Creative Nonfiction Announces “Anger & Revenge” Contest Winners

Mardi Jo Link and Chester F. Phillips To Receive Top Prizes and Publication in CNF #43

PITTSBURGH, PA, NOVEMBER 7, 2011: A Midwestern divorcée and mother of three, Mardi Jo Link is angry–and she’s good at it:

A former crime reporter, Mardi Jo Link is the winner of Creative Nonfiction’s $1,000 Prize for Best Anger & Revenge Essay for “Rebecca vs. Mr. Wonderful,” a personal tale of divorce, motherhood and life on her small Michigan farm. Link’s narration, often comic, is delivered sarcastically, through the haze (and occasional clarity) of a mid-morning beer buzz:

It’s garbage day and my soon-to-be ex-husband is getting settled into his newly rented digs directly across the street from me by hauling the rejects of our near 20-year marriage out to the curb. In my book of holidays and special occasions, that calls for a beer.

For once, I do not have to set a good example. The boys are with their grandparents, my parents, at the Link family cottage ostensibly so their mother can “get some spring cleaning done” because it’s “spring cleaning time.” This is what their grandparents, my parents, tell my sons. They are country boys, but not dumb. They know this actually means that I need time alone to “simmer my shit down.” This is what I hear the boys say privately, amongst themselves, when they think I’m not listening.

Link consistently uses humor to deal with difficult situations and people in her life and work, she says. It has occurred to her, though, that writing about conflict allows her to get the last word in.

Now remarried, Link continues to reside on her farm in Traverse City, MI, where she is currently working on a memoir, forthcoming from Knopf. Link is the author of two true crime books and has worked as a police reporter, street tree planter, seamstress and tournament pool player.

Chester F. Phillips, a Ph.D. student at the University of Arizona, receives the $500 Runner-Up Prize for Best Anger & Revenge Essay for “Heroes and Consequences,” an exploration of his response to his teenage sister’s rape, and a commentary on the meaning of masculinity in American culture:

I remember what my best friend, Kevin Adams, said when he called our friend Gary to join us. He had tears in his eyes when I told him my sister’s story, but he tried to sound hard and brave. “Gary,” he said, “You feel like raping some boys?”

Gary did not say yes or no at the time, but he joined us at Kevin’s apartment to discuss what to do. … Kevin served us coffee. I felt glad that his girlfriend Janis wasn’t home. We needed “to keep this quiet,” I said. This was talk for men only.

I recounted the story for Gary, who shook his head and cursed as I told it. When I finished the telling, there was a brief moment of silence in the room. Gary looked at me and studied my face. Then he looked at Kevin, who nodded in assent to a question we didn’t have to ask out loud. From the Old Testament “eye for an eye” to action movies, the scripts had been written out for us to follow. We started making plans to go after Andy.

Phillips is currently working on a book, from which “Heroes and Consequences” is excerpted. This award marks his second CNF contest win, making Phillips the first writer to claim two CNF prizes. His previous essay, “Charging Lions,” won the $500 runner-up prize for an “Animals” issue released in winter 2011, and also earned him recognition as the runner-up for the 2011 PEN/Emerging Writer Award for Nonfiction.

Both winning Anger & Revenge essays were chosen by CNF editors from a competitive pool of nearly 200 contest submissions. Each essay will be published in Creative Nonfiction #43, to be released in December 2011.

The issue will also feature an Encounter with Buzz Bissinger; columns by Daniel Nester, Phillip Lopate and Ned Stuckey-French; a new Pushing the Boundaries selection; the best of cnfonline; and more.

Edited by Lee Gutkind, Creative Nonfiction has been devoted exclusively to publishing vividly written literary nonfiction since its first issue, in 1994. In March 2010, with the publication of issue #38, the journal re-launched as a quarterly magazine with an updated look, larger size, and expanded content. Known today as “the voice of the genre,” Creative Nonfiction is an essential resource for anyone with an artistic, professional or critical stake in the genre–or for anyone who simply enjoys true stories, well told.

About the Creative Nonfiction Foundation:

The Creative Nonfiction Foundation pursues educational and publishing initiatives in the genre of literary nonfiction. Its objectives are to provide a venue, the magazine Creative Nonfiction, for high quality nonfiction prose (memoir, literary journalism, personal essay); to serve as the singular strongest voice of the genre, defining the ethics and parameters of the field; and to broaden the genre’s impact in the literary arena by providing an array of educational services and publishing activities.


Contact: Hattie Fletcher / 412-688-0304 /

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