2016 BLR Prize Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Bellevue Literary Review Prizes!

Goldenberg Prize for Fiction, selected by Paul Harding
Winner: “The Foreign Cinema” by Lauren Alwan
Honorable Mention: “Are You Having Suicidal Thoughts?” by John Noonan
Honorable Mention: “First Child, Second Place” by Marylin Warner

Felice Buckvar Prize for Nonfiction, selected by Mark Vonnegut
Winner: “Askew” by Esther K. Willison
Honorable Mention: “A Member of the Family” by Morgan Smith

Marica and Jan Vilcek Prize for Poetry, selected by Ada Limón
Winner: “The Problem with Anatomical Thinking” by Meridian Johnson
Honorable Mention: “The Interview” by Kathryn Starbuck

Daniel Liebowitz Prize for Student Writing
Winner: "The Lump" by Susanna Nguy

Read interviews with the prizewinners.

These selections appear in the Spring 2016 issue of the Bellevue Literary Review. The annual BLR Prizes award outstanding writing related to themes of health, healing, illness, the mind, and the body. The next contest will open on March 1, 2016.

Goldenberg Prize for Fiction

Lauren Alwan

Winner: Lauren Alwan for “The Foreign Cinema”

Lauren Alwan lives in Northern California and holds degrees from the San Francisco Art Institute and the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. Her fiction and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in StoryQuarterly, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Sycamore Review, the Rumpus, The Millions, Northwest Review of Books, and Zyzzyva. She a staff contributor at LitStack, a literary news and reviews site, and a prose editor at the museum of americana, an online literary review. She is a graduate of the Warren Wilson Program for Writers.


John Noonan


Honorable Mention: John Noonan for “Are You Having Suicidal Thoughts?”

John Noonan is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire M.F.A. program. “Are You Having Suicidal Thoughts?” is his first published story. John lives in Connecticut with his wife, daughter, and their cats, and works as a grant writer in support of a nonprofit arts organization.



Marylin Waner


Honorable Mention: Marylin Warner for “First Child, Second Place”

Marylin Warner is a freelance writer from Colorado. She was a high school teacher for 30 years, teaching English, writing, speech and debate. Since retiring from the school system, she has taught adult writing classes, workshops and editing groups. Much of her blog at http://warnerwriting.wordpress.com is about growing up in the part of Kansas, where the story “First Child, Second Place” is set.

Felice Buckvar Prize for Nonfiction

Esther Willison


Winner: Esther K. Willison for “Askew”

Esther K. Willison was one of the founders, and teachers, of an alternative ungraded public school in Schenectady, New York. Recently, she was the assistant director of a teen theater bringing AIDS education into the public schools in the tri-city area. Her work has appeared in The Stories We Hold Secret, published by The Greenfield Review Press, “Common Lives, Lesbian Lives, No. 52,” in a collection of essays, Small Town Gay, 13th Moon, The Litchfield Review, Peeks and Valleys, White Pelican Review, and other journals. In 2010, she received second place, for Memoir, in the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association Annual Literary Contest. Currently she is on the staff of The Open Door Bookstore in Schenectady, New York.


Morgan Smith

Honorable Mention: Morgan Smith for “A Member of the Family”

Morgan Smith is a former member of the Colorado House of Representatives and Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture who now lives in New Mexico and works as a free-lance writer and photographer. The bulk of his work has to do with issues on the US-Mexico border with a particular focus on the many individuals there who run humanitarian programs like orphanages, food banks, rehab centers or, in the case of this essay, a mental asylum. He writes about their work for various newspapers in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas in the hope of presenting another side of border issues—a humanitarian one rather than just one of violence and drugs. He has been doing this for the last six years and makes at least one trip a month from his home in Santa Fe.

Marica and Jan Vilcek Prize for Poetry

Meridian Johnson


Winner: Meridian Johnson for "The Problem With Anatomical Thinking"

Meridian Johnson, formerly Stephanie N. Johnson, is the author of Kinesthesia, a full-length poetry collection published in 2010 by New Rivers Press. Her work appears in AGNI, Borderlands, BPJ, Gettysburg Review, Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota, and a BA in English from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. She lives in northern New Mexico with her two daughters. Her website is www.meridianjohnson.com



Kathryn Starbuck


Honorable Mention: Kathryn Starbuck for "The Interview"

Kathryn Starbuck’s books of poems are Sex Perhaps, considered for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize and Griefmania, 2006, both Sheep Meadow Press. Her poems appear in Poetry, Southwest Review, The New Yorker, AGNI, Harvard Review, JAMA, Ploughshares, The New Republic, The Iowa Review, The Sewanee Review, and elsewhere. They have been anthologized in The Best American Poetry, in textbooks, on-line and re-printed widely here, in Canada and Europe. She edited two books of poems by her late husband George Starbuck.

Daniel Liebowitz Prize for Student Writing

Winner: Susanna Nguy for "The Lump"

Susanna Nguy is from Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from the City College of New York in 2013 where she developed a passion for oncology research. She is completing her medical degree and will be doing her residency in Radiation Oncology at NYU. “The Lump” is her first published story. In her spare time, Susanna enjoys playing guitar, ice-skating, reading, and spending time with her family.