2015 Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Contest winner: “Ossification,” by Kaitlyn Teer
We’re very happy to announce that 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.
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 2014
We are excited to announce our nominations for Pushcart 2014:
“Locate Mercy” by Leonora Smith
“How to Run a Supermarket” by Patricia Park
“My Brother and What Comes From Wreckage” by Molly Caro May
“When This Is All Over” by Adriana Páramo
“These Vanishing Hills” by Steven Faulkner
“Lingua Familia” by Judith Adkins
“Third Ear” by David Naimon was also nominated by a Pushcart contributing editor