Winners of the Medium Writers Challenge

Congratulations to all the winners, and thank you to everyone who submitted!

Medium Staff
The Medium Blog
Published in
5 min readOct 15, 2021


Medium’s curators, staff, and a host of guest judges have spent hours and hours reading the nearly 10,000 entries in our first-ever Medium Writers Challenge. We challenged creators, new and experienced, to write original essays on four topics: death, reentry, space, and work. The pieces were judged based on creativity, originality, and writing quality.

Congratulations to all the winners, and thank you to everyone who entered!

All the winners are listed below. Asterisks indicate the Semi-Finalists for each category.

Grand Prize Winner:

Keeper of the Place,” by Randi Ragan


Guest Judges: Imani Perry, Julio Vincent Gambuto, Saeed Jones, Jude Ellison S. Doyle


The Hope That Holds You Back,” by Sarah Hawthorne

Honorable Mentions

Leaving Neonatal: A New Birth,” by Jonathan Bright*
Like Icarus,” by Anna Pulley*
How to Make the Turn,” by Rebecca Moore*
Going Back was the Beginning,” by Victoria Meléndez*
Echoes of Love,” by Erin Benson*
Behind Every Lining Is a Silver Cloud,” by Susan M. Brackney*
What Do You See When You Close Your Eyes?” by Elizabeth Dawber*
How The Midnight Express Came To Our Rescue During Our Family Reunion,” by Atash Yaghmaian*
The Bruises on My Arms,” by Stark Raving*
Birds Still Sing When It Rains,” by Jacqueline Dooley
On Sunlight and Old School Horses: Return to Los Angeles,” by Adeline Dimond
At 40, I Was Scared to Enter the Dating Pool Again,” by Kelly Eden
Hyphenated,” by Juhee Lee
Shame Isn’t an Incentive Program,” by Ginger Ayla
In Case of Emergency,” by Cecily Knobler
Numbers Are People Too,” by JoLynne Martinez
Back in the Saddle: Learning to Love My Dad, Myself, and the Bicycle Again,” by Kasai Richardson
It’s a Hard Thing, Getting Back to the Life You Never Really Had,” by Niels Sorrells
The Reality of Reentry,” by Chandra Thomas Whitfield
A Reflection on the Cosmic Power of My Own Two Hands,” by Shannon Calloway
In Sickness and in Health,” by Jenny S
Regeneration,” by Jennifer Irani
The World Is Not Waiting Where You Left It,” by Corey Baughman
How I Grew Up Alien,” by
Riding My First Loop Roller Coaster as an Adult,” by Alison Schaffir


Guest Judges: Roxane Gay, Kurt Andersen, David Dennis, Jr.


Black Personhood Does Not Have Equitable Access to the Work of Homeownership,” by Hal H. Harris

Honorable Mentions

We Need More Stories Where Nothing Works Out, and Here’s Why,” by A. K. Fisher*
A Mother’s Work is Everything,” by Nicci Kadilak*
How Sex Work Saved Me From Academia,” by Ellis Brooks*
Honest Work,” by Rolli*
Who Are You Calling Lazy?” by Tim Wise*
Hard Sell,” by Maggie Devlin*
When a Boy Doesn’t Need to Die,” by Paula Tavrow*
This Body of Work,” by Nayantara Premakumar*
This is what we do.” by Mandi Gundersen*
When Your Life’s Work No Longer Works,” by Lori Welch Brown
What It’s Like Working in an Office When You Have Tourette’s Syndrome,” by Caitlin Jill Anders
Somebody v. Nobody,” by Gunce Arkan
To All the Jobs I’ve Had Before,” by Jade Porter
I’m a Human Error, And That’s Okay,” by Benja Gabriel Thurgood
Secondary Traumatic Stress (or: On the Dispersal of Brain Matter in a Kentucky Trailer),” by Dan Canon
The Diminishing Value of a Stay-Home Mother After Divorce,” by Laura Friedman Williams
When I Was a Receptionist,” by Isha
The Low-Down, Dirty-Rotten, No-Good Worship of Work,” by Brandy L Schillace
Green Is the Color of My Eyes,” by Melissa Toldy
Why I Like a Good Funeral,” by Arianne Rice, M. Div. CDWF
We Meet on the Page: The Writer-Editor Relationship,” by Brenda Peterson
The Rat Race Is for the Rats,” by Ryan Frawley
I’m Retired, But I Can’t Stop Working,” by K M Brown
There’s Work, and Then There’s Your Life’s Work,” by Taylor Moran

November 5, 2021: A previous submission listed as an Honorable Mention has been replaced due to our technical error.

Feeling inspired? Here’s how you can get started writing on Medium:



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