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TCU English professors give out more than decent grades for good writing– once a year, they also hand out prizes.

The English department’s Creative Writing Contest, now in its 82nd year, is broken into 19 categories including fiction, poetry, multimedia and drama. Students can submit one entry per category. Professors in the department provide awards, others work with students on entries and the remaining serve as judges.

Cash prizes, which total up to $3,500, come from various sponsors including The Woman’s Wednesday Club as well as the personal funds of some English Department Faculty, Matthew Pitt, an English associate professor, said. 

Dr. Steven Sherwood, an English professor and director of TCU’s writing center, is a co-sponsor of the Margaret-Rose Marek Memorial Multimedia Writing Award and the Tony Burgess Environmental Writing Award. Sherwood said the contest is an opportunity for students to be compensated while sharpening their writing skills.

“By giving poets, fiction writers, essay writers and playwrights a chance to showcase their work and win some money the contests support the broader mission at TCU to improve students’ writing,” Sherwood said.

Last year Annelise Severtson, a senior English major, won first place in the “Non-Fiction Prose” and the “Personal Story” categories with work she had written for previous classes.

“[The contest] motivated me to return to pieces that I had already submitted for class assignments, but that I still wanted to work on and improve,” Severtson said.

She said she learned a lot about herself and her writing skills throughout the process of getting ready for the contest.

Severtson encourages other students to enter their work into the contest because it “challenges students to work on their writing outside of a class context.”

Starting in 2016, TCU created an online publication of the all of the winning pieces, which will publish this year’s winners as well. 

The contest is accepting submissions until Feb. 19 via its website. The winners will be awarded their prizes during the awards ceremony held at the Dee J. Kelly Center on April 17.