The Florida Review would like to announce the winner of the 2018-2019 Jeanne Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award: Lynne Nugent, for her collection of creative nonfiction shorts, Nest. Nugent’s collection will be released at AWP in 2020. Final judge Phong Nguyen had this to say about our winner:
Nest achieves what many essay collections seek to accomplish: it causes the reader to see the world with new eyes. By drawing upon the raw material of motherhood, the author uses this eternal verity and imbues it with her highly idiosyncratic reality, without ever forcing revelations onto this universal subject. The insights that emerge from her telling feel at once natural, inevitable, and sui generis.
Lynne Nugent is the managing editor of The Iowa Review. Her personal essays have been published in the North American Review, Brevity, the New York Times, Full Grown People, Mutha Magazine, and Hippocampus Magazine.
She noted about Nest:
I wrote most of the essays in Nest on my phone while breastfeeding or holding a sleeping baby, intoxicated by love and pheromones but also exhausted and bored, and swinging between those two emotional extremes and needing an outlet. Given the constraints of this kind of writing process, most of them are flash essays, and the overall length of the manuscript is pretty lightweight. Rather than push myself to fit some idea of how long an essay or a book can be, I took inspiration from Sarah Ruhl’s 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write, in which she embraces the fragmentary and incomplete thoughts that can result from motherhood and, well, just life… One thing I didn’t anticipate was the positive reaction to writing a chapbook, not in spite of but because of its brevity: a friend who was also a new mom said, “Thank you for writing something I will actually have time to read.” So the benefits can be to both reader and writer. I see Nest as a product of a moment—technology, feminism, creativity, and ambition, all intersecting with the eternal needs and rhythms of life, especially for those of us involved in taking care of other humans.
We would also like to announce our semi-finalists: My Tran for her three flash fiction pieces, “eleven,” “thirteen,” and “seventeen,” from “My father is housed in a whale,” and Angelo R. Lacuesta and Roy Allen Martinez for their graphic narrative, “Bedweather.” A second short piece by Angelo R. Lacuesta and artist Shaira Luna, “Triple Phantasy,” will appear in Aquifer: The Florida Review Online.
Once again, we would like to say thank you to all the amazing writers who submitted their work for the past year. We are looking forward to reading and seeing all the work that writers are submitting for this year’s chapbook award in the genres of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and graphic narrative. We hope you make it just as hard for us to choose this year as you did last year. The 2019-2020 contest is now open.