Prizewinners Give Reading
If you’re looking for one thing to hold onto in the chaos of finals, try this: Oberlin will always have something to say. And sometimes it’s even poetic. Last week, amidst a busy weekend filled with activities, students and faculty took time to honor the winners of this year’s Creative Writing prizes. The Creative Writing program hosted its annual awards ceremony in the faculty lounge of Rice Hall last Saturday at 7 p.m.
All honorees gave a short reading to celebrate the occasion. While some read stories, spanning topics from hurricanes through the century to a father who leaves his family (but feeds his cat ice cream), others read poems about snakes, Pliny, learning to read and le pont d’Avignon.
Senior Katie MacBride and junior Lucinda Segar received fiction prizes, with honorable mentions going to seniors Kate Axelrod and Anna Leuchtenberger. In poetry, senior Claire Cheney, senior Leah Falk and junior Alena Jones were awarded prizes and senior Beth Rogers received an honorable mention.
“The purpose of the awards is to recognize some of the best writing from our students and to provide the college community with a rewarding literary experience,” said Associate Professor of Creative Writing Pamela Alexander.
The fiction awards were almost omitted this year due to a lack of funding. But Emeritus Donald R. Longman Professor David Young remedied this problem and provided the prizes, allowing the program to grant the awards. Usually, the fiction prizes are composed of donations from friends and alumni.
The poetry prizes include one that is funded by the parents of Emma Howell, an Oberlin student who died while studying abroad in Brazil (see the April 27 issue of the Review for information on her recently-published book).
According to Alexander, judges living and working outside Oberlin dictate many of the decisions. For example, poet Joan Houlihan, founding director of the Concord Poetry Center, participated in the selection process. However, these judges are sometimes familiar faces — Edan Lepucki, OC ’02, also read submissions this year.
The poetry and fiction competition is open to all Oberlin students, but most years the awards are swept by upperclassmen within the major. This year, all the awards went to female recipients; however, this is not always the case.
Regardless, the program always has a large number of submissions for the four awards, giving further evidence to the high level of interest in creative writing on this campus.
Alexander hopes that this enthusiasm will one day bring a larger attendance at events such as the awards: “I wish more people came…it’s such a good event!”