. He looks like any 20-something or 30-year-old with his short-on-the-sides, long-on-the-top haircut. He is dapper, a buttoned-down millennial, in his dark suits and ties, or he is decked out in white polo shirts and khakis, or he wears neat jeans, button-down shirts, cargo shorts. He wears jeans and striped pullovers that look like they could have come from the sale rack at a local Gap. He wears clothes that are acceptable and appropriate, clothes that make him look like he belongs."
Debra J. Stone’s “Grandma Essie's Vanilla Pound Cake” from Random Sample Review
"Now, when I open a bottle of vanilla extract adding it to my own vanilla pound cake, the aroma is weak, bland; itís not the same. Iím sure Grandma didnít cut corners; she used the pure vanilla bean."
Jane Wong’s “To Love a Mosquito” from Shenandoah
"How swiftly a life can change, how easily. We can kill a mosquito with the palms of our hands, just like that. And just like that, my fatherís gambling debts pile so high, it becomes a mountain no one can climb, and the restaurant fails and we must go. A postal worker, my mother almost gets laid off and ends up working night shift for so many years, she develops vertigo. Just like that, her cochlea wobbles and she vomits, but she refuses to go to the hospital. She stays at home and we stay with her. Everything happens so quickly, time collapses. My brother and I forget to grow up."