Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference awards $18,000 in cash prizes in writing competitions

Monday, July 25, 2016 - 13:30

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- David Collins of Fulton, Missouri, 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 2016 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.

Collins' manuscript, "Accidental Texas Activists: Mark Phariss, Vic Holmes, and their Fight for Marriage Equality in the Lone Star State," tells the story of two ordinary men who challenged Texas' ban on same-sex marriage.

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 more than 400 participants who are interested in writing narrative nonfiction to learn from renowned journalists and storytellers in different genres. This year's conference was July 22-24.

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and Reported Narrative contests to recognize extraordinary literary journalism and creative nonfiction from writers of unpublished works. 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 23 at the conference's Literary Lights Dinner, which featured Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Sheryl WuDunn as keynote speaker. 

The first-place Book Manuscript 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 -- Sallie Moffitt of Ovilla, Texas, for "The Disobedient One," a memoir detailing the author's upbringing in a religious environment that required absolute obedience to the words of the Bible.
  • Third place -- Kerri Fisher of Waco for "Black, White, Other: Stories of Race, Wonder and Self-Integration," a memoir about the author growing up in a mixed race family.

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 2017 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. The winners are: 

Reported Narrative:

  • First place, sponsored by the Dallas Morning News -- Frank Christlieb of Arlington for "A Family Shattered, A Life Wasted." Christlieb learned as adult that he was adopted. In his narrative, he describes his determination to locate the family he never knew existed, discovering that his biological father had met a tragic end.
  • Second place, sponsored by Anna and Nick Ricco & Ricco Family Partners -- Mary Pfeiffer of Plano for "Searching for Sarah Powell."
  • Third place, sponsored by Joe Dealey Jr. -- Leeanne Hay of Plano for "The Children Left Behind."

Personal Essay:

  • First place, sponsored by the Dallas Morning News -- Leta Cunningham of Denton for "My Mother's Bread," about the author's struggle to overcome an eating disorder.
  • Second place, sponsored by Anna and Nick Ricco & Ricco Family Partners and Dorothy Bland, dean of the Mayborn School of Journalism -- Casey Manuel of Arlington for "Jay Money."
  • Third place, sponsored by Joe Dealey Jr. -- Seema Yasmin of Dallas for "Tornado."

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

  • "Can I Get a Witness?" by Meta G. Carstarphen of Norman, Oklahoma.
  • "Birdsong" by Philip Kelly of Newport Beach, California.
  • "Mourning a Mother Still Here" by Melissa Stoeltje of San Antonio.
  • "Milledgeville: A Bird Sanctuary" by Sue Whatley of Nacogdoches, Texas.