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November 11, 2008 9:19am
Normally at this time of year, we're publishing essay topics for our annual contest
. However, we'd like to see the content and form of the contest change. For this reason, we're taking a cue from the 44th President of the U.S., pausing, and seriously considering our next move
Reading submitted essays has been fascinating, and always encouraging. The number of people doing serious thinking on topics relevant to Lantern's publishing agenda is pleasing. The number of those people who expound well on those thoughts is also a joy to see.
But we'd like to see the essay contest bringing new book
authors into the Lantern fold. And for that reason, we think we need to change up the contest.
We'll miss reading your essays this year, but hope the contest comes back in a bigger and better format. See you next year?
In the meantime, enjoy past essays
April 3, 2008 10:28am
As always, reading essays submitted to our contest
has been enlightening and enjoyable. Participation in the 2007 contest came from around the world: India, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Canada, with finalists and winners from Pakistan
and the UK
. Participants were youths and elderly and everything in between.
In order to keep judging unbiased, personal information is stripped, and judges receive anonymous, numbered entries. With different essay topics and judges each year, winners in two out of three years have been women writing about history and chickens. (See Kao Kalia Yang's To the Men in My Family Who Love Chickens
from 2005, and Emily Pepe's Butch O'Hare and the Nameless Chicken
from 2007). Indeed, chickens seem to be a favorite essay topic among many participants, and this year's winner has indicated that she's donating some of her prize to help chickens at the Eastern Shore Sanctuary
. Norm Phelps
, one of the 2007 judges
, chose United Poultry Concerns
as the recipient of a donation for his efforts.
Thank you to our enthusiastic judges and to all contest contributors. And thanks to the chickens as well.
April 2, 2008 10:29am
Areas of the brain affected by Alzheimer's Disease
Sarah Castillo came to the essay contest
from Manvel, TX. Glad to have you with us, Sarah.
My Father’s Last Lessons
by Sarah Castillo
Last summer, as I was passing the kitchen counter a purple package caught my eye. It was a kind of medication of the sample variety, the sort that doctors hand out like candy, hoping for a kick back when you go back to buy the prescription. I picked it up, and glanced over the packaging. It said “Aricept (donzepil HCl) A once-a-day treatment”. Looking back, I understand that it wasn’t an accident. This is how my parents chose to tell me what was at the time unspeakable; that my father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
April 2, 2008 6:08am
This finalist in our essay contest
comes to us from Kristinehamn, Sweden.
A Letter to my Grandson, Jude
by Robin Bell
Congratulations on your birth and welcome to this wonderful, strange and often confusing world! In my lifetime I have seen so much change but I can’t help but wonder what even more incredible volatility you will see during your lifetime—and what challenges you will face.
You have come into a world which is in crisis. It is my sincere hope that you and your generation have the courage and tenacity to face up to the terrible problems that previous generations, including mine, have forced upon you through our selfishness and thoughtlessness.
April 1, 2008 12:38pm
Here is a small introduction to Samia Asif, who took third place in our 2007 contest
with the essay The Darkest Nights Make the Brightest Stars
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m 18 and a science student of A-levels, hoping to pursue a career in medicine. I live in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, my culturally rich, ideologically diverse and perhaps internationally misunderstood, country. Like any other person of my age, I love music, food and hanging around with friends. Writing is my absolute passion. Undoubtedly influenced by the events we have quite recently witnessed here in Islamabad, I hope life provides me an opportunity to work for social and religious harmony, building cultural bridges, and perhaps be able to play a small role in making the world a better place for everybody! Big words for an 18-year old? I sincerely hope not!
March 29, 2008 7:49pm
The western U.S.—well, California, Oregon, and Washington— are well represented in our top 2007 essays
! This writer comes to us from Seattle.
Learning To Hum
by Patti Dean
At the age of almost 50 years old and almost two years sober I decided to no longer give my energy to men in hopes that they would fulfill the dream. You know the dream—even Hillary Clinton lived it for a while: that a man and his protection or even the illusion of his protection is enough.
March 27, 2008 10:18am
Jerry Davis in the mountains of Idaho
Meet Jerry Davis, second place winner in the 2007 Lantern Books Essay Contest
, and read his essay, Food for Vultures
Jerry Davis was born in northern Wyoming near the base of the Big Horn Mountains. He spent his childhood roaming the foothills and deserts trying to absorb the vastness of Wyoming's wide-open spaces. Jerry graduated from Dickinson State University with a B.S. degree in Biology. For the last twenty years he has worked as an Environmental Health Specialist in Boise, Idaho. Throughout the year, Jerry hikes and backpacks the mountains of Idaho trying to learn all he can from the natural world.
March 26, 2008 9:43am
Another fabulous runner up essay from our 2007 Essay Contest
. This contributor hails from Oakland, California.
by Casey Reed Miner
Because there is not another way, I'm considering locking myself in a bathroom for twenty-four hours to find out what it's like to be imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay.
I have a specific bathroom in mind. It's tucked into the back of my favorite breakfast spot in New Haven, Connecticut, a place where I go on my own, sit at the counter, drink endlessly refillable coffee, and talk jazz and bluegrass music with the owner. The women's bathroom is a small, yellowish room with no windows and bare walls, a low electrical buzz around the light. Its cold sharply contrasts the warmth on the other side of the door—friendly people, jazz, a spinach and feta cheese omelet. But if not there, any bathroom will do, as long as it is merely functional. A gas station bathroom, for example. No stalls, just a lock.
March 25, 2008 3:31pm
Meet Emily Pepe, the first place winner of our 2007 Lantern Books Essay Contest
. (You can also read her essay, Butch O'Hare and the Nameless Chicken
Tell us a little about yourself.
My husband and I live in Portland, Oregon, where I serve on the board of Northwest VEG. Please check us out on May 10th, when Lantern blogger Mia MacDonald will speak at our annual vegetarian festival.
When I'm not volunteering with Northwest VEG, you can find me leafleting for Vegan Outreach, watching Lost, and reading books in just about every imaginable genre. For the past six years, I've read roughly three books a month.
How did you find out about the contest? And did you discover anything surprising in the process of writing your essay?
After seeing the contest announcement on the Lantern website, I resolved to set aside one full day to write without interruption. Once I got started, there were no surprises, as I had already spent over a year contemplating the deeper metaphors that came into play. The only hard part was keeping the story under 1,500 words. Due to space limitations, I had to leave out all the jaw-dropping synchronicities that reinforced my decision to stay vegan after I got the idea to become vegan while at the airport. Some of these recurring synchronicities involved the familiar themes of air travel, World War II, and the city of Chicago, but others had to do with mermaids and the cat goddesses of ancient Egypt (don't ask, or you'll get another 1,500 words).
Suffice it to say that I'm never going back to an omnivore diet. When the universe hands you an epiphany, you'd be a fool not to pay attention.
March 24, 2008 10:23am
Cindy Lou Dale
Congratulations to essay contest
runner-up Cindy Lou Dale, from Kent, UK!
by Cindy Lou Dale
On a bustling shopping street in Brussels, the heart of Europe, Christmas shoppers crowd the sidewalks. The fashion district is particularly busy this time of year with hordes of gift-buyers setting out to bag this year's must-haves and wish-list favourites. The coffee shops are enlivened with shouted orders and the constant vocal hum of patrons getting their caffeine kicks and warming themselves up before braving the cold outside. At 9am it's still only around ten degrees and everyone is warmly wrapped up against the seasonal chill. Among the jewel-coloured scarf's, chunky knit hats and standard-issue designer coats that seem to be popular with Brussels' bright young things this year, I spot a few fake fur coats and trims, and I wonder if their owners are 100 percent sure that they're not unwittingly wearing the most shocking accessory of all—pet fur from cats and dogs.
March 23, 2008 9:29am
Now that you've read the top 3 essays in our 2007 contest
, I'm posting (for your reading pleasure) a handful of the finalists. Here's the first runner up, hailing from Brentwood, California.
Shangri-La Starts Here
by Mei-Ling McNamara
I am standing on a bridge overlooking the Bagmati River in Kathmandu, considered to be a holy river by the millions of Hindus and Buddhists who live in Nepal. The source of the Bagmati originates in the northern hills of the Kathmandu Valley, where it flows through gorges and past sacred shrines, to finally rest in the southern region of the Terai. At the Hindu temple of Pashupatinath in Kathmandu, bodies are brought daily to its banks for cremation, and last rites performed amidst a backdrop of mourners and pilgrims. The dead, as well as the living, are bathed and blessed by it, and the ashes of the deceased swept from the pyre into the waters below. The Bagmati River is to the Hindus of Nepal what the Ganges River is to the Hindus of India—a religious symbol that serves to purify spiritually and physically.
It is the most polluted river I have ever seen in my life.
March 21, 2008 11:35am
The third place winner in our essay contest
, and recipient of a $250 prize is Samia Asif
, of Islamabad, Pakistan. Congratulations, Samia!
The Darkest Nights Make the Brightest Stars
by Samia Asif
Few people understand how it feels to live next door to a belligerent neighbour armed with nuclear weapons in an air of reciprocal mistrust and a history of three gory wars. I do not wish to undermine the national integrity of our honourable neighbours, India, because much that patriotism might discourage me, India is indeed one of the truest democracies of the 21st century. All I wish to do, however, is to explain and justify an average Pakistani's first reaction to perhaps the most painful tragedy we have witnessed so far as a nation.
March 19, 2008 4:15pm
Jerry Davis, 2nd place winner
Congratulations to our second place winner in the Lantern's 2007 Essay contest
, and recipient of a $500 prize.
Food For Vultures
by Jerry W. Davis
It is the nature of Man to embrace technology and information to the point where we are easily ensnared by our own inability to exist apart from what we consider the essentials of life. However when life is stripped down to the bare essentials, we find that modern civilization has separated us from the natural world and our planet is in peril as a result. It is time for Man to step backwards and look to nature for the answers of true peace and contentment.
March 18, 2008 2:58pm
Emily Pepe, winner of Lantern's 2007 Essay Contest
We have a winner! Congratulations to Emily Pepe
, writer of our #1 2007 essay, and recipient of the $1000 prize.
Butch O'Hare and the Nameless Chicken
by Emily Pepe
One of the Internet's quirkiest cultural phenomena is a website where travelers swap war stories about the best and worst places to sleep at airports worldwide. Some of the site's contributors are bargain hunters who save money on hotel accommodations by squatting at airport terminals, while others are cynical airline passengers in search of quiet places to nap during long layovers. In both camps, there are people who are so determined to avoid the waking boredom of the airport that they routinely stuff their carry-on bags with blankets, sleeping pills, and noise-reduction headphones.
March 18, 2008 2:38pm
We received upwards of eighty essays for our 2007 contest
, giving us a lot of great reading in past months. There were three topics to choose from:
- How far does personal responsibility extend when it comes to the environment or other issues affecting the planet?
- Where do you find peace, and how can that space be extended?
- What "bad" experience has turned out to be "good" for you?
Our panel of judges consisted of Latham Thomas, Norm Phelps, and Tina Volpe. They were "paid" for their efforts through donations to organizations of their choice: the CarDanz Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to single mothers and their children, United Poultry Concerns, a sanctuary and educational resource for chickens, turkeys, and ducks, and the Catskill Animal Sanctuary, a place where abused and abandoned farm animals can live their lives in peace.
We'll be posting the winning essays (and a bunch of runner-up essays) over the next several days. A big THANK YOU goes out to our judges and our contest participants. Enjoy!