Laura Woollett Named 2015 Summer Nonfiction Contest Winner

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Laura Elizabeth Woollett

Prairie Schooner is pleased to announce that Laura Woollett is the winner of the 2015 Summer Nonfiction Contest, judged by Rigoberto González, for her essay “Working Girl.” Woollett will receive a prize of $250, and her essay will appear in the Spring 2016 edition of Prairie Schooner.

Laura Elizabeth Woollett lives in Melbourne, Australia. She is the author of a novel, The Wood of Suicides (The Permanent Press, 2014), and a short fiction collection, The Love of a Bad Man (Scribe Publications, forthcoming 2016). This year, she was a semifinalist in the 2015 Script Pipeline TV Writing Competition and was featured as one of Melbourne Writers Festival’s “30 Under 30.” She is currently at work on her second novel, Beautiful Revolutionary, about a young couple who enter the orbit of Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple in late 60’s California. Her website is

Rigoberto González, the judge of this year’s prize, is the author of four books of poetry and ten books of prose, including three books of nonfiction. He is also a recipient of Guggenheim, NEA, and USA Rolón fellowships and numerous other awards. González said of Woollet’s essay:

“This short piece compressed so much richness into the world of its adolescent narrator that it’s difficult to believe it is only a few pages in length. The irony is that one of this young narrator’s struggles is her anxiety that her world will not expand, not as a working-class girl from a broken home, and that she is doomed to the fate of the women in her factory community—unrewarding, repetitive labor. But through these women she also begins to embrace the edgy humor and language that reveals how complex women’s lives can be….This coming-of-age portrait is more than a story about teenage angst. It is about the spaces women create (and nurture) to transcend limitations and to dream beyond the present day.”

Marcos Gonsalez’s essay “Brown Atlas” is this year’s runner-up. Rigoberto González said he appreciated “the honesty of this essay, how it dared to explore the theme of shame: shame for one’s ancestry, shame for one’s sexuality, and shame for feeling ashamed.” Marcos Gonsalez’s work has appeared Duende Literary Magazine and will appear in the forthcoming Latino/a Rising: An Anthology of U.S. Latino/a Speculative Fiction. He is currently pursuing a PhD in English at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is on Twitter @MarcosSGonsalez.

Marcos Gonzales

Editor Kwame Dawes said of the contest, which enters its fifth year in 2016, "Our nonfiction prize has managed to do what we hoped it would when we started it a few years ago—to raise the profile of nonfiction in our journal and to bring much needed attention to the beautiful work done by writers of nonfiction. This year’s winner is no exception. This short, punch essay is chock-full of insights and beautifully written.”

Last year’s winner was Aurvi Sharma, whose essay “Eleven Stories of Water and Stone” appeared in the Spring 2015 edition of Prairie Schooner. The previous year’s winner, Melissa Febos’s essay “Call My Name,” was listed as a 2015 Best American Notable. To read Assistant Nonfiction Editor Sarah Fawn Montgomery’s interview with Rigoberto González, visit To learn more about Prairie Schooner, the latest issues, and how to subscribe, visit