Inaugural Nonfiction Contest Finalists and Winner Announced

Print Friendly, PDF & Email A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments is pleased to announce the finalists and winner of our inaugural nonfiction contest, judged by acclaimed writer, musician, composer, and philosopher-naturalist David Rothenberg:

  • Winner: Elizabeth Dodd for “Sinuous”
  • Finalist: Kelly Hayes-Raitt for “Still Alive”
  • Finalist: Michael Palmer for “Kinds of Quiet”

Here’s what Rothenberg had to say of the finalists and winner:

It has been a pleasure to read the three top entries of the nonfiction category of’s annual writing contest. “Still Alive” presents a haunting, gritty, honest picture of the kind of troubles and confusion the Iraq War has brought to people in the midst of it, a straight story of the kind we rarely get to hear in media-saturated America. The life of an over-caffeinated Brigham Young student in “Kinds of Quiet” who becomes a vacuum specialist is funny, dark, and painfully real in a wandering, wonderful way. But it is “Sinuous” that impresses me the most, with its movement from the direct experience of a snake-shaped petroglyph to a whole history of engagement from archeology, legend, tradition, and literature right into the moment of our attempt to look straight at an ancient image and try to make contemporary sense of it, finding the signal in the noise of history, record, and information.  It is always hard to combine writing based on raw personal experience of something mysterious and magical with all the reading we can do to offer experts’ visions of what our own encounter might actually mean. This author has combined these two elements seamlessly, so it is to this piece that I award this year’s first prize, and congratulations as well to the two fine runners-up.

Elizabeth Dodd will receive the cash prize of $250 and publication in our forthcoming issue, No. 26, with the theme of “The Signal in the Noise.” The issue launches at on September 20, 2010. The issue will also include Michael Palmer’s essay.

Congratulations to Elizabeth, Michael, and Kelly Hayes-Raitt, and many thanks to those who submitted to our first contest. We had a wonderful array of essays from which to choose.


The finalists and winner of the inaugural contest in fiction (judged by Aurelie Sheehan) will be announced on this blog on Wednesday, and the finalists and winner of the inaugural contest in poetry (judged by Jessie Lendennie) will be announced within the next week. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.