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Creative Writing Competition Winners

2020 Awards

Kathryn Stripling Byer Prize in Poetry

Winner - Rae Hanes, "How to Make Spaghetti"

"The poem is very clever," final judge Kevin Boyle says. "A very nice mix of sensory details related to pasta and sexuality, and an interesting use of the narrative form to get at emotion—regret and sadness, but the sadness is countered, in the poem, with a lot of dynamic energy that comes through a strong voice.”

Rae Hanes reads her winning poem, "How to Make Spaghetti"

Runner up - Libby Bradly, "Old Caroleen"

Kevin Boyle: “I enjoy how this poem sees the world. So many nice details like ice that slinks, or a pool caged by beer bottles.  The poem is a good example of how the natural world can often give us an opportunity to use our imaginations and write vividly.”

Julia Hudgins
Alana Eargle
Rachel Malmin
Brett Harbaugh
Carlos Enciso
Jade Shuler
Judged by Kevin Boyle, author of the poetry collections Astir and A Home for Wayward Girls, as well as the chapbook The Lullaby of History.

Read more about the late Kathryn Stripling Byer and her work.

Prize in Fiction

Winner - Foster Dalmas, “How Was Your Day Today?”

“Filled with humor and compelling indignation," final judge Abigail DeWitt writes. "This story gives us a smartly believable child’s POV without ever veering into sentimentality or cuteness. Dalmas’s prematurely world-weary narrator, outraged by his and his classmates’ imprisonment in school, is a wonderful example of an angry hero. This is a story I won’t soon forget, by an author I’m grateful to have discovered.”

Runner-up -Samantha Lughart, "Infestation"

Abigail Dewitt: “‘Infestation’ is a subtle and vivid meditation on a mother’s influence on her daughter. What seems at first to be ‘simply' a well-written story about ordinary pests reveals itself in the end to be something much more profound. Beautiful work by a talented writer I look forward to hearing more from in the future.” 

Jacob Padillo
Olivia Bevier
Pearson Buchanan
Riley Schwalm

Judged by Abigail DeWitt, author of the novels News of Our Loved Ones, Dogs, and Lili. Her short fiction appears in Witness, The Carolina Quarterly, The Alaska Quarterly, and elsewhere

Prize in Literary Nonfiction

Winner - Chrishaun Baker, “Shaniya”

Final judge Cassandra Kircher writes of Chrishaun's essay: “The narrator's ability to remember his eleven-year-old reaction to the disappearance of a child in his hometown as well as to imagine the disappearance from the perspective of his own parents makes this essay doubly haunting. Told in an almost chilly reporting style, Baker's essay makes it clear that what happens in a place can also tarnish it.”



Runner-up - Morgan Winstead, “Paper Kites”

Cassandra Kircher: “Focused on the power of memory, ‘Plastic Kites’ hovers delicately over an ordinary pre-school day that the essay's twenty-year-old narrator realizes might be extraordinary."

Cassidy Barbee
Francisco Cazares
Carina Blomberg
Augustus von Reinhardt

Judged by Cassandra Kircher, author of the essay collection Far Flung: Improvisations on National Parks, Driving to Russia, Not Marrying a Ranger, The Language of Heartbreak, and Other Natural Disasters.

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