We Celebrate Our Winners by Susan Shafarzek

It’s a pleasure—and also a great privilege—to announce the winners of this year’s Streetlight Essay/Memoir Contest. This year’s submissions made an admirable crowd; it wasn’t easy to pick only three winners. We’ll be posting some honorable mentions too, but more about that later. Now is the time to consider the winners.

First prize goes to Rigel Oliveri for her essay, “Find the Difference,” a brief, but harrowing and touching, account of one day in the life of a single, widowed mother facing a medical emergency. It’s a story that throws a light onto the perils and difficulties of approaching the medical system in this country (or maybe any), written with insight, understanding and a great deal of understated wit.

Second prize goes to Linda Berkery for “Love in Life’s Tunnels,” a wonderful and tender account of how long-term love survives, and nourishes those who keep it, in times of great stress. This is a story of heartbreak, fear, and the great strength that comes from taking an attitude of perseverance. The tone is realistic and aware. It’s about enduring the kind of crisis we all fear.

Third prize goes to Wendy Fontaine for “Dream House,” a wry and heartwarming account of how one family kept its hopes live in the face of great odds (those odds being the chances of winning the lottery). It’s a story about how relationships are built out of more than everyday passive acceptance and less than material possessions. But who hasn’t wanted to win a lottery, whether they bought tickets or not?

These three winning essays have one thing in common. Their writers have packed into short space accounts of what it is to be human in varying times of difficulty. Without any smarmy platitudes, they show how possible it is to keep hope going in the face of nearly anything. I recommend them all—and not just because I was able to have a hand in picking them out. This is exciting work.

Stay tuned, please, for our honorable mentions.

Photo of fireworks
Celebration by Donna Winton. CC license.

Susan Shafarzek
Susan Shafarzek is Streetlight‘s essay/memoir editor.

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