We’re Celebrating by Susan Shafarzek

The 2022 Streetlight Essay/Memoir contest has concluded. I’m happy to announce our winners: Betty Wilkins, Catherine Childress and Susan Valas. All three essay impressed our judges with their strength of narrative and their ability to deal with issues that are often hard to encompass.

Betty Wilkins, our first prize winner, won honorable mention winner from Streetlight last year, with her essay “Hudy’s Secret Recipe” which appeared in the Fall 2021 quarter of Streetlight. We’re especially glad to see her work again (the contest is judged blind, of course, so imagine our pleased surprise). She’s almost local to us, hailing currently from New River Valley in Virginia. Her winning essay this year, “What Killed the Video Star,” is a wonderful personal saga twined with the ethos of an era, with particular attention to the ups and downs of media transmission. Most of us will recognize the major themes, I think. It’s a bittersweet, but often amusing, look back at its time and place.

Our second prize winner, Catherine Childress, who teaches writing at Lees-McRae College in Tennessee, takes on a theme of current significance in her essay, “Pandemic Casserole.” This is both a story about handling personal loss and a meditation of the problems of political awareness—a troubling and important subject. It’s timely and heartbreaking. The voice here is one of sureness and compassion.

Susan Valas, originally from Buffalo, N.Y., lives in Denver, Colo., where she has been attending workshops and recently won an award from the Denver Women’s Press Club. In “The Notebook,” our third prize winning entry, she tells a poignant coming of age story that looks back to the innocence of childhood but reflects, in adult awareness, a puzzle and a memory. It’s an account that deftly handles the struggle the young have accommodating to things they cannot yet understand. It’s a story of courage and mystery.

These three prize-winning essays will appear in the summer quarter of Streetlight. We hope you’ll take a look. I think you’ll find it rewarding.

Photo of fireworks
Celebration by Donna Winton. CC license.

Susan Shafarzek
Susan Shafarzek is the essay/memoir editor of Streetlight Magazine.

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