Bellevue Literary Review’s Felice Buckvar Prize for Nonfiction!

| Exhibitions

Several years ago, I began working on an essay that would become part of my forthcoming third book of nonfiction, Exhibitions: Essays on Art & Atrocity. “Lost Vessels” was about art–specifically an exquisite exhibit I once saw at the Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C–and my cousin’s opioid addiction, which eventually killed him. The essay is about memory, about my discomfort with getting close to my cousin, and with the fact that sometimes it’s easier to love beautiful objects than it is to love people. In other words, the essay was a difficult, very sad piece of writing.

I also believed that it was one of the strongest pieces of prose I had written for Exhibitions, perhaps the best essay in the collection. But I questioned whether anyone would want to read something so bleak. And then, one day, I heard from Bellevue Literary Review that “Lost Vessels” had won their annual Felice Buckvar Prize for Nonfiction. I was stunned. Thrilled. BLR publishes some of my favorite writing about health and illness; its history is rooted in the famed Bellevue Hospital. In some ways, BLR is the very essence of medical humanities. So, the validation–both of “Lost Vessels” itself and of my identity as a multi-genre writer–was just tremendous. The news arrived at just the moment when I was wondering about the future of my writing, questioning my voice.

Sometimes the right news arrives exactly when it needs to. I’m so grateful that this has been true for me. More than once, I’ve been rescued at the exactly point when I was beginning to lose faith in my work. If you’re interested in learning more about Bellevue Literary Review, you can read about the journal here.