Winners of the 2021 Terry Tempest Williams Prize

We are pleased to announce that our 2021 judge Jane Alison has selected a winner and runner-up as well as two honorable mentions from a slate of finalists and semi-finalists for North American Review's 2021 Terry Tempest Williams Prize in Creative Nonfiction. A big thank you to everyone who submitted an essay for the prize. We had 245 entries this year, and we thoroughly enjoyed reading such an abundance of excellent nonfiction. The winner and runner-up will appear in the Summer 2021 issue of the North American Review, and all entrants will receive a copy. 


Laura Haugen, “Song for the Missing”
Michael Fleming, “In America, They Cut Your Head Off”
M. Cottonwood, “Plans for Tragedies”
Shelly Cato, “The River Eats”
Carter Meland, “Thinking with Bigfoot about a Jackpine Savage”


Rachel Kesselman, “Story of a Symptom”
Hila Ratzabi, “Future Blue”
Brenda van Dyck, “Mother-Loss”
Sarah Cook, “Worry”

Honorable Mentions

Faith Shearin, “Winter”
Lena Crown, “Pomegranate Girls”


Gustav Hibbett,  “Endurance”


Kate McGunagle, “Passive Voice”

Thanks also to all the volunteers and readers who make this prize happen each year, including our managing editor, Emily Stowe; our contest coordinator, Brooke Wonders; our two graduate assistants to the coordinator, Alyssa Minch and Zach Batt; and all our student readers: Kaitlyn Askelson, Dee Bruns, Cole Carolan, Madie Hilbert, Nikayla Hoffmann, Samantha Lind, Madeline Ludwig, Lauren McGuill, Kenzi Ramer, Emma Schmidt, Taylor Snyder, and Taylor Wiley.

Jane Alison

Jane Alison was born in 1961 in Canberra, Australia, and until she was eleven grew up in the Australian and U.S. diplomatic services. She went to public schools in Washington, D.C., and studied classics at Princeton and Brown universities and creative writing at Columbia. Before writing fiction, she worked for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Washington City Paper, the Miami New Times, and Tulane University; she has also been a freelance editor and illustrator. Since 2013 she has been a professor of creative writing at the University of Virginia.

Her first novel, The Love-Artist, was published in 2001 and has been translated into seven languages. It was followed by three further novels: The Marriage of the Sea, Natives and Exotics, and a nonfiction novel, Nine Island. She has also published a memoir, The Sisters Antipodes;  translations of Ovid’s stories of sexual transformation, Change Me; and her newest book, Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative. She has collaborated with composer Thomas Sleeper on a mini-opera and a song cycle based on her books, and her short fiction and essays have appeared in the Paris Review, New York Times, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, Boston Globe, Creative Nonfiction, TriQuarterly,  Germanic Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.