Ask any Emory tour guide where Emory ranks when it comes to writing, and he or she will undoubtedly tell you that USA Today ranked Emory University the number one college in the nation for budding writers. If our program is that great, one would think that these writers would have a chance to showcase their work to the Emory community. In late April, they were given this opportunity.
Emory University’s English and creative writing departments celebrated student writing on Thursday, April 26, 2012 during the annual English Department and Creative Writing Awards Night in the Joseph W. Jones Room, 311 Woodruff Library.
This year was the first year in which the English and creative writing faculty members introduced the winners, replacing the practice of inviting a renowned author to present the awards. This was also the first year in which the students were given the opportunity to read from their winning pieces, putting more attention on the students and their work.
Creative Writing Department Director Jim Grimsley began the night with rousing humor, inviting attendees to give him a round of applause. He welcomed those in attendance and introduced the awards and their various namesakes.
The first prize awarded was the Agnes Nixon and Kiki McCabe Prize for Screenwriting for Best Screenplay Written by an Emory Undergraduate. Jonathan Durie received Honorable Mention for his screenplay “Blood Red.” The winner of this prize, however, was College sophomore Young Eun (Grace) Kim for her screenplay “In the Woods.”
In Kim’s introduction, she said, “One must follow the maze and breadcrumbs from the author.”
She said that she hopes to provide her readers with these tools in her writing as well.
The audience was able to get a firsthand taste of Kim’s writing when two of her fellow students took the front of the room and performed a rainy scene from her screenplay in which a girl was missing and two characters were in the woods looking for her. Kim read the stage directions so the audience would have the best idea of the scene’s content.
Several awards presented at the annual ceremony are named in memory of Artistine Mann, a young writer and Emory undergraduate who lost her life in a car accident before she was able to graduate. One such award, the Artistine Mann Award in Drama for Best Play Written by an Emory Undergraduate was the second prize of the night. College senior Martin Krafft received Honorable Mention for his play “An Accident,” and Business School junior Emily Kleypas won the award for her play, titled “Strings.”
While Kleypas was not on campus to receive the award in person, she sent her thanks. Associate Professor Tim McDonough and Theater Lecturer Jan Akers read a scene in her play for the audience. In the intense moment, a husband and wife argue while attending a social event. The husband wants to stay and socialize, but the wife, in a heated monologue, claims, “Everyone in that room is fake!”
The Andrea de Man Award for Excellence in English was presented to College senior Raymond Colison, an English major concentrating in poetry. He was selected for his award based on his “original, insightful contributions” to the English Department, according to the Award Night’s program.
The Harry and Sue Rusche Scholarship — made possible by the contributions of not only Harry and Sue Rusche, but also past students of Rusche’s — was awarded to College junior Steffi Delcourt. Delcourt is double-majoring in English and psychology and described books as “secrets waiting to be told.” She explained that she plans to spend her senior year working on an honors thesis exploring character development in dystopian novels.
College sophomore Emily Gutierrez was presented with the Grace Abernethy Scholarship in Creative Writing, a prize awarded each spring to an outstanding creative writing major.
“I’m thankful for the department and the community there is here,” Gutierrez said. “It’s not just about the awards — it’s nice to read to people who you know and support you.”
Gutierrez read an excerpt from her short story “The Lamp,” the piece that won her the award. “The Lamp” follows a small group of teenage girls as they have weekly meetings at a health facility to help them recover from eating disorders.
“Friends judge the way we count the bones in our backs with our eyes closed,” Gutierrez solemnly read from her excerpt.
Fiction is not the only writing genre recognized by the Creative Writing Department. The Artistine Mann Award in Creative Non-Fiction for Best Non-Fiction Written by an Emory Undergraduate recognizes excellence in non-fiction short stories. College junior Michelle Izmaylov earned an Honorable Mention for her piece “(Not a) Love Story.” College junior Jamie Schlansky received the award for her short story “For What It’s Worth.”
Before reading, Schlansky explained that this piece was inspired by reflections she had on her great-grandmother’s life. The excerpt from which she read included a brief scene where several women in the family were cooking together, an activity that Schlansky identifies with her great-grandmother.
College sophomore James Zainaldin won the English Department’s Annual Competition for Best Essay Written by an Emory Undergraduate for his essay “Not Quite Eye to Eye: Philosophical and Theological Implications of Alfred’s Account of the Boethian Universe.”
Graduate Student Amy Elkins won the English Department’s Annual Competition for Best Essay Written by an Emory Graduate Student for her essay “Art and the Archive: Navigating Trauma in H.D.’s Within the Walls.”
The Artistine Mann Award in Fiction for Best Fiction Written by an Emory Undergraduate was presented to College freshman Anthony Walner for his short story “Kimosep.” College senior Omenka Uchendu received Honorable Mention for this category of the Artistine Mann Award for her story “The Peacock’s Undoing.”
The Academy of American Poets Prize for Best Poetry Written by an Emory Student is a prize that can be won by any Emory University student (as opposed to the Artistine Mann Award in Poetry, which can only be won by undergraduates).
Graduate School Student L. Belle Jones received Honorable Mention for this award for her poem “Instructions for Women Who Don’t Want Children.”
College sophomore Rachel Cawkwell won the prize for her poem “Persephone.” Her reading emphasized Persephone’s reluctance to return to her mother after her times spent in the Underworld with Hades.
The final award of the night was the Artistine Mann Award in Poetry for Best Poetry Written by an Emory Undergraduate. College freshman Hannah Blakeley received Honorable Mention or her poem “After Judith and Holovernes.” College senior Julie Levine won the prize for her poem “Warhol’s Green Car Crash Sells for a Record $71.7 Mil at Christie’s Auction.”
An open mic followed the official readings. Anyone was welcome to sign up to read an original piece. Honerable Mention recipient Uchendu volunteered to read her short story “about nothing.”
After the event, Uchendu said that she was blown away by the talent displayed during the evening and that it was nice to hear people’s work and see where they’re coming from.
College freshman Jonathan Vincent said that the talent of his colleagues that were featured throughout the night inspired him. “I feel that there’s an amazing talent here,” he said.
The faculty that introduced the winners were unmistakably impressed with the student work and proud of their accomplishments, evident from the pride in their voices and the wide smiles on their faces as they introduced their students.
One can only hope that the awards given were just the beginning for the undergraduates.
— Contact Kaylee Tuggle.