Five undergraduates were honored by the College’s English department with awards in creative writing last Friday
Over 50 students submitted entries for judging in five different categories: two poetry, literary nonfiction, fiction and playwriting. The entries were then judged blind by a panel of English professors, after which the finalists in four categories were sent to be judged by Rosalind Brackenbury, the College’s writer-in-residence in the fall of 2006. Stan Kustesky, an adjunct English professor with a background in theater, judged the playwriting entries.
p. The mood at Friday’s assembly was one of anticipation, as approximately 40 of the writers gathered, having no idea whether they were even finalists. “This is the first year I know of, at least in a long time, that the winners did not know ahead of time,” Professor Emily Pease said. “In the past, we would announce the winners, and then they would be the only ones who show up. It’s really important that they share each other’s success.”
p. Freshman Joe Kessler nervously looked over his poems as he waited for the announcements to start. “I have no idea if I am even a finalist,” he said. Kessler, a prospective English major, had seen a flyer promoting the event. “I had some poetry lying around the room and decided to submit it,” he said.
With the room full of anxious writers, Pease began the award presentation. The first award, the Academy of American Poets Prize for a single poem, went to senior Marc Parlette for his poem, “To Mary Oliver.” Honorable mentions went to juniors Dan Piepenbring and Nathan Chin.
p. The next award, the Tiberius Graccus Jones Prize in Literary Nonfiction, went to sophomore Wyatt Hall. His piece, “C’est La Vie,” told of his experiences with love and religion over spring break. Hall read his piece, which includes references to head-spinning sexual decisions, to an attentive audience. “I’m really glad you read that,” Pease said once Hall had returned to his seat amidst roaring applause. Honorable mentions went to freshman Daniel Wolfe, junior Max Fisher and sophomore Rachel Olcheski.
p. The Howard Scammon Prize in Playwriting went to sophomore Emily Rossi for “The Hollow Men.” Rossi’s play tells of a Holocaust survivor who wants to tell her story before she dies. She presents her story in the words of the poem “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot. “Your judge loved this play and really thinks it’s one that should be put on stage,” Pease told Rossi. Honorable mentions went to junior Joshua Garstka and senior Raennah Mitchell.
p. The Glenwood Clark Prize in Fiction went to senior Elizabeth Derby for “Lunch Break,” the story of a recently graduated poet-wannabe who goes to work in an office in the big city. Through the help of a small child and a girl in a fountain, he realizes that life in a cubicle is not what he wants. Honorable mentions went to freshman Spencer Atkinson and sophomore Chas Tyson.
p. The last category to be awarded was the Goronwy Owen Poetry Prize. This prize was for either a single poem or a collection of poems. Sophomore Lindsay Gibson received the award for her series of poems entitled “Requiem.” Honorable mentions went to senior Marc Parlette, junior Rebecca Schneider and sophomore Casey Metheny.
p. In her introduction, Pease mentioned the necessity of competition among writers. “There are writers who shun [competitions],” she said. “They call them unseemly. But as we know, there is competition all over the place and writers do not have a lot of ways to get there work out there.”