by Jordan Guevara
Special Guest Judge, Jeannie Vanasco
“Hieroglyphics” held me rapt from its first sentence to its last. With astounding vulnerability and grace, the writer meditates on the intersections of language, love, and loss. That the writer directly addresses his father throughout gave the essay an intense intimacy. The self-awareness breaks through the artifice all while maintaining the essay’s artfulness. I want everyone to read this densely layered and lyrical work.
Jeannie Vanasco is the author of two memoirs, Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl and The Glass Eye. Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl—a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a Kirkus Best Book of the Year, a TIME magazine Must-Read Book of the Year, and winner of the Ohioana Book Award in nonfiction—was published by Tin House Books in 2019. The Glass Eye—an Indie Next Pick, Indies Introduce Pick, and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection—was published by Tin House Books in 2017. Her essays have appeared in The Believer, The New York Times, and elsewhere. She lives in Baltimore and teaches at Towson University.
by Anne Pinkerton
From the Special Guest Judge Jeannie Vanasco: Insightful and profoundly moving, “The Beautiful Mundane” examines how so much of our lives is not lived consciously. The writer does what exceptional writers do: makes the seemingly mundane beautiful.