by Denise Boivin
Special Guest Judge, Chris Belcher
“She Will Rise” does a wonderful job of interweaving the perspectives of both a father and mother to be, detailing the protagonist’s experiences through her own eyes as well as the viewpoint of her partner, a technique that pushes the bounds of creative nonfiction in an interesting manner. In doing so, the writer creates a situation in which the reader may, like the doctors and nurses in the story itself, make presumptions around the veracity of the pregnant woman’s claims. But the creative approach of this writing continuously places us within her body and its corporal pain and suffering, to return us to her truth, even as those around her question it.
The author builds a palpable sense of dread, foreboding that something even worse is yet to come. That the reader can feel this so clearly speaks to the author’s ability to make the mother ‘s anxiety transferable to the reader. But as she takes you to the very precipice of a grief that is not at all unexpected by the time we arrive at it, she then disrupts our sense of knowing. The crescendo of this piece again transfers emotion, as she writes catharsis on the page not just for herself, but for us, her audience.
Chris Belcher is an author, professor, authenticity consultant, and book coach. She completed a PhD in English at the University of Southern California, where she is now a jointly-appointed Assistant Professor in the Writing Program and the Department of Gender & Sexuality Studies. Under her working name, Natalie West, she edited the acclaimed anthology We Too: Essays on Sex Work and Survival. Pretty Baby (Simon & Schuster / Avid Reader Press) is her debut memoir. Born and raised in West Virginia, she now lives in Los Angeles.
by Sonya Lara