2007 Penelope Niven Creative Nonfiction Award

Isms

Author:  M. B. McLatchey
“Isms” is the work of an original, smart, and talented writer. She has a great storehouse of knowledge
and a penetrating understanding of many subjects, including human beings. It is wonderful to read
someone who knows a capella, Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei, as well as Carol Channing and Hepburn
(and knows the difference).  When has a school room been given such vivid enunciation -- the
dioramas, shoe boxes, sticker-stars, and clay figures, the comfort of “half-truths” for other children, but
not for Miss D’s. With a  “sideways glance,” they took it all in, and were forgiving, like Miss D (whose
door says welcome, an endless acquittal). It is difficult to see any of us “condemned,” and yet, there are
standards. Standards! I can’t go on admiring line after line, when I am only on the first two pages in my
commentary (and my language is so stupid and pale in comparison), but that’s what this essay does
to me; it says look, see, remember. Word for word, sentence by sentence, I am enthralled. Thank God
for Miss D, and for being reminded that at least one or two of my own teachers were, if not her equals,
close sisters. While the writer appears like a new comet on my horizon, I am wild to know what this
writer will do next. Meanwhile, she will be “graded,” though A+ hardly describes my admiration.  

                                         -- Emily Herring Wilson, Judge                            
                                         2007 Penelope Niven Creative Nonfiction Award



Salem College Penelope Niven Creative Nonfiction Award