2020 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference Announces Awards Recognizing Nation’s Top Writers

Friday, October 30, 2020 - 14:35

DENTON (UNT), Texas — As part of its first ever virtual conference, the 2020 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference announced the winners of its annual writing contests, recognizing some of the nation’s best writers and outstanding high school students.

The conference, which was held virtually due to COVID-19, took place Oct. 16-18, featuring panelists who addressed a wide range of topics tied to this year’s theme, 20/20: Bringing Truth into Focus. Conversations focused on everything from covering the coronavirus pandemic, social and racial justice and disinformation. Featured speakers included National Book Award winner and UNT ’02 grad Sarah Broom, author, “The Yellow House,” two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Gene Weingarten, author of “One Day,” and Peter Baker, who along with Susan Glasser, have written, “The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III.”

“This year’s winners once again represent a collection of stories from journalists whose work will take your breath away,” said Neil Foote, director of the conference. “We’re proud to recognized these experienced and aspiring writers.”

Jim Dale, conference manager, added, “I’m always inspired when I read these writers’ works. They reassure me that great journalism is still happening all around the country.”

This year’s winners, chosen by a panel of veteran journalists, include:

In the Best American Newspaper Narratives category, created to recognize the very best narrative stories published in American daily newspapers, winners are:

The Manuscript competition, which looks for the most original, creative and compelling work, offers the first-place winner a provisional publishing contract with UNT Press and $1,500 in prize money. The winners are:

  • First place – Bret Schulte for “Flanagan: The Untold Tale of the World’s Greatest Orphanage and America’s Last Celebrity Priest”
  • Second place – James H. Nichols for “Letters with my Father: Opiates, Marijuana and the Rise of Political Nihilism”
  • Third place – Ione Hunt von Herbing for “Our Broken Oceans: What Went Wrong with our Oceans and One Woman’s Journey to Save What’s Left”

The Ten Spurs Awards are broken into two categories: Reported Narrative and Personal Essays. Winners are published in the Mayborn’s Ten Spurs Journal. Winners are:

  • Reported Narrative
    • First place ($1,500 prize) – Alice Robinson for “Sheltering in Place Without a Shelter”
    • Second place – Harriet L. Blake for “The Dad We Didn’t Know”
    • Third place – Christine Heinrichs for “Condor in the Blaze”
  • Personal Essays
    • First place ($1,500) – Molly Adams for “How to Bloom”
    • Second place – Cindy L. Corpier for “Susceptible: Measles to COVID-19”
    • Third place – James A. Keith for “They Call Me Keith: A Narrative of Cycles”
  • Runners-up
    • Lindsey Bertrand for “Leaving Wonderland”
    • Risa Brown for “Aroma of Coffee”
    • Frank Christlieb for “The Laughing Survivor”
    • Amanda Woodard for “Crossroads”

The “Young Spurs” category was created a decade ago to recognize and celebrate the work of a select group of high school students. Their work will be featured in the Ten Spurs Journal. Winners in this category are:

  • Celine Choi
  • Mallory Garner
  • Kelly He
  • Jacob Kidd
  • Grace Krinhop
  • Stefany Lopez
  • Emily Martinez
  • Ana M. Rojo-Mayorga
  • Ruby Perry-Mize
  • Ayanna Rucker

The final contest allowed anyone to enter a six-word story via Twitter using #mayborn2020story. The winner, submitted by Twitter user @amb_balam, a Dallas-Fort Worth area journalist, was “Sorry, lost connection, what’s going on?” Other entries can be seen here.

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