Mama Cocks the Shotgun: Bristol’s Finest Lyric Essays

February 17, 2011 § 4 Comments

To review: Bristol Palin is reportedly writing her memoir.

Memoirist Sue William Silverman found this idea somewhat absurd, given that Palin’s life so far has included 1) being a rather flawed spokesperson for abstinence, and 2) Dancing with the Stars. Memoirist Robin Hemley made a joke about Bristol’s possible future as a lyric essayist.  We here at Brevity, deep into our third bottle of Malbec, decided that a Bristol Palin Lyric Essay Competition was just the thing to brighten a dull February.

Yesterday we posted some of our favorite lines from the numerous, wonderful, rich-with-grizzly-bear entries.

Today, we post our winner, and two runners-up.

And then we promise never to mention Bristol Palin again.

Here goes:

THE $25 whopping American dollars WINNER:

Nine Months to Now

A Lyric Essay by Bristol ‘She-Ra’ Palin

As told to Laurie Ann Cedilnik


Mama cocks the shotgun, and we’re off. She has her target, I mine. Her words are bullets, and they fall without mercy. I am hit. Utterly without protection. His seed is a hail of bullets, and I do not duck.


Really craving pickles this month.


The Nifty Runners Up:

Aurora Borealis

A Lyric Essay by Bristol Palin

As told to John Warner

It’s lonely in Alaska. That’s why families are big, so there’s always someone else around, but your family isn’t around, and maybe that’s why you fall into the arms of the handsomest hockey player in town, let him take your clothes off, let him place his hands on your hips and look at you and bring his lips to your belly and call you beautiful, which is something you’ve been taught to value.



A Lyric Essay by Bristol Palin

As told to Amy Butcher

Call me Ursidae. Call me whole.

As a child, I sifted river rock from the sandy collarbone of Wasilla Lake, stood ankle-deep in the cool, crisp water.  We were twinned then, the water and I both: each of us free, each of us moving at an inexhaustible speed.  The current carried the weight of the world: dandelion seed and pollen.

It was in an inlet in October that I saw him: the bear, that hulking bulge of brown.  He stood by the water and then was in it, found a fish and took it whole.  He swallowed its flailing, flippy body down.


Thanks to all of our awesome entrants, and congratulations to our winners, and Bristol.

I Am Bristol, I Contain Multitudes

February 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

BREAKING NEWS: We are still accepting entries for the Bristol Stomp Lyric Essay Competition!

And yes, an astonishing twenty-five dollars in cash goes to the winner!!

Here is some help for those of you who have yet to spill the lyrical ink:

One of the distinguishing characteristics of a lyric essay is its focus on images over narrative, on emotionality over clear, deliberate storytelling. Often a lyric essay will move between related narrative threads rather quickly, using them to create an emotional tone rather than a cohesive narrative.  Plus, a lyric essay should mention Wasilla.  Or maybe Dancing with the Stars.  Perhaps Levi.  The lyric essay’s ability to move between images and scenes freely gives the form a cinematic quality, in that the prose becomes a screen upon which imagistic pieces are projected and woven together with little concern for smooth transitions.  Often, you can see Russia from the porch of a lyric essay.  Polar bears often write them.  It has long been rumored that polar bears edit The Seneca Review.  I am the Walrus. Goo goo g’joob.


The Bristol Stomp: A Lyric Essay Competition

February 9, 2011 § 5 Comments

Yes, our favorite Dancing with the Stars contestant is writing her memoir, and yes, there are far too many awful  jokes made possible by yesterday’s announcement.  But we won’t make those jokes.  Instead, we quote an exchange found on Facebook today between the master memoirists Sue William Silverman and Robin Hemley (and read even further down for your chance to win big bucks).

SUE :  Bristol Palin is “writing” a memoir! Really? Can’t we find another term, other than “memoir,” to describe what it is nonwriters write when they produce “something” that more or less resembles a book from the outside?  Here is a description of her nonbook: “Twenty-year-old Bristol Palin has wisdom she wants to share with us all, and she…’ll do it in book form.” Am anxiously awaiting “wisdom.”

ROBIN: I’m thinking of getting her as the keynote speaker at the next NonfictioNow Conference. I loved her series of lyric essays in Seneca Review, didn’t you, Sue?

Robin is kidding, of course.  Bristol’s lyric essays were rejected by the Seneca Review, poor kid.

So, does anyone want to enter our NIFTY BRISTOL STOMP CONTEST?

Here are the Rules:

— In 250 words or less, write a lyric essay that might’ve come from the pen of Bristol Palin.

— send it to, DEADLINE Monday, Feb. 14th, 4 pm EST.

— the best ones will be reprinted here.

— Winner gets $25!!!


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