The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference

The reviews are in and the 2021 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference is a huge success.

On behalf of everyone involved in presenting our 2021 Mayborn Conference, “To Your Health: Healing the Nation, Healing the News, Healing Yourself,” a tremendous “Thank You” for helping us to thrive as a premier annual gathering of journalists, writers, authors and storytellers.

We delivered more than a dozen hours of rich content – panelists, moderators and keynotes who dove deeply into some of the most pressing issues of our time: the pandemic, racial justice, reporting through times of chaos and much more.

If you missed it, or want to experience it all over again, check it all out here on our YouTube channel.

Watch now!

Speakers and panelists who will inform, inspire and invigorate you.

For a behind-the-scenes look at journalism at the highest levels in Washington, check out CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett.

For a deep dive on covering the health crisis in America, check out Emmy Award-winning journalist, medical doctor and author Dr. Seema Yasmin – interviewed by anchor Kristi Nelson from KXAS/NBC 5 News.

For an up-close look at racial unrest across the country, join us for authors Curtis Bunn, Nick Charles, Michael H. Cottman, Patrice Gaines and Keith Harriston as they explore the forces that pushed an unjust system to its breaking point after the death of George Floyd.

For the inside scoop on the pressures of mental health in today’s newsrooms, visit with moderator Alana Rocha and reporters Elvia Limón, Olivia Messer and Alex Samuel from the Texas Tribune and elsewhere.

For a candid view of how Americans demonstrate “Crisis, Courage and Resilience” during the past months, hear from award-winning Washington Post journalist Eli Saslow as he discusses his new book, “Voices from the Pandemic.” He’ll be joined by Mayborn School journalists Megan Martinez, Rebecca Najera and Kate Pezzuli, whose “Corona Chronicles” captures many other stories and voices as well.

Check out all the stories from the Corona Chronicles here.

For a candid and cutting view of how storytellers can use the power of journalism to restore across-the-aisle politics to help the nation heal, check out former Senator Connie Mack, who will discuss his memoir “Citizen Mack” with Krys Boyd of KERA’s Think program.

These speakers, and many others, will guide you through the epochal events of the past year and leave you informed and inspired by the power of storytelling in a time of great challenge.

Writing Contest Winners Announced

The judges worked long and hard this year to select our writing contest winners. First-Place entries in each of our four categories – Book Manuscript, Personal Essay, Reported Narrative and Best American Newspaper Narratives – receive a $1,500 prize. The winners are:

Manuscript Contest

  • First Place: Kenneth Roemer, “Allies to Indian Country”
  • Second Place: Suzanne Robertson, “He Called Me Sister”
  • Third Place: Lynn Alsup, “Finding Home: A Tale of Adoption and Transormation”

Ten Spurs – Personal Essay

  • First Place: Fernanda Santos
  • Honorable Mention: Cindy Corpier

Ten Spurs – Reported Narrative

  • First Place: Kim Horner, “The Guardian Angel of Laughlin Drive”
  • Honorable Mention: Wheeler Sparks, “This Deep Admirable Silence”

Ten Spurs – Runners Up

  • Risa Brown, “Dream House”
  • Geoff Campbell, “Safe at Home”
  • Britney Johnson, “Graves into Gardens”

Best American Newspaper Narratives

  • First Place: Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post, “A pendemic, a motel without power and a terrifying glimpse of Orlando’s future.”
  • Second Place: Hannah Dreier of the Washington Post, “The Worst-Case Scenario”
  • Third Place: Leonora LaPeter Anton, Kavitha Surana and Kathryn Varn of the Tampa Bay Times, “Death at Freedom Square”


  • Rory Linnane of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Maricella's Last Breath”
  • Hannah Dreier of The Washington Post, “Tatiana's Luck”
  • Deborah Vankin of the Los Angeles Times, “This 81-year-old was L.A.’s most devoted museum-goer until COVID-19”

Notable Narratives:

  • Lauren Caruba of the San Antonio Espress News, “Night Shift”
  • Mark Johnson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Saving Rayna’s Brain”
  • Woodrow Cox of the Washington Post, “They Depended on Their Parents”

Mayborn Narrative Students Report on the Coronavirus in support of the Mayborn Conference

Each year, Mayborn narrative students interview leading journalists and storytellers to produce stories in support of our annual Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. This past year, they also worked to produce an insightful series of stories covering virtually all aspects of the Coronavirus.