Next: Visions Toward a Less Divided America


Pangyrus congratulates our nonfiction writing 2021 contest winner, Grace Segran!

Grace’s essay, “Playground Primer”, was chosen by guest judge Jabari Asim as the winner. Grace will receive $1,000 and publication in Pangyrus’s essay collection NEXT: Visions Toward a Less Divided America, to publish in June 2022.

Jabari Asim had this to say about Grace’s work:

In “Playground Primer,” the author interrogates her experiences with otherness as an adopted mixed-race child in Malaysia and as an adult racial minority in the Philippines, various European countries and, most tellingly, in the United States. She navigates schoolrooms, workplaces, and playgrounds, each of which reveals additional complexities of racial discrimination. With her home life as a wife and mother providing a valuable refuge, she pits her persistent optimism and self-reliance against harmful assumptions and stubborn ignorance. In patient, eloquent prose, she offers a heedful warning that we must challenge prejudice directly, that globalization and the high-speed spread of information are not enough to overcome long-standing divisions by themselves.

Grace Segran is a former journalist and global nomad who lives in Boston. Her personal essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Smart Set, Pangyrus, The Common, Brevity Blog and elsewhere. You can read another Pangyrus essay by Grace here.


Divisiveness has become a hallmark of life in the United States, shaping the way we interpret social justice, identity, the ecosystem, the visual arts, and–as the pandemic has laid bare–even our health and mortality.

The “old normal,” much as we might crave returning to it in some ways, was rife with anti-intellectualism, police violence against Black people, racial antipathy toward people of color, broad-based social inequity, and a collision course with global warming? What might a “new normal” look like?

NEXT: Visions Toward a Less Divided America will be a Pangyrus book publication, due to come out in June 2022.

The volume will be edited by Artress Bethany White, our nonfiction editor, as well as guest editor Jabari Asim, an accomplished poet, playwright, and writer. Asim is the director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Emerson College, where he is also the Elma Lewis Distinguished Fellow in Social Justice. A Guggenheim Fellow, he is the author of 13 books for children and 7 books for adults. His recent book, We Can’t Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies, and the Art of Survival, was a finalist for the PEN Diamondstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay in 2019. His next novel, Yonder, has just published.

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