Vela’s First Nonfiction Contest: Results

Vela’s first Nonfiction Contest received over 500 submissions. We were humbled to read the stories women writers shared with us and impressed by their breadth of experience, style, and voice. We are thrilled to announce the following winner and two finalists. The winning essay is currently featured on Vela, and the two finalists will be published in the coming weeks.


Kayla Rae Candrilli for “Inversion.”

Kayla Rae CandrilliKayla Rae Candrilli recently received a Bachelors and Masters in Creative Writing at Penn State University. She has committed the next four years to the University of Alabama to study creative non-fiction and women’s studies. More than anything, Candrilli enjoys reading and rereading Marguerite Duras’s The Lover, as it taught her how to self indict and forgive.

Read “Inversion.”


Clare Boerigter for “The Fire Rises.”

Clare Boerigter

Clare Boerigter is a recent graduate of Grinnell College where she earned a B.A. in Spanish. Born in Saudi Arabia, she has studied in Mexico and Costa Rica and will spend the summer hiking and working on a farm in northern Spain, after which she will spend a month road-tripping between various national parks and forests in South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah and Arizona. She plans to relocate to Salt Lake City, Utah, in the fall, where she will continue to write both fiction and creative nonfiction, climb, run and bike.

Clare’s work has previously been published in The Nervous Breakdown, The Siren, and Plain China: Anthology of the Best Undergraduate Writing 2012. At some point in the future, she plans to attend an MFA program for writing.

Read ““The Fire Rises.”

Jessica Pishko for “Testimony.”

Jessica Pishko

Jessica Pishko graduated with a J.D. from Harvard Law School and received an M.F.A. in fiction from Columbia University. She practiced corporate law, specializing in securities fraud, and represented death penalty clients and victims of domestic abuse pro bono.

Read “Testimony.”







Our fabulous guest judge Michelle Orange had this to say about her winning selections:


“Style and razor-cut detail transform this spare family memoir into an intricate, densely remembered mood piece. I was moved and, in the final lines, thrilled by what the author was able to express with such economy and force.”

The Fire Rises

“Here again the voice is captivating, as is the story of a young woman chasing all manner of fire. There is something pure and hypnotic in the cadence of this remembrance, and its sense, bound up in the use of the present tense, of time melting together.”


“An excellent, uneasy sketch of a world hidden by design. Cut with ambivalence and contextually balanced, the essay is a skillful blend of personal and observational detail and socio-cultural analysis.”

Thank you to everyone who submitted and donated, and congratulations to our winner and finalists!


1 Comment

  • Dan K says:

    Where would I be able to find Clare Boerigter’s “The Fire Rises” or Jessica Pishko’s “Testimony?”

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