The Short Nonfiction Contest

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The Kenyon Review Short Nonfiction Contest Winners

April 6, 2020 — Miriam Grossman Wins 2020 KR Short Nonfiction Contest

We are pleased and excited to announce the winners of the second annual Kenyon Review Short Nonfiction Contest.

  • First Prize: Miriam Grossman: “2004”
  • Runner-up: Mary O. Parker, “Currents and Eddies”
  • Runner-up: Stella Li, “Mouthwater”

Judge Ira Sukrungruang writes:

Winner: “2004”

It is the little moments that make “2004” an astounding essay—the quiet tension marked by fruit, the unspoken struggle between mother and daughter, between daughter and body, between body and its sense of visibility. Here, Grossman writes about the reflection seen in the mirror of mothers and daughters; but like most mirrors, in time, they begin to crack.

Runners-up: “Currents and Eddies,” and “Mouthwater”

“Currents and Eddies” haunts. It sticks with you. Envelops you as a river would. It harkens to those moments when youth comes roaring back. With it: guilt, confusion, joy, and the thought we all once had—that would last forever, that danger could never happen to us until it does.

Secrets. Body. Family. “Mouthwater” is an essay that side steps with lyrical grace the conflict no ones wants to address.This is the true tension of this piece—what is not said, what sits silently in the psyche until one begins to suffocate.

The winner and runners-up will be published in the Mar/Apr 2021 issue of the Kenyon Review and will appear concurrently on KROnline in March 2021.


2020 Guidelines

The contest is open to all writers who have not yet published a book of nonfiction. Submissions must be 1,200 words or fewer. Ira Sukrungruang, author of the memoirs Southside Buddhist and Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy, will be the final judge. The Kenyon Review will publish the winning short essay in the Mar/Apr 2021 issue, and the author will be awarded a scholarship to attend the 2020 Writers Workshop in Gambier, Ohio. Additional info on the Writers Workshop is available here.

Submission Guidelines

  • Writers must not have published a book of creative nonfiction at the time of submission. (We define a “published book of creative nonfiction” as a memoir, book of essays, or other creative nonfiction collection written by you and published by someone other than you in print, on the web, or in ebook format.)
  • Essays must be no more than 1,200 words in length.
  • One submission per entrant.
  • Please do not simultaneously submit your contest entry to another magazine or contest.
  • Please do not submit work that has been previously published.
  • All entries will be read blind. Before you submit, please remove your name and any other identifying information from your manuscript.
  • The submissions link will be active December 1st to 31st. All work must be submitted through our electronic system. We cannot accept paper submissions.
  • A $24 entry fee will be collected at the time of submission. Each entrant will receive a one-year subscription to the Kenyon Review which will start with the Mar/Apr 2020 issue. Current subscribers will receive a one-year extension on their current subscription. Please note: we are only able to offer domestic print subscriptions for this special contest rate. If you live abroad (including Canada), we will happily provide you with a digital-only one-year subscription to the magazine.
  • Winners will be announced in the late spring. You will receive an e-mail notifying you of any decisions regarding your work.

Submit Now

Click here to view the past winners of the KR Short Nonfiction Contest