$10,000 Sustainability Essay Prize Awarded

Mary Heather Noble is the winner of the $10,000 first-place prize for Creative Nonfiction’s "The Human Face of Sustainability" essay contest, sponsored by Arizona State University’s Sustainability Solutions Festival.

Mary Heather Noble's prize-winning essay, “Acts of Courage,” uses a series of flashbacks from her youth and early scientific career to recall how cancer from contaminants intersected her life, unflinchingly using devastating statistics to show how carcinogens have so easily entered into daily life.

Noble, whose work focuses on environmental issues and the intersection of the natural world, family and place, resides in Bend, Oregon, with her husband and two daughters and serves on the Board of Directors of The Nature of Words literary organization. She is currently enrolled in the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing program at the University of Southern Maine.

Noble will be honored at the Sustainability Solutions Festival in Tempe, AZ, Feb. 17-22. The festival is a program within the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University.

“The idea of sustainability can mean many things to different people, but it is clear through Mary Heather Noble’s brilliant essay, as well as by each of our other finalists, that there is a deep, human connection to sustainability, regardless of definition,” said Patricia Reiter, director of the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives.

Seven additional finalists will each receive a $1,000 prize for their work: Mieke Eerkens, Matthew Ferrence, Sarah Gilbert, Amy Hassinger, Michelle Lanzoni, Ana Maria Spagna, and Nicole Walker. Their original works touched on various sustainability issues that span the planet, while deeply affecting individuals in specific locations and situations.

“What all of the finalists demonstrate, I think, is the importance of storytelling, and the impact writers can make by tackling significant issues through nonfiction narrative,” said Lee Gutkind, founding editor of Creative Nonfiction, Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, and a professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, both at ASU.

The Sustainability Solutions Festival and Creative Nonfiction also selected Marcy Miranda Janes to illustrate The Human Face of Sustainability issue of Creative Nonfiction. Janes’ artwork involves elaborate and intricate paper cuttings that display amazing depth and detail. Janes will receive $3,500 from the Sustainability Solutions Festival and her artwork, created specifically for this edition, will be profiled prominently for at least three months on Creative Nonfiction’s website. Janes will also be honored at the Sustainability Solutions Festival, where her art will be displayed.

The winning Human Face of Sustainability essay and artist was chosen by a committee of CNF editors and Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives staff from a competitive pool of nearly 500 contest submissions. Each of the six finalist essays, along with two other sustainability-based pieces, will be published in Creative Nonfiction No. 51, to be released in February 2014. The issue will also feature an interview with Elizabeth Kolbert (Field Notes from a Catastrophe; The Sixth Extinction), introductory essays by Gutkind and guest editor Donna Seaman, and more.

Creative Nonfiction has been devoted exclusively to publishing vividly written literary nonfiction since its first issue in 1994. The magazine has consistently featured prominent authors from the United States and around the world, and has helped launch the careers of some of the genre’s most exciting emerging writers, as well as helping establish the creative nonfiction genre as a worthy academic pursuit. Creative Nonfiction has a circulation of 7,000 and is an essential resource for anyone with an artistic, professional or critical stake in the genre – or for anyone who simply enjoys true stories, well-told.