Essays about America’s love/hate relationship with math, the ways in which narcissism leads to murder, and a disease whose victims are afflicted by the weather captured the top honors in the 2009 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition.
Stephanie Whetstone of Durham won first place for her entry “Mathitudes.” Final judge Eli Hastings, the author of the memoir Falling Room, said, “‘Mathitudes’ explores the divisive love for and loathing of mathematics in American culture by recounting … the author’s unlikely journey from victim of intense math anxiety to math tutor. It does so with humor, lyricism, and superb social criticism, too.”
Whetstone is a graduate of Duke University and the MFA program in creative writing at UNC-Greensboro. She served as fiction editor for the Greensboro Review and is currently a lecturer at UNC-G. Her fiction was nominated for Best New American Voices 2009, and her poetry has appeared in Bloodroot and Appalachian Heritage.
“The Culture of Narcisside” by Cynthia Lewis won second place. Hastings said Lewis’s essay “whirls the reader through an academic examination of ‘narcisside’ (spousal murder for narcissistic reasons) in American society and proceeds to reveal with robust and impenetrable reasoning that despite the media’s treatment of it, narcissism’s poison seed is neither exogenous nor unrelated to our lives or our culture—or to the … genre of memoir.”
Lewis is Charles A. Dana Professor of English at Davidson College. A Shakespearean scholar, she also teaches and writes nonfiction, mostly essays about American culture, including such topics as women bodybuilders, professional gambling in Las Vegas, and the world of debutantes. For each of the last two years, one of her essays has been cited as a “Notable Essay” by the editor of The Best American Essays.
“Mother Nature’s Calling” by Sheilah Zimpel of Denver won third place, with Hastings noting that it presents “a portrait of the compelling yet disturbing disease afflicting the author’s mother. Burdened by an acute and unrelenting sensitivity to meteorology that medical science is at a loss to explain, the author muses with humor but not without genuine emotion on the nature of life, death, and how just maybe the patient is tuning in to a distant frequency.”
Sponsored by the North Carolina Writers’ Network and administered by the creative writing department at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, the Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition encourages the creation of lasting nonfiction work that is outside the realm of conventional journalism. The contest is open to any legal resident of North Carolina or member of the N.C. Writers’ Network. First, second, and third place winners receive $300, $200, and $100, respectively, and the winning entry is considered for publication in the Rambler.
The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is our state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit http://www.ncwriters.org/.