The Monadnock Essay Collection Prize

The judge for the 2021 Monadnock Essay Collection Prize is Steven Harvey

Steven Harvey’s newest book is Folly Beach, a personal essay about easing fears of mortality and loss through creativity. He is also the author of The Book of Knowledge and Wonder, a memoir about coming to terms with the suicide of his mother published by Ovenbird Books as part of the “Judith Kitchen Select” series. In addition he has written three collections of personal essays–A Geometry of Lilies, Lost in Translation, and Bound for Shady Grove–and edited an anthology of essays written by men on middle age called In a Dark Wood.  Two of his essays have been selected for The Best American Essays Series:  “The Book of Knowledge” in 2013 and “The Other Steve Harvey” in 2018. Over the years, fourteen of his essays have been recognized as notable by that series as well, and he was twice honored as a finalist in the Associated Writing Program’s nonfiction contest. He is a professor emeritus of English and creative writing at Young Harris College, a founding faculty member in the Ashland University MFA program in creative writing, a contributing editor for River Teeth magazine, and the creator of The Humble Essayist, a website designed to promote personal prose. He lives in the north Georgia mountains.

Submission Guidelines

• 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 $30.00 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 2021 fall titles through our partner Casemate IPM .

Read our complete submission guidelines here!

The 2020 Monadnock Essay Collection Prize winner

Áine Greaney selected Adjustment Disorder: A Collection of Maladjusted Essays by Patrick Mondaca as the 2020 winner. We offer him our heartiest congratulations!

We also offer congratulations to the two finalists:
Cindy Skaggs of Falcon, Colorado, for her collection: Invisible Me: A Memoir in Essays
Anatoly Molotkov of Portland, Oregon, for his collection: A Broken Russia Inside Me: Essays on Place
Áine said this when she let us know about the winner/finalists: “There were some that were really breathtaking. So it was a very tough choice, with the toughest part of all being which of the final ten to shortlist down to the final three.”

Áine Greaney is an Irish-born author who never published anything until she emigrated from Ireland to America, alone, at age 24. Since then (1986), she has published five books. Her shorter works have been published and broadcast in the U.S., Ireland, the U.K. and Canada in publications such as Creative Nonfiction, NPR/WBUR, The Boston Globe Magazine, Numero Cinq, Salon, The Drum, New Hibernia Review, Litro Magazine, Cyphers, Books Ireland and other outlets.  

The 2019 Monadnock Essay Collection Prize winner

Anne Barngrover selected the collection Baptizing the Dead and Other Jobs by Michael Palmer of Forest Park, Illinois as the winner. Michael will receive $1,000, publication with our fall 2019 titles including distribution with Casemate Group, and 50 author copies.

Anne also selected two finalists:

Did You See the Sky by Rachel Jamison Webster of Evanston, Illinois.

Divinations: Essays on Place by William Cordeiro of Flagstaff, Arizona.

Congratulations, Michael!

Michael Palmer’s work has appeared in Bellingham Review,CutBank, Georgetown Review, The Collagist, Alligator JuniperWest Texas Literary Review, and numerous other publications. He received his PhD in English-Creative Writing from Texas Tech University. He won the Great Plains Emerging Writers Prize in 2015. He grew up in Utah and currently lives in Forest Park, Illinois.

Anne said of Michael’s collection:

“I was struck from the first sentence by the crystalline narrative voice—sometimes uncanny, sometimes weird, but always precise, unflinching, and painfully self-aware—and the experimentation with form as a way to dig deeper and question ideas of religion, family, place, community, masculinity, death, and the self. These essays, and their narrator, wouldn’t shake from me after I read them. I wholeheartedly recommend Baptizing the Dead and Other Jobs.”

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 2017 Monadnock Essay Collection Prize winner

 She Lived, And the Other Girls Died

Kirsti Sandy

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.”

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.

Contest 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

The 2016 Monadnock Essay Collection Prize

 Volcano: An A to Z and Other Essays about Geology, Geography, and Geo-Travel in the American West. 

Neil Mathison

Neil Mathison’s writing explores the many ways in which the physical world influences our lives. He muses on heritage, boats, and the sea; ponders how living in the shadow of a volcano shapes a person; and ties the physical world to deeper themes of human life, such as relationships and personal tragedies.

“Geology is the story of change over time. So, too, are Mathison’s beautifully written travels across the landscapes of geography, family, marriage, love, catastrophe, and resilience. Volcano: An A to Z is a book to be read and returned to again and again.”

—Adrienne Ross Scanlan, author of
Turning Homeward: Restoring Nature in the Urban Wild

Neil Mathison is an essayist and short story writer who lives in Seattle, Washington, Friday Harbor, Washington, and Ketchum, Idaho. A US Naval Academy graduate, he has been a naval officer, a nuclearengineer, an expatriate businessman living in Hong Kong, a corporate vice president, and a stay-at-home-dad. His work has appeared in The Ontario Review, Kenyon Review, Georgia Review, Southern Humanities Review, North American Review, and elsewhere. The title essay of this collection, “Volcano: An A to Z,” was recognized as a notable essay in Best American Essays 2010. A second essay, “Wooden Boat,” was recognized as a notable essay in Best American Essays 2013. Mathison’s short story, “The Cannery,” won the 2013 Fiction Attic short story contest and was published in Modern Shorts: 18 Short Stories from Fiction Attic Press.

Photo by Will Wrobel

Alice B Fogel is New Hampshire’s poet laureate. Her 2015 collection, Interval: Poems Based on Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” won the Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature and the New Hampshire Literary Award in Poetry. Her previous book, Be That Empty, was a national poetry bestseller. She is also the author of the guide for readers and teachers, Strange Terrain, on how to appreciate poetry without necessarily “getting” it. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and other awards, her poems have been anthologized in Best American Poetry, Poet’s Choice, and elsewhere, and have been nominated nine times for the Pushcart Prize. She works one-on-one with learning disabled students at Landmark College in Putney, Vermont, and lives in Walpole, New Hampshire.

Contest Finalists:

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