Students were awarded cash prizes for their entries in poetry and fiction yesterday at the Annual Student Literary Awards, which kicked off the 22nd annual Beall Poetry Festival.
The Festival is a free, three-day celebration of contemporary poetry consisting of poetry readings, panel discussion, a lecture and the Annual Student Literary Awards.
“It’s one of the top poetry events in the United States,” said professor of the department of English Dr. Richard Russell, who has organized the Beall Poetry Festival for the last six years.
The Student Literary Awards honor the winners of the annual Student Literary Contest. The awards were sponsored by the English department and the Beall Poetry Festival. The contest is open to both undergraduate and graduate students of all majors and includes a category in poetry and in fiction.
Award-winning poet Chloe Honum, who will be teaching as an English professor in the fall, was the judge of the poetry entries. Honum is the author of “The Tulip-Flame,” which won Foreword Review’s Book of the Year Award, the Eric Hoffer Book Award and several other awards.
The judge of the fiction category was fiction author, critic and essayist Carmen Maria Machado, whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, Paris Review, NPR and the Los Angeles Review of Books.
“Showing up for the Student Literary Awards ceremony is really cool,” said assistant professor of the department of English Arna Hemenway. “It’s the kick-off of the festival, but also each of the winners read a little bit of their work and it’s a chance to feel like you’re a part of it and that it’s something you might achieve as a student.”
In the poetry category, Bryan senior Landon McGee was awarded first place and $200, Waco senior Tirzah Reilly placed second and was awarded $100, as was the second runner-up, Bloomington, Mn., senior Mackenzie Peery and reshman Morgan Stewart won fourth place and was awarded $50.
Ouilla senior William Temple came in first place for his entry in fiction and was awarded $100. Second-place winner Houston ,senior Madeline Sneed won $50, and Sonoita, Ariz., senior Helena Hunt was awarded an honorable mention.
Two graduate students also received awards. Waco graduate student Amy Schroeder was awarded $100 for her poetry entry, and Waco graduate student Nathan Roberts was awarded $75 for his entry in fiction.
Hemenway also announced a new award this year: the Robert E. Hemenway Award honoring a student writer from an underrepresented community, which Hemenway described as any community whose voices have not historically been championed by the literary establishment, such as writers of color, female authors and non-heteronormative identifying authors. Katy senior Jamila Dohvoma received this award, along with $150.
After each prize was announced, the winning writer read a short selection from their work.
“I really enjoyed hearing all the other poems and excerpts that were read,” said Tirzah Reilly. “It’s a great way to get together and celebrate that.”
The Beall Poetry Festival continues today and Friday, with the Virginia Beall Ball Lecture on Contemporary Poetry by critic Ernest Suarez at 3:30 in 101 Carroll Science Hall, a poetry reading by contemporary American poet Nicole Cooley at 7 p.m. in Bennett Auditorium, a panel discussion 3:30 p.m. in 101 Carroll Science Hall on Friday and a final poetry reading by Kevin Young at 7 p.m, in Bennett Auditorium.