Pens, paper, prestige

Graphic by Alessandra McGovern

All year long, students in English are busy writing essays and students in creative writing are cooped up composing works of poetry and fiction. However, once a year they have the opportunity to turn that essay or creative piece into more than just a grade.

The Excellence in Studies of English Literature and Creative Writing awards gift students with a monetary prize in return for their best work on the essay topics of English literary studies, literature written in English before 1700, literature written in English from the 18th century to the present and in the categories of poetry and fiction.

Submissions are usually due at the beginning of February and outstanding works in each of these categories are shortlisted, with the winners being announced at a ceremony dedicated to the finalists. This year’s ceremony will be held on March 23 in LB-646 on the SGW campus.

The 2012 finalists for the A.G. Hooper Prize awarded for the best essay on the topic of literature written before 1700 are Marta Barnes, Veronica Belafi, John Casey and Dylan Sargent. Casey was last year’s recipient of this award. His essay on Viola’s identity in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night was said to have been chosen because the judges were keen to debate the arguments of his essay with him.

Along with the cash prize, Casey said the award “afforded a great opportunity to get together with my peers, other people that had similar interests to mine after the award ceremony. It was just a nice opportunity to hand in a paper to be read outside the classroom.”

The Irving Layton award, a tribute to the late author, is awarded for excellence in the writing of poetry and fiction. Professor Mary di Michele was this year’s judge for the poetry section of the award and described the shortlisted works as “beautiful pieces and very varied in terms of what they were about.”

One poem, for example, is a cycle of sonnets about working as a deck hand in Labrador while another is a celebration of pinball. This year’s shortlisted poets are Michael Chaulk, Stefano Faustini, Emma Healey and Domenica Martinello.
For Heather Davidson, last year’s recipient of the Irving Layton award for fiction, receiving the honour was about more than just the monetary reward. “I was nervous about graduating, so the award meant a huge boost. Keep doing this crazy writing thing,” she said. “It was the beginning of everything fortunate and literary that’s come after. The Irving Layton award represented all the great people at Concordia who believed in me while I was still trying to believe in myself.” The finalists for the Irving Layton award for fiction this year are Michael Chaulk, Alex Manley, Tyler Morency and Dylan Sargent.

The Compton-Lamb Memorial Scholarship is awarded on the basis of academic excellence as well as the submission of an essay about English literary studies. Finalists for this year’s scholarship are Robin Graham and Matthew Dunleavy. Finalists for the MacGuigan Prize, which is awarded on the merit of an essay written about a work of English literature written between the 18th century and the present, are Veronica Belafi, Danielle Bird, John Casey, Paula Wilson and Kevin Yildirim.

Winners of the Excellence in Studies of English Literature and Creative Writing awards will be announced on March 23 during a ceremony in LB-646 at 2 p.m. All faculty, staff and students are invited to attend.


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