GREENEVILLE – Six Tusculum University students have been honored by a national poet for their writing talent in a prestigious annual competition sponsored by the higher education institution.
The College of Civic and Liberal Arts recently held its Curtis and Billie Owens Literary Awards, a celebration of excellence in creative writing by Tusculum students. In this contest, an established professional writer reviews the submissions and chooses winners in four genres – drama, fiction, nonfiction and poetry
This year, John Hoppenthaler, author of three collections of poems – “Lives of Water,” “Anticipate the Coming Reservoir” and “Domestic Garden” – judged the contest. He selected winners in all four categories and gave honorable mention recognition in two of them.
The winners are:
• Drama – “Ten Minute Egg Timer” by David Presley, a senior majoring in English
• Fiction – “Abe’s Tree” by Kristopher Adams, a senior majoring in political science
• Nonfiction – “Amazing Grace” by John Lane, a sophomore majoring in two subjects: English and communications: public relations
• Poetry – “Return of the Meadow” by Rachel Swatzell, a senior majoring in English
Those receiving an honorable mention are:
• Nonfiction – “The Cost of Death” by Ida Ruth Naillon, a senior majoring in English
• Poetry – “Ode to the Dream of Frida Kahlo” by Whitney Bunch, a senior majoring in English.
“We’re proud of our students for continuing the tradition of contributing excellent work to this competition,” said Wayne Thomas, the college’s dean. “Tusculum has a strong reputation for quality in creative writing, and the Curtis and Billie Owens Literary Awards provides a platform to showcase our students and their skills. They are bringing acclaim to the university, and we are excited to see the direction these students will take in their future writing.”
Previous winners include Justin Phillip Reed, a 2013 Tusculum graduate and winner of the National Book Award for poetry in 2018.
Tusculum usually holds a ceremony on campus for the judge to name the winners and deliver remarks to the audience, but this year’s in-person event was canceled due to the coronavirus. As an alternative, Hoppenthaler shared a few thoughts by video and read “The Tiniest Toad in Moore County, N.C.,” a poem recently published in a James Dickey review and in an anthology called “A Constellation of Kisses.” To view his comments and reading, please visit https://bit.ly/2X4OpF1.
“I’m really glad your school has a competition like this,” Hoppenthaler said. “I’ve known Dean Thomas for a very long time, and I know how much he understands the important place creative writing has, not only in an English program but at a school of any sort.”
Curtis Owens, who was a professor and held a variety of administrative assignments at Pace University, and his wife, Billie, established the awards at Tusculum in 1995. He was a 1928 graduate of Tusculum, where he played football, debated, won an award for philosophy and two awards for poetry as well as wrote the class poem for the 1928 annual.
Creative writing is a concentration of the English major at Tusculum. For more information, please visit www.tusculum.edu.