Meet 2019 Winner Melissa Valentine 

Photo: Ira James Photography

Photo: Ira James Photography


About Melissa Valentine:

Melissa Valentine was born and raised in Oakland, CA. Her nonfiction has appeared in Guernica, Jezebel, Apogee, and BLACKBERRY, among others. Melissa is a graduate of the MFA program at Mills College. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

About The Names of All The Flowers:

“Lyrical and smart, with appropriate undercurrents of rage.”
—Emily Raboteau

The Names of All the Flowers poignantly builds up to its heartbreaking loss with loving details. . . . This book has me all stirred up.”
—YZ Chin

The Feminist Press, TAYO Literary Magazine, and distinguished judges YZ Chin, Glory Edim, Tyler Ford, Natalia Oberti Noguera, Brontez Purnell, Emily Raboteau, Melissa R. Sipin, and Jamia Wilson are honored to award the 2019 Louise Meriwether First Book Prize to Melissa Valentine for her memoir, The Names of All the Flowers. Transporting readers to 1990s Oakland, Valentine shares the grief, despair, and rage she experienced when her nineteen-year-old brother, Junior, was murdered. Writes Valentine, “The story connects one tragic Black-on-Black death to a collective grief for all Black boys who die early deaths.” The book will be published by the Feminist Press in the summer of 2020.

“A stunning, evocative, and timely debut by a writer who carries the heritage and history of this country in her veins. . . . She will leave you breathless,” says Melissa R. Sipin, TAYO Literary Magazine editor in chief. “Valentine’s words on grief and trauma will stick with me for life,” explains writer and activist Tyler Ford. “This is a book I know I’ll return to time and time again.”

Click here to download the full press release.