Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference awards $12,000 in cash prizes for writing competitions

Friday, August 1, 2014 - 19:40

DENTON (UNT), Texas — Robin Underdahl of Dallas received the top prize of $3,000 and a provisional  book contract with the University of North Texas Press in the Book Manuscript competition sponsored by the 2014 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.

In "Shoot the Conductor," Underdahl, a freelance writer and former instructor for the Writers' Garret, will capture the life of conductor and violinist Anshel Brusilow, who taught in UNT's College of Music for a total of 28 years and was the director of orchestral studies for the college. Brusilow also conducted the Richardson Symphony Orchestra for 20 years.

The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference is hosted each July by the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism in UNT's Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism. The conference brings together approximately 300 participants who are interested in writing narrative nonfiction to learn from renowned journalists and storytellers in different genres. This year's conference was July 18-20.

From its first years, the conference has held its Personal Essay, Book Manuscript and Reported Narrative contests to recognize extraordinary literary journalism and creative nonfiction from writers of unpublished work. This year’s conference awarded  $3,000 each to the first-place winners of the Personal Essay and Reported Narrative, as well as awarding the first-place cash award in the Book Manuscript competition. The second-place winners in all three categories each received $2,000, while the third-place winners in all three categories each received $1,000. The winners were announced July 19 at the conference's Literary Lights Dinner, which featured Lawrence Wright, staff writer for The New Yorker, as the guest speaker.

All six winning Personal Essay and Reported Narrative entries and four runners up selected from these two categories will be published in Ten Spurs, a literary nonfiction journal published by the Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism. The edition featuring this year's contest winners will be published just before the 2015 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.  

The first-place prize was sponsored by Voice Media Group. The second- and third-place winners of this Book Manuscript competition, sponsored by Joe Dealey Jr., of Dallas, are:

  • Second place — Albert Samaha of New York City, a staff writer at the Village Voice, for "Never ran, never will"
  • Third place — John and Anita Porterfield of Boerne, Texas, for "Hasan's Revenge."

The winners in the other categories are:

Personal Essay:           

  • First place, sponsored by The Dallas Morning News — John Vance of Dallas for "Three Questions," in which Vance, a psychotherapist, describes three standard questions that he asks each of his clients and explains how the answers reveal the personalities of his clients. While he observes and analyzes a client, Vance also dissects his own strengths and failings.    
  • Second place, sponsored by Anna and Nick Ricco & Ricco Family Partners — Anne-Marie Corley of Dallas, for "Letter to a Commanding Officer"
  • Third place, sponsored by Joe Dealey Jr. — Sallie Moffitt of Ovilla, Texas, for "Devil Child"

Reported Narrative:

  • First place, sponsored by The Dallas Morning News  — Lindsey Bacon Bertrand of Fredericksburg, Texas, a writer at Hill Country Memorial Hospital and current student in the Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism, for "What Remains." Bertrand, who also received her undergraduate degree in journalism from UNT in 2004, wrote about how she developed a sense of place in Fredericksburg, and how minor personal habits create historic meaning, and the past becomes part of the present, in a small Texas town.
  • Second place, sponsored by Anna and Nick Ricco & Ricco Family Partners — Amanda Griffith of McKinney, for "Iranian Women of Independence"
  • Third place, sponsored by Joe Dealey Jr. — Morganne Cameron of Houston, who received her bachelor's degree in journalism from the Mayborn School in 2013 and is a current student in the Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism, for "Baked."

            The four runners up entries that will be published in Ten Spurs are:

  • "Food Truck Park" by Jonathan Aupring of Fort Worth
  • "Promises to Keep" by Billy Smith of Rhome, Texas
  • "Nest" by Michelle Traylor-Burford of Rowlett, Texas
  • "If the Good Lord" by Amanda Woodard of Dallas

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