letter from the editors

letter from the editors Dear Reader,    In this, our fifth year online, we examined Essay Magazine’s relationship with both print and digital media. In years past, our priority had been in print, with a smaller run on our website. However, there are a myriad of ways in which print alone cannot support the growth and …

2023 masthead

sophie ferruzza MANAGING EDITORS: julie heaney & kelsey diven JUNIOR MANAGING EDITOR: emily harris JUNIOR DESIGN EDITOR: haley dittbrenner READING BOARD HEADS: haley dittbrenner & emily harris READING BOARD: nala washington, courtney smith, christine catterall, sophie ferruzza, kaci modavis, & alexandrea ciardella COPYEDITORS: brooke mitchell, hannah mackey, julie heaney, kelsey diven, haley dittbrenner, & emily …

sunset limb

caitlin johannes “What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” -Aristotle Sunlight. Chlorine. Coarse bark. Popping fuchsia blossoms. Climbing to the reaches of the sky. Touching the atmosphere and wishing your feet would stop kissing the earth, so grounded. You jump. You fall. The moment drifts away like childhood memories, lost in …

childless god

☆ erik kirkland memorial prize finalist ☆ caitlin johannes Our townhouse in Maryland in 2012 was a pastel blue in a fairytale-like neighborhood. Pillar Lane, our street was called, and though the sweet lick of spring brought the croon of cicadas and the gentle rustling wind, I was livid. I half-heartedly thrusted the remote at …

funeral in july

caitlin johannes At ten years old, I had never seen a dead body. My childhood hadn’t been tarnished nor brushed by death’s slicing blade, only the brief mention of my grandparents’ long-lost friends entering eternal peace in their beds or in a hospital all alone – friends that they hadn’t seen since high school. But …

2023 Kirkland Prize Winner

caitlin johannes The Erik Kirkland Memorial Prize originates from tragedy—the death of a promising young man in a military accident. If anything positive can come from such misfortune, this award, in some small way, accomplishes this. The Writers Institute wishes to thank John and Sara Kirkland for giving their blessing to the creation of this …

cherry red

caitlin johannes CW: mentions of sexual assault and rape, explicit sexual content, brief mentions of depression/suicide and eating disorders as symptoms of PTSD Maybe I felt betrayed by my own body. I had always loved the kissing part when it came to sex. The act of holding someone close and feeling skin touch skin in …

laws of gravity

☆ erik kirkland memorial prize ☆ sophie ferruza Dear Mother,  I understand I was too young. I know it is hard to speak about, and even harder to tell your children. I find it inexplicable, but no matter how much you polish the innocence on the smooth skin on your child, they will always be …

incredible children

caitlin johannes Introduction  The first time my brother tried to kill himself he was 6 years old.   My brother Dean is uniquely empathetic, thoughtful far beyond his age. He listens intently, stares into you with his big, brown doe eyes. He loves animals, especially foxes. He spends hours on end out in the woods behind …

thievery and other pasttimes

sophie ferruza Love it or leave it, you can’t write a story without building on what you already know. Sometimes it slips under your radar, and it isn’t until your friend gives you a weird look and says something like, “Isn’t your story about a tortured millionaire with no parents oddly similar to the stories …