Short Nonfiction Contest Past Winners

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.


April 8, 2019 — Anna Hartford Wins 2019 KR Short Nonfiction Contest

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

  • First Prize: Anna Hartford: “Hello Fridge
  • Runner-up: KT Sparks, “Saving Luna
  • Runner-up: Benjamin Garcia, “The Great Glass Closet
  • Honorable Mention: My Tran, “The Black Cake”; and Dasom Yang, “Memory Collage 1”

Judge Geeta Kothari writes:

Winner: “Hello Fridge”

Elegiac and compelling, “Hello Fridge” surprised me with its scope and depth. It’s an essay about a refrigerator, but it’s really an essay about the beginning and end of a relationship. The fridge, a Defy D210, features “adjustable leveling feet, variable thermostat, sealed crisper. Small: human-height, or thereabouts.” The lover has neither a name nor a body and exists largely in email communications. And yet, in the end, the reader feels the narrator’s deep sense of regret. I loved the completeness of the essay, and Anna Hartford’s skillful use of a single, everyday object to tell a story about love and loss.

Runners-up: “Saving Luna,” and “The Great Glass Closet”

In “Saving Luna,” KT Sparks uses the life and death of a lamb to frame her meditation on farm life. Line-by-line, the writing is gorgeous and unsentimental. I was also impressed by the pacing and the completeness of the piece, always a challenge in short prose.

Because I love an essay that plays with form and language, an essay that in itself defies easy categorization, I was drawn to the “The Great Glass Closet.” Benjamin Garcia relies on fragments, repetition and wordplay to illustrate the fluidity of language—and identity. It’s a layered, complicated piece that demands the full attention of the reader.

This year, we are delighted to name two essays that have earned an Honorable Mention in the Kenyon Review Short Nonfiction Contest: “The Black Cake” by My Tran and “Memory Collage 1” by Dasom Yang.

The winner and runners-up will be published in the Mar/Apr 2020 issue of the Kenyon Review and will appear concurrently on KROnline in March 2020.

Back to Short Nonfiction Contest Submission Guidelines Page.