Student creative writing winners announced


Winner: Nicole Vavalle

This year’s judge, Jeremy M. Davies, chose Nicole Vavalle as the winner of the Babbitt’s Prize for Short Fiction for her short story “Forsaken,” praising Vavalle for “understanding that the battle is always fought on the level of the sentence. Hers twist and turn and often end up in surprising places, and she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty in the process.” Vavalle will receive $50 cash and $50 in store credit from Babbitt’s Books in downtown Normal, Illinois. Honorable mention went to junior Mari Fike. Jeremy M. Davies, who is an editor at Dalkey Archive Press, is the author of the novel Rose Alley (Counterpath, 2009).


Winner: Stephen Whitfield

Judge Robert Archambeau selected first-year student Stephen Whitfield as winner of the Arthur William Hinners and Louise Hinners Sipfle Poetry Prize, presented by The Academy of American Poets. Archambeau noted that Whitfield’s poetry was of “consistently high quality,” and that Whitfield had “a way of making strong, sometimes startling, similes and metaphors.” Whitfield will receive $100 and a certificate from The Academy. Honorable mention went to senior Christy Spees. Archambeau is the author and editor of numerous books, including Home and Variations (Salt, 2004), a collection of poems, and Laureates and Heretics (Notre Dame, 2010), a work of criticism. He teaches English at Lake Forest College.

Diaz book makes the small press bestseller list

You’ve no doubt heard of The New York Times Bestseller List, but there’s a list for small press releases as well, and Professor Joanne Diaz‘ first book of poetry, The Lessons (Silverfish Review Press), is #5 on the Poetry Foundation list of February Best Sellers.

Joanne has a busy weekend promoting the book. Tonight–Friday, March 25, she’s featured with Elise Paschen in Evanston, Ill. at a Rhino Reads! Open Mic, and on Sunday, March 27, she’s offering a writing workshop at the Evanston Public Library.

Alum wins writing contest

Joanna Frieda Mulder (’08) is having a good week. In addition to receiving honorable mention from a competition sponsored by Blue Mesa Review, she recently won the H.E. Francis Short Story Award, sponsored by the Ruth Hindman Foundation and the Department of English at the University of Alabama at Huntsville.  “I also received a personal note/rejection from The New Yorker, she writes. “All this has encouraged me to continue.” Ironically or prophetically, her winning story was titled “This Will Be Our Year.”

Mulder, who won the Nikki Kaye Pape President’s Club Award for Excellence in Writing her senior year at IWU, will finish her MFA this May at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, where she works as managing editor for the national literary magazine Ecotone. Her honorable mention short story, “Gary, East Side, 1997,” is forthcoming in Issue #24 of Blue Mesa Review, which is published by students in the creative writing program at the University of New Mexico.

Students to present work at St. Francis conference

Two IWU students will share their work at the 20th Annual Undergraduate Conference on English Language and Literature, sponsored by the University of St. Francis in Joliet, March 18-19.

Nicole Travis (’11) will present “The Portrait of a King: Reconciling the Historic and Romance King Arthur,” and Christy Spees (’11) will present “Be a Man, Be a Woman, or Be Silent: Gender Identity in Le Roman de Silence.”

The conference draws participants from big schools (University of Chicago, Iowa State University) and small (Hope College, Eureka College), from the U.S. and Canada.