MFA News, Continued
Glamour magazine's 'real-life-story' contest winner
Lauren Johnson is the winner of Glamour magazine nonfiction essay contest for writing about her service in the military and Afghanistan. As the winner of Glamour’s “Real-Life story” contest, Lauren received $5000, publication in the November 2013 issue of Glamour, and a meeting with a literary agent in New York. Pulitzer-prize winning novelist Jane Smiley was a judge.
Lauren came to the Emerson College MFA program to write about her experience in the military and hopefully serve as a voice for women veterans, which she sees as an “underrepresented population.” She is writing a memoir for her MFA thesis and will finish her degree in spring 2014.
Lauren was seven when her mother deployed to Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm, after which Lauren swore she would never enlist, though she changed her mind after September 11, 2001, joining ROTC at eighteen. Her mother, then a Lieutenant Colonel, led her in the commissioning oath. In Afghanistan Lauren served on a provincial reconstruction team as a public affairs officer winning hearts and minds, and though not directly involved in combat she was never far from it either. Lauren was awarded a Bronze Star and left the Air Force at the rank of Captain. The difficulty she had returning to civilian life led her to seek counseling, which is the subject of her winning essay and a theme of her memoir. While in the Emerson MFA program, Lauren is serving as editor-in-chief of the literary magazine Redivider, was coordinator for the Graduate Reading Series, and the recipient of a work-study scholarship at Bread Loaf Writers Conference, where she consulted with Cheryl Strayed. She has given readings and served on several panels of military veteran writers, including Wordfest and the Boston Book Festival.
Mako Yoshikawa’s essay, “My Father’s Women,” originally published in The Missouri Review as a finalist for their Editors’ Prize, appears in the 2013 collection, edited by Cheryl Strayed. The essay is drawn from a memoir Professor Yoshikawa is writing about her father, who was a physicist and world leader in fusion energy research at Princeton University. She teaches fiction writing and novel workshops in the Emerson MFA program.
Among the list of Notable Essays selected by series editor Robert Atwan, is Jerald Walker’s “Captain Love,” which appeared in River Teeth, about growing up with blind parents. “I led [my father] off the edge of the curb, where his feet plunged into the four inches of slush that, at the last moment, I had cleared with a single leap…. But despite the heavy price I paid, I have not forgiven myself for what I did. I never will.” Jerald Walker is an associate professor of nonfiction writing and Chair of the Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing. His essays have appeared in Best American Essays 2007, 2009, and 2011, and also twice in Best African-American Essays.
Also among the Notable Essays selections is MFA graduate Sebastian Stockman’s “The Problem With Sportswriting,” which appeared in The Millions, and is also a selection in Best American Sportswriting 2013. Sebastian Stockman (Nonfiction, 2011) is a lecturer in English at Northeastern University. Finally, among the Notable Selections, is the Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich (Nonfiction, 2009) essay, “Origins of a Murder,” from Oxford American. In the essay, Alexandria traces backwards from the day in 1992 when six-year-old Jeremy Guillory is murdered, to 1985 when unborn Jeremy’s murderer sits with a caseworker “strange and he knows it, off and he knows it, bad or sick and he knows it,” all the way to 1965 when Ricky Langley is born.