The Monadnock Essay Collection Prize




Announcing Anne Barngrover as the 2018 Monadnock Essay Collection Prize judge!

Anne Barngrover’s second book of poetry, Brazen Creature, was recently published with University of Akron Press. Her poems have appeared in CrazyhorseEcotoneCopper NickelNorth American Review, and others, and her creative nonfiction can be found in River Teeth. She is an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Saint Leo University, where she is on faculty in the low-residency MA program in Creative Writing. Anne lives in Tampa, Florida. Visit her online at




The Monadnock Essay Collection Prize

• The prize will be awarded for a book-length collection (120-160 pages) of nonfiction essays

• The essays can take any form: personal essays, memoir in essay form, narrative nonfiction, commentary, travel, historical account etc.

• The essays must NOT have been previously published as a collection

The cost to enter this competition is $25.00 per manuscript (entrants may submit multiple manuscripts) and the winner will receive:

• $1,000 prize money

• Publication of their collection

• 50 copies of the published book

• Distribution with our other 2019 fall titles through our partner UPNE (University Press of New England)

Read our complete submission guidelines here!

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The 2017 Monadnock Essay Collection Prize Results

Thank you to everyone who submitted their collections! Our 2017 judge Andrew Merton selected Kirsti Sandy’s essay collection She Lived, and the Other Girls Died as the winner from among many worthy submissions. We look forward to publishing Sandy’s collection with our 2018 fall titles. 

We would like to also congratulate this year’s three finalists:


Baptizing the Dead by Michael Palmer of Forest Park, IL

BLUR & Other Essays by Kerry Muir of Berkeley, CA

Over the River and Stabbed to Death: Essays by Randy Osborne of Atlanta, GA


Judge Andrew Merton writes: “She Lived, and the Other Girls Died: Essays, is a compelling coming-of-age memoir that opens in the blue-collar city of Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1974, when the six-year-old protagonist, shuffled among various caretakers, first hears the word “Watergate.” It chronicles her adventures, misadventures, shifting perspectives, and gradual loss of innocence during the tumultuous 1970s and ’80s as she moves with her family from Lowell to nearby Andover, Massachusetts—a world away in demographics and values—then five years later to the posh lakeside town of Gilford, New Hampshire, and finally, to an all-women’s Catholic college in Nashua. At each stop the narrator portrays herself as both outsider and insider, struggling to find her place in her school, her town, her world, and introduces us to fascinating characters, among them the girl’s middle-aged, disco-dancing parents; a brilliant, cross-dressing eight-year-old boy who channels Olympic gymnast Nadia Comăneci; the troubled, adulterous eighth-grade English teacher whose hero is Nazi general Erwin Rommel; and the Mustang-driving high school classmate who is dating a 25-year-old married man. These flawed, complex individuals are portrayed unsparingly but with great empathy.


The book ends with a riveting coda, as the narrator, now in her forties, married, with a young child, takes a terminally ill friend on a road trip through Vermont and New Hampshire ending at Santa’s Land, a closed and decaying theme park, before she flashes back to 1977, where a little girl, “…from her bedroom in Lowell, . . . surrounded by the crumbling remains of a glorious planned city of industry and prosperity, will nonetheless be raised to believe that she can do anything, be anything.” The entire manuscript is infused with a generosity of spirit that is most refreshing in these difficult times in which we live.”


Kirsti Anne Sandy teaches creative nonfiction, memoir, and narrative theory at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire, where her students inspire and motivate her every day. Her work has appeared in The Boiler, Under the Gum Tree, Natural Bridge, and Split Lip, among other journals, and she was the recipient of the Northern New England Review’s 2017 Raven Prize for Creative Nonfiction. She lives on a hill overlooking the mountains of Vermont with her husband, daughter, and, at last count, twenty-six pets (her daughter counts each fish individually.) She started She Lived, and the Other Girls Died in 1994, when she was a student in Doug Hesse’s and David Foster Wallace’s creative nonfiction workshop. This is her first book.


Andrew Merton is a journalist, essayist, and poet. Publications in which his journalism and essays have appeared include Esquire, Ms. Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Boston Magazine, The Boston Globe, and the Green Mountain Review.  His book Enemies of Choice: The Right-To-Life Movement and Its Threat to Abortion, was published by Beacon Press in 1980. His poetry has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Rialto (U.K.), Comstock Review, Louisville Review, the Asheville Poetry Review, the American Journal of Nursing, and elsewhere. His first book of poetry, Evidence that We Are Descended from Chairs, with a foreword by Charles Simic (Accents Publishing, 2012) was named Outstanding Book of Poetry for 2013–2014 by the New Hampshire Writers’ Project. His second book of poetry, Lost and Found, was published by Accents Publishing in 2016. He is a professor emeritus of English at the University of New Hampshire.


The 2016 Monadnock Essay Collection Prize winner was Neil Mathison of Seattle, Washington with his collection Volcano: An A to Z and Other Essays about Geology, Geography, and Geo-Travel in the American West


This was the debut of our annual essay contest. Many thanks to everyone who submitted collections and helped us spread the word about the contest. Our judge was Alice B. Fogel and she chose Mathison’s collection from among many worthy entries!


Volcano: An A to Z and Other Essays about Geology, Geography, and Geo-Travel in the American West by Neil Mathison of Seattle, Washington

Finalists were:

Without Saints by Christopher Locke of Upper Jay, New York

Wordwalks by Chris Arthur of Fife, Scotland

Honorable Mentions went to:

In the House of Magic and Sorrow by Mark Brazaitis of Morgantown, West Virginia

A More Exceptionally Perfect America: Essays & Impertinent Thoughts by Michael Konik of Los Angeles, California

Fingerprints of War by Sara Ohlin of Everett, Washington

Yahrzeit Candles by Deborah Thompson of Fort Collins, Colorado

Areas of Fog by Will Dowd of Braintree, Massachusetts