Written by: Priscilla Doran
DAYTON, TN – The Bryan College English Department hosted the 53rd Annual Literary Contest on Tuesday, April 21, 2022 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Students from across Bryan had the opportunity to submit their work in six Categories: Short Story, Poetry, Nonfiction Essay, Creative Nonfiction, Best/Worst Sentence, and Drama.
Matthäus Schwarzen walked away with wins in Short Story and Best/Worst Sentence, while Carter Rekoske took home first place in Poetry, Red Hazelwood won Creative Nonfiction, Sarah Hedrick was awarded first prize in Nonfiction Essay and Sophia Jaeger won Drama.
The English Department hopes the contest will continue to be an opportunity for students to explore creative writing outside of a classroom setting.
“When you just have this completely optional thing that nobody has to do, but a lot of people decide they want to do, that’s a really valuable space for students because they don’t have the pressure of grades or impressing a professor,” said Dr. Daniel Gleason, chair of the English Department. He hopes the contest will give non-English majors an excuse to flex their creativity.
Matthäus Schwarzen, a senior in Creative Writing, expressed surprise at taking home six prizes from the contest, placing first in two categories and was finalist in almost every other category. “I had no way to know that was going to happen. I figured if I make finalist in one I would be happy, but it’s always a total dream to win any category,” said Schwarzen.
When asked for advice, Creative Writing major Sarah Hedrick said, “If you want to submit to the contest, you should submit something you really enjoyed writing. My advice to writers is to always write what you know and enjoy.”
Still, writers should not be afraid to take a risk and submit a piece of their work they are unsure about. Asked about his award winning poem, Carter Rekoske said, “I almost didn’t submit that one at all.”
Dr. Gleason encourages writers of all majors to attend the awards night. “It’s very lively and affirming… and a good community building evening,” he said. The literary contest had 80 submissions this year and will happen again in the spring of 2023.