The Norton Writer's Prize 2016 Winners

    We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2016 Norton Writer’s Prize: David Ahern of Gonzaga University, for his personal essay, “Ourselves.” The judges described the winning essay as “deeply humane … show[ing] the writer’s compassion, his willingness to learn from others, and his prescient recognition of the most devastating effects of death—the effects upon the living.” They noted that his “attention to sensory details make this essay understated yet moving.”

    This year, two runners-up stood out among the pool of impressive submissions: Isabelle Taft for her journalistic essay, “The Battle of Cedar Creek, 1 and 152,” and Sari Baum for her personal piece, “Bánat is Hungarian for Grief.”

    You can click on the titles below to read the winning essays.


    2016 Winner

    David Ahern Photo

    David Ahern
    Gonzaga University

    David Ahern is a junior at Gonzaga University, majoring in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. He hopes to work in the field of emergency medicine after graduation, with the goal of attending medical school and becoming an emergency room physician. Originally from Seattle, he was an active member of King County Explorer Search and Rescue (KCESAR) for two years before moving away to university in Spokane, WA. His essay "Ourselves" is a creative attempt to describe both a true story and one of the most profound experiences from his time volunteering in SAR. He would like to thank professor Heath Herrick for his nomination and support, professor Heather Easterling Ritchie for her constant encouragement, and Erin Anderson, Nancy Ahern, and Rowena Gates for their editorial assistance.


    2016 Runners-Up

    Sari Baum photo

    Bánat is Hungarian for Grief
    Sari Baum
    University of Evansville

    Sari Baum is a junior studying creative writing, literature, and art history at the University of Evansville. She is co-editor-in-chief of the Evansville Review and in her sophomore year placed first in The Virginia Lowell Grabill Awards for Creative Nonfiction. She loves her family and her dogs, the color gray, TV shows about aliens, Stevie Nicks, and hot chocolate with too many marshmallows. She hopes to continue her studies in graduate school. 


    Isabelle Taft photo

    The Battle of Cedar Creek, 1 and 152
    Isabelle Taft
    Yale University

    Isabelle Taft is a senior at Yale, where she studies American history and nonfiction writing. She is an editor of The New Journal, a magazine of narrative nonfiction about New Haven and Yale. She has reported for the Sacramento Bee, POLITICO,  and the Texas Tribune. She hopes to work in journalism after graduation.