Celebrating Christy Shick, Our 2022 Dogwood Winner in Creative Nonfiction!

The editors are pleased to announce that judge Joanna Eleftheriou chose Christy Shick’s essay “Meeting Lori” as the winner of this year’s Dogwood Literary Award in Nonfiction. Ms. Shick will receive $1,000 and her story will be published in the Dogwood 2022 edition. The other finalist was Sarah Dunphy-Lelii whose work will also appear in Dogwood 2022, due out late May.

Of Shick’s essay, Eleftheriou writes:

“All the finalists wrote important, powerful essays. I was especially pleased with the breadth of submissions, which attest to the health of literary nonfiction as a vibrant and expansive genre. The clear winner, in my estimation, is Christy Shick’s ‘Meeting Lori,’ a profound and moving work of creative nonfiction. Engaging powerfully with themes of family, love, independence, and mental health, ‘Meeting Lori’ takes us along on the author’s journey in search of family and herself. What she finds are the hard truths about an unjust world, truths which all of us need to face and are grateful for writing that helps us do that. The author makes excellent decisions regarding what to disclose, paying out the line of revelation with a deft touch. Our investment in the complexity of the situation is piqued even as we grow ever more trustful of this author’s skilled hand.

But what is truly stunning about this short memoir is the courage and compassion with which Shick paints a portrait of her sister, the titular Lori whom the author hasn’t met until this visit, deep into both the sisters’ adult lives. Lori’s suffering is depicted unflinchingly yet respectfully, and as the narrative progresses, the author becomes ever more painfully aware of her own privilege, her own luck, her own near-misses with fate. What strikes the reader above all else is this author’s exquisite humility, a virtue without which those who try to write about the suffering of others inevitably fail. How to write about the devastation of another’s life, and about our own privilege as people who suffer less—so much less that we have a voice and a means to publication—this is one of the great difficulties of memoir writing, and this is the triumph of ‘Meeting Lori.’ It is a worthy and beautiful work of literary art.”

Christy Shick teaches at San Francisco State University, with an MFA in Creative Writing from City College of New York. Her essays and stories have appeared in several publications, most recently The Write Launch, The Real Story, and Barely South Review. In 2017, she received the Norton Girault Literary Prize for Creative Nonfiction and was a finalist in the Barry Lopez Creative Nonfiction Contest in 2021. Please see www.christyshick.com to learn more about her work.

Joanna Eleftheriou, author of This Way Back, is an assistant professor of English at Christopher Newport University, a contributing editor of Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies and a faculty member at the Writing Workshops in Greece. Her essays, short stories, poems, and translations appear regularly in journals including Bellingham Review, CutBank, Arts and Letters, and The Common. She currently serves as Book Review editor for The Journal of Modern Greek Studies, and chair of the Membership Committee at the Modern Greek Studies Association.

The editors would like to thank the hundreds of writers who entered the contest. This year we awarded $1,000 prizes in three genres; we are grateful to our many contest entrants, who by entering the competition make this rich compilation possible. We also thank our judges, Charles Rafferty (Fiction), Joanna Eleftheriou (Nonfiction), and Frederick-Douglass Knowles (Poetry) for their hard work in choosing the winners of this year’s Dogwood Literary Awards. The portal for the 2023 awards will open July 1st, and we encourage all interested writers to consider entering. Familiarize yourself with a back issue of the magazine or subscribe by clicking on the “buy” tab in the menu above.

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