2017 Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Contest winner: “Box Set” by Sue Burton

We’re very happy to announce Sue Burton’s “Box Set” as winner of the 2017 contest. Here’s what Faith Adiele (this year’s judge) had to say in choosing Burton’s essay:

“’Box Set’ is a beautiful argument for the lyric essay, demonstrating how the form marries poetry and inquiry to tackle important subject matter, both historic and contemporary, personal and political. The typography and title offer sly commentary on the institutional control exerted over women’s bodies recurring throughout history, while the formal patterning performs how the narrator’s life and work is haunted by unanswered family questions. The essay achieves orature, a masterfully woven tapestry of voices culled from letters, newspaper clippings, whispered rumor, family questions, personal testimony, legal documents, musings.”

“Box Set” will appear in Issue 20.1 in January, available at AWP in Tampa in April.

2017 Fourth Genre Steinberg Contest

Submissions are closed now for the 2017 contest. Writer, activist, and memoirist Faith Adiele has the essays chosen as finalists, and we hope to be able to announce her decision in early June. Find out all about Adiele’s “faith-based initiatives” here.  The winning essay will appear in the January 2018 issue.

2016 contest winner and finalists

Molly Gallentine’s “Powder House” was selected by this year’s judge, Ned Stuckey-French, as the winner of the 2016 Fourth Genre Sternberg Essay prize. “Terminus,” by Wilfredo Pascual, was named runner-up. Both will be published in Volume 19.1 in January (and available @ AWP in DC).

Other finalists:

“A Trial of Wearing Our Dead,” by Riley Bingham
“Ghosts in the Frame,” by Alysha Hoffa
“Etymology,” by Sandra Gail Lambert
“This American Life,” by Jennifer Lee
“Of Rimrocking Right,” by Dale Rigby
“Hot Dog Curry,” by A. Sandosharaj
“We Were…Us,” by Lia Woodall
“Eighty-Eight,” by Jessica Yen

Cate Hennessey’s “Beets” wins a Pushcart Prize …

Published in the fall of 2015 in issue 17.2, “Beets” has been selected by Pushcart editors for Pushcart Prize XLI: Best of the Small Presses, which will appear in cloth and trade paperback in November. We’re ecstatic for Cate!

A new podcast featuring Marcia Aldrich  …

This time on “Off the Page,” we talked with former Fourth Genre editor Marcia Aldrich about how reading, editing, and teaching has influenced her writing.

We’re notable!

Eight essays appearing in Fourth Genre this past year were listed as Notables in Best American Essays 2015! Congratulations to Amanda Giracca, Penny Guisinger, Robert Long Foreman, Judith Adkins, Patrick Mainelli, Patricia Park, Jill Christman, and David Naimon (whose “Third Ear” was also listed in Best American Travel Writing)!

2015 Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Contest winner: “Ossification” by Kaitlyn Teer

We’re very happy to announce Kaitlyn Teer’s “Ossification” as winner of the 2015 contest. Here’s what Kate Carroll de Gutes (judge for this year’s contest) had to say in choosing Teer’s essay:

The narrative in “Ossification” really held me–skeletal and familial without being trite, it’s not just another grandparent narrative. I was surprised, even though the title should have alerted me, when I realized the section headers were actually the spinal markers, and I immediately read the entire piece again, mapping each section’s content to the bony prominences of their headers. I also liked–and I know Judith would have, too–the writer’s use of digression, from science catalogs to black ice to the continuity of standing at the sink doing dishes. Judith believed strongly in digression,  Here’s a bit of her take on it in a piece about lyric essay she wrote for Seneca Review:

“Too bad,” said my wonderful professor, “that you have so many good ideas, and no vehicle with which to express them.” Well, I had a vehicle, but it just wasn’t the one he recognized—the language of the scholarly article. It just didn’t dot the i’s or cross the t’s or proceed logically on its way to its point. It circled and spiraled; it doubled back; it digressed and prodded; it spoke in tongues. And yet I knew I knew what I knew—knew it in ways that, if I thought to remember, sounded a bit like my father’s way of knowing something that he then had to prove. But since there is no such thing as “proof” in literature, it seemed to me that all I had to do was find a way to show the direction of my thoughts. Demonstrate them. Point the reader toward my inconclusive conclusions.

“Ossification” does this beautifully. It spirals like a spine with scoliosis, twisting ’round until the reader has a full picture, but no answers to the mystery of the body, the heart, and the families that hold both.

“Ossification” will appear in Issue 18.1 in January 2016, alongside essays by Julie Marie Wade and Denise Duhamel, Jacob Appel, Katherine Standefer, and others.

Spring 2015 

Issue 17.1 of Fourth Genre features the winning essay from the 2014 contest by David Zoby, along with essays by Beth Richards, Dawn S. Davies, Patrick Madden, Robin Silbergleid, and many more. Individual copies were available at AWP 2015 in Minneapolis. Information on subscribing to Fourth Genre can be found here. You may read this issue via Project Muse (if you have access), purchase individual essays here, or buy an individual print-on-demand copy here.

Fourth Genre Pushcart Nominees 2015

We are excited to announce our nominations for Pushcart 2015:

Patrick Madden, “Spit”
Liz Falvey, “Ultimate Gifts”
Gary Garvin, “Above the Rooftops of Paris, a Non-memoir”
Stephen D. Gutierrez, “Hopper at the Train Yard”
Brandel France de Bravo, “Transutopia”
Dawn S. Davies, “Pie”