Nina McConigley, assistant professor in the Department of English, has been named a finalist for a 2024 National Magazine Award in “Columns and Essays” for three of her columns published in High Country News.

Announced on February 15 by the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME), the awards are recognized as “one of the most prestigious journalism-awards programs in the United States,” and are sponsored by ASME in association with the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

McConigley, who joined the department in the fall of 2022, was selected for three articles, “Say Rabbit,” “Horse Girls,” and “Dino Time” that were published as part of her column called Township and Range, which she began in July 2022. In the column, McConigley writes about the intersection of race and family in the interior rural West.

Professor McConigley kindly checked in with us to share her experience of being nominated, details about her upcoming book, and more. Read the Q&A below!


Q&A with Nina McConigley

Can you describe the moment you found out you were named a finalist? 

I was actually between back-to-back zoom meetings – and saw my editor’s name on my phone with literally minutes till the next meeting. My first thought was I had missed the deadline for my next essay! But when she told me, I was very confused. They hadn’t told me they were nominating me, so it truly was a surprise. I was so happy and proud – it’s amazed me the chord these essays seem to strike. I never get emails about my fiction but get emails from readers with every column.


As primarily a writer of fiction, what does it mean to you to be recognized for your creative nonfiction? 

A little strange! I started writing the column when I was really stuck with my novel. The column started out being a way to write that wasn’t fiction. It also started right as I was moving to Colorado from Wyoming – so the column has been a great place to talk about the West and motherhood as we made the move.


Your first book of essays is coming out next year—can you tell us a bit how the columns paved the way to a collection? 

From this column, my next book was born! My collection of essays is coming out with Crux: The Georgia Series in Literary Nonfiction with the University of Georgia Press in Fall 2025. I have written essays here and there – I worked at a newspaper before I did my MFA. If you had told me my next book would be essays and not a novel, I would have laughed – but now I am writing a lot more essays. I have a longer one coming out this summer in Alaska Quarterly Review.

But as I had more and more columns, I wondered what to do with them. I wrote the book proposal and honestly was a bit shocked when Georgia accepted it.


Being nominated for this award is a huge honor—who would you like to thank and recognize for being there on this journey with you?

My two editors at High Country News! Jennifer Sahn and Gretchen King! And High Country News for really championing diverse voices in the American West. They made this column happen, and their careful editing has helped me as a writer.

Also, my colleagues at CSU. So many of the faculty in Creative Writing write in all genres, and they have inspired me to explore multi-genre work. Ramona Ausubel has been the biggest cheerleader of all my writing.

But also, my husband Michael, and my two daughters, Juniper, and Marigold. They let me write about them and give me all the stories.


The 2024 National Magazine Awards will be presented at Terminal 5, on West 56th Street in New York City, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 2. Congratulations, Professor McConigley! We’ll be rooting for you.

About Nina McConigley

Nina McConigley was born in Singapore and raised in Wyoming. She earned her MA from the University of Wyoming, and her MFA at the University of Houston. Her short-story collection Cowboys and East Indians was the winner of the 2014 PEN Open Book Award and a High Plains Book Award. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Orion, OOprah Magazine, ParentsVirginia Quarterly Review, American Short Fiction, and The Asian American Literary Review among others. In 2019-2020, was the Walter Jackson Bate fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and is a 2022 recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Creative Writing Fellowship. Her play based on Cowboys and East Indians was commissioned by the Denver Center for Performing Arts and will be premiering in February 2024, and she has essay collection forthcoming in 2025 from the University of Georgia.