Penelope Niven Creative Nonfiction Award

Excerpted from the book Beginner's Mind
This 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

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

Salem College Penelope Niven Creative Nonfiction Award

Author:  M. B. McLatchey
Author's website: