Prairie Schooner, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s premiere literary journal, announced recently that the essay “Nowhere Place” by Heather Johnson won the 2017 Summer Nonfiction Contest.
Johnson’s essay will appear in the Spring 2018 edition of Prairie Schooner and she will receive a $250 prize.
Johnson is a Diné woman from the Navajo Nation and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she is enrolled in the University of New Mexico’s Creative Writing Program. She is working on a novel while also writing poetry and personal essays. Her work has appeared in Sigma Tau Delta’s “Rectangle,” “Anti-Heroin Chic,” and she was a blog contributor to “Blue Mesa Review.” She most often writes about surviving personal and historical traumas, marginalized identities, reverence for the body and natural world, and the landscape as sacred.
The contest was judged by Esmé Weijun Wang, a novelist and essayist. Her debut novel, “The Border of Paradise,” was named a Best Book of 2016 by NPR and one of the 25 Best Novels of 2016 by “Electric Literature.”
“ ‘Nowhere Place’ is a searing essay that connects individual mental health with intergenerational trauma,” Wang said of the winning essay. “The turns of phrase are often elegant and surprising, and never overdone. I commend the writer’s use of Native history in bringing light to current circumstances; their experience draws ever-widening circles of clarity and complexity.”
Melissa Faliveno’s essay “Finger of God,” was selected as the runner-up.
Founded in 1926, Prairie Schooner is a national literary quarterly published with the support of the English Department at Nebraska. It publishes fiction, poetry, essays and reviews by beginning, mid-career and established writers.