MFA BLAST: Lara Lillibridge Wins The American Literary Review's Contest In Nonfiction

Wesleyan nonfiction alum, Lara Lillibridge has received recognition for her essay, "Essay Notes on Attachment Disorder", from The American Literary Review, where the essay won the ALR's contest in nonfiction, judged by Charles D'Ambrosio, author of Loitering: New and Collected Essays and recipient of a Whiting Award. The prize awards Lara with publication in The American Literary Review's Spring 2017 publication and a monetary prize as well.

See what Lara has to say about her essay's journey to publication below:

In my third semester at WVWC, I was introduced to experimental writing while working with Kim Dana Kupperman. I started writing what I called “essay notes,” which were basically list essays about relationships that I had trouble dissecting on the page. To be honest, the form felt like cheating at first—instead of suffering through page after page of traditionally formatted prose, I just put the important bits on the page and deleted all the rest. Two of these essays wound up in my thesis. One piece, "Essay Notes on Attachment Disorder", was a finalist for the DisQuiet Prize in Nonfiction, which came with a $950 scholarship to their summer program in Portugal, but not with publication, so I kept submitting it elsewhere, and it kept getting rejected.

This November, it won the The American Literary Review's Contest in Nonfiction, with publication in their Spring 2017 issue and $1,000. The second essay, "39 Lashes: Just Write Something About Your Mother", was a finalist in Black Warrior Review’s Nonfiction Contest, but again, not slated for publication. I truly believed in the piece, so every time it was rejected I just sent it to a handful of other places. It found a home (and a check for $1,000) through Slippery Elm Literary Journal’s Prose Contest and will be published in Dec. 2016. It’s interesting to me that both pieces that won were written in a very easy and natural style for me—I spent years trying to infuse my essays with poetry and struggled over lyricism, but when I just wrote in the fragmented way I thought, I had a lot more success.

Lara Lillibridge (Nonfiction ’16) is a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College’s MFA program in Creative Nonfiction. Lara Lillibridge sings off-beat and dances off-key. She writes a lot, and sometimes even likes how it turns out. In 2016, she won Slippery Elm Literary Journal’s Prose Contest and The American Literary Review's Contest in Nonfiction. She also was a finalist in both Black Warrior Review’s Nonfiction Contest and DisQuiet’s Literary Prize in Creative Nonfiction. She has had essays published in Pure Slush Vol. 11, Vandalia, and Polychrome Ink; on the web at Hippocampus, Luna Luna, Huffington Post, The Feminist Wire, Airplane Reading, Thirteen Ways to Tell a Story, Weirderary, and Brain, Child magazine's Brain, Mother blog. Lara’s memoir will debut in Fall of 2017 with SkyHorse Publishing. You can view some of her work on her website: