An audience quietly listened Monday in the Dee J. Kelly Alumni Center as a few of the Creative Writing Award recipients read excerpts from their winning entries.
For more than 50 years the English department has given cash prizes to students for their written submissions in several categories including poetry, fiction and non-fiction essays.
“I’ve been at TCU for five years, and every year we’ve received more submissions,” Alex Lemon, assistant professor and director of the Creative Writing Awards, said.
This year, the department received more than 150 submissions, Lemon said. The majority of the submissions were for the creative writing genres including fiction, poetry and non-fiction writing.
However, the awards ceremony also showcased student submissions in digital media, literary criticism, analytical essays and Christian writing.
More than $3,000 in prize money and 27 different awards were presented to students from majors across campus, Lemon said.
“It really is a celebration of student writing,” Lemon said. “It’s open to everyone and we get winners from all over the school.”
Charlotte Hogg, an associate professor of English, said the university has a long history of honoring student work.
“The Creative Writing Awards allow the students to get a signal that their work is valued,” Hogg said.
Senior theater major Storey Hinojosa said she submitted work from her Creative Writing class, which she took in order to try something different.
Hinojosa won four awards including the Non-Fiction Prose contest, the Bill Camfield Memorial Award for Humor and Satire in Fiction and second place in the Harry Opperman Short Story contest.
Junior art history major Lynn Kelly said he submitted a story that he had been working on for “a long time.” He was awarded first place in the Harry Opperman Short Story contest.
“I thought there was no way I would win,” Kelly said. “I was flabbergasted, even though I think it’s good.”
In addition to the monetary prizes for category winners, Lemon said the students will also be published in the Creative Writing Awards publication, which will be available in the English department.
The submissions were judged by university faculty and writers from across the country who have “strong national reputations,” Lemon said.
“The quality of the work that the students submit has gotten better and better every year,” Lemon said.
During the awards ceremony, sophomore English and anthropology double major Allana Wooley was announced as the winner of the Sandra Brown Excellence in Literary Fiction Scholarship.
The full-tuition scholarship is awarded to a rising junior who displays “academic excellence and significant potential as a writer,” according to the scholarship website.
The scholarship’s namesake, Sandra Brown, presented Wooley with the award. Brown said she has “marveled each year at how fabulous the recipients are.”
“Allana will keep us very proud of the scholarship that wears my name,” Brown said. “This young lady is a real writer.”
Brown is a TCU alumna and the author of 62 New York Times best-sellers since her writing career started in 1991, according to her website. She said she founded the scholarship in order to help encourage TCU student writers and support a junior complete their last two years of schooling.
“Hopefully these awards are only the beginnings of what these students will do as writers,” Matthew Pitt, an assistant professor in the English department, said. “There is a community of writers on this campus that TCU can be proud of.”