Meet the Cheryl Strayed/VIDA Memoir Scholar

Wild Mountain Memoir Retreat and VIDA are thrilled to announce that

Valerie Due

has been selected as the Cheryl Strayed/VIDA Memoir Scholar and will be attending Wild Mountain Memoir Retreat on a full-ride scholarship.

VIDA judges read through a thick stack of 95 applications and deliberated over the past week, choosing Due as the recipient and four finalists:

Alexandra Behr
Amy Beth Schneider
Elizabeth Haussler
Carrot Quinn

Valerie Due is Associate Editor of River Teeth and has been a marketer, editor, and ghostwriter. Her nonfiction has won fellowships and appeared Fourth Genre, Quarterly West, River Teeth, and state department magazines. She earned an MFA from Ashland University, and lives with two retirees: a lifeguard and a greyhound.

Read about Due’s work-in-progress, The Skinning Board:

In 1982, President Reagan suggested that America keep the farms but rid itself of the farmers. Two percent of Americans farmed. By 1998, less than one-half of one percent still farmed, my family among them. We had survived.

My father escaped foreclosure through austerity and resourcefulness, selling inherited land, inventing equipment, diversifying farm products, and leaning on family labor—my brother and I.

For ten years, I lived five hours away yet drove home weekends and vacations to work the farm. I hid my roots and weekends from classmates, friends, and coworkers, ashamed by the cultural disgust for farmers, the myth that they deserved a farm crisis and lived as economic parasites. My shame built a wall that kept me from committing to a farmer I loved and the father and farm that molded me.

Then came my Solomon’s choice: Accept a lucrative promotion to a distant city, or accept my farmer’s ultimatum to move home and give us—and farming—a chance. My brother left the farm; my father needed me more than ever.

This is a story about leaving roots, abandoning dreams, rejecting family. It’s also a story about American culture and identity, about what happened to family farming and farm communities, and the continuity of love despite distance, pride, and economics.


Still hoping to win a chance to attend?  Enter the 6-Word Memoir Contest before Monday, February 25th at Midnight.

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