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Personal Writing

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I AM A DESCENDANT OF SLAVEHOLDERS. CHARLOTTESVILLE DEMANDS MY HONESTY ABOUT WHITE SUPREMACY.

As a descendant of slaveholders and Confederate soldiers, I want to tell the truth about the evil that my ancestors and the Confederacy perpetrated, the repercussions their crimes have today, and how I and other white people still benefit from discrimination against people of color.

Aug. 2017 @ Harper’s Bazaar ⟶

I DONATE MY BREAST MILK, AND THIS IS WHY

With an overabundance of milk, I learned how to donate it to babies in need.

Jul. 2017 @ The Washington Post ⟶

Reprinted in The Lily.

I’VE KNOWN TWO CONVICTED CHILD SEX OFFENDERS. BUT I REFUSE TO PARENT BY FEAR.

On two occasions, I’ve worked with men who were later convicted of child sexual abuse offenses. One of them shocked me; the other didn’t. Now, as my husband and I prepare for the birth of our first child, the question I’ve asked before has become more demanding: How can we help our child navigate a world in which it will inevitably meet people who want to harm it?

Jul. 2016 @ The Washington Post ⟶

WHY FLASH FICTION? IT’S A NOT-QUITE ACCIDENT

I’ve known since I was a kid that I wanted to be a writer. I was shy and uncoordinated, but writing made sense to me in a way that little else did. I could hear a rhythm to language, and I wanted to put it to paper.

Mar. 2016 @ SmokeLong Quarterly blog ⟶

TEACHING FLASH FICTION TO DEVELOPING WRITERS

On my first day of teaching flash fiction writing to high school students, I overheard some of my students wonder aloud: What is flash fiction?

Jul. 2015 @ SmokeLong Quarterly blog ⟶

SOLVING A FAMILY MYSTERY 68 YEARS AFTER A DEATH ON D-DAY

Since my childhood, my mom has told me, “Your grandfather’s best friend was killed beside him on D-Day.” She uses the same phrase every time: “killed beside him.” As a child, I understood this meant my grandfather and his friend were heroes, but it also explained why Grampy struggled to talk about it.

May 2015 @ The Huffington Post ⟶

WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU DOESN’T NECESSARILY MAKE YOU STRONGER

When I was 15, I attended a writing workshop with a girl who had been sexually abused by a family member, trauma that she explored in her poetry. She said she was offended when people told her: “I’m really sorry that happened to you.” She felt like they were saying they wanted to change her, so she’d reply: “Don’t be. It made me who I am today.”

Jan. 2015 @ The Washington Post ⟶

Reprinted in the Chicago Tribune, Denver Post, and Salt Lake Tribune.

AT THE GYNECOLOGIST’S OFFICE

I was sitting in my gynecologist’s office, waiting to get my IUD removed so my husband and I can have a baby, when the woman across from me began telling a nurse about her daughter who killed herself the previous year.

Aug. 2014 @ The Toast ⟶

A FRIEND LOVES AT ALL TIMES

I am hunting you, Elisabeth. I pack a small bag and leave home before the sun’s up. I go down to the lake where we swam as children and perch nibbled our toes, mistaking them for stout worms. I go back to the field where we found you, take off my gloves, and trace your imprint in the snow.

Spring 2016 in Paycock Press’s Abundant Grace: Fiction by D.C. Area Women ⟶

WARM AND DISLOYAL

Laurie never used anything she learned in home ec until she dumped Neil. Now she’s sewed a voodoo doll—back stitch, overcast stitch, running stitch. Two days ago she cut up Neil’s gray Old Navy hoodie that he gave her after the homecoming dance . . .

Feb. 2015 @ Gargoyle 62. Reprinted Jan. 2016 @ Eunoia Review ⟶

Nominated by Gargoyle editors for a Pushcart Prize.

THE RIP

Bethany’s little sister asks for an omelet. From beneath her pile of down and crocheted blankets, Gloria requests eggs with cheese, chorizo, and potatoes. She lifts her bloated hands, holds them seven inches apart, and says, “Make it this big.”

Sep. 2014 @ WhiskeyPaper ⟶

Nominated by WhiskeyPaper editors for Best Small Fictions of 2015.

A GOOD BODY

A rusted mess of barbed wire nearly stripped Debbie of her torso in her first and only car accident.

Feb. 2014 @ Tin House’s Flash Fridays ⟶

Selected by BookPeople as a recommended weekend read.

“Virgie Townsend’s Flash Friday on the Tin House blog shows the power of a very few well-chosen words.” — Rob Spillman, Tin House editor.

BECAUSE WE WERE CHRISTIAN GIRLS

Because we were Christian girls from fundamentalist churches, we wore our dads’ old, floppy t-shirts to the pool at our co-ed Christian camp.

Jan. 2014 @ Bartleby Snopes, Issue 11 ⟶

Included in Bartleby Snopes, Issue 11 as a staff selection.

Available on Kindle.

THE CRUNCH

Marcella’s foot bounces forth and back, forth and back, as she unlearns middle school math. With her right hand, she unscrawls her name– the curling ‘c’ and looping ‘ls’– from the desk, and then sweeps her red hair out from behind her ear.

May 2011 @ Pif Magazine ⟶

Selected by Pif editors for inclusion in Best of Pif, Volume One.

SEVENTEEN

Your mother called me after you went missing, asking if I knew anything they should know. There aren’t a lot of places to hide in Victorsville, and she was worried because no one had seen you since the night before.

Jan. 2011 @ Every Day Fiction ⟶

Voted by readers as one of Every Day Fiction’s top 10 stories of 2011.

FEB. 2015 @ THE INNER LOOP, WASHINGTON, D.C.

For The Inner Loop’s one-year anniversary party. To listen to Virgie read “A Good Body,” click here.

MAR. 2015 @ MR. BEAR'S VIOLET HOUR SALOON

This episode of Mr. Bear’s Violet Hour Saloon features Virgie’s story, “The Freeze.”

NOV. 2014 @ THE INNER LOOP, WASHINGTON, D.C.

For an ongoing series that has featured more than one hundred D.C.-area writers.

MAY 2014 @ SMOKELONG QUARTERLY

The Best Of The First Ten Years Book Launch, Arlington, VA

SEP. 2013 @ WATERBEAR READING SERIES, ARLINGTON, VA

Featuring Rae Bryant and Theodore Carter, authors, respectively, of The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals and The Life Story of a Chilean Sea Blob and Other Matters of Importance.

DEC. 2011 @ SMOKELONG QUARTERLY

Nancy Stebbins, former editor at SmokeLong Quarterlyinterviews Virgie about her story, “The Freeze.”

JUL. 2013 @ EVERY DAY FICTION

This episode of Every Day Fiction’s podcast features Virgie’s story, “Seventeen,” read by Folly Blaine.