Writing Prize Competition 2022 Results

Students will be notified directly regarding prize details.  

Undergraduate Prizes

Academy of American Poets Prize: Best single poem.

Winner: Casey Harloe as Mary Moonie - “When I Close My Eyes I Think Of”

In the prose poem “When I Close My Eyes I Think Of,” a Filipina speaker explores the memory of a microaggression—a boy in a class calling her a racially charged derogatory name—and its detrimental effects. The reader is brought along as the speaker watches online make-up tutorials, as she shops for eye liner, as she internalizes the boy’s anti-Asian attitude: “To hide my hooded lids. I dragged thick black ink across my crease… In hopes he would call me pretty instead. To become a stranger.” The poet uses sentence fragments and repetition deftly, revealing the way thought becomes stilted, doubling back on itself in the face of trauma and its disorientations. Yet we also see the speaker’s changing consciousness, as she painfully becomes aware of the racism to which she has been subjected. In a workshop on microaggressions, she is flooded with emotion as she begins to understand the sources of her own “exhaustion.” This poem is formally adept, entirely specific in its recounting (YouTube! Sephora!), and illuminating in its psychological portrayal. This is a poem for and of our time.

Honorable Mention: Amelia Schofalvi as A. LaPointe - “To Thread a Spider Leg (Like a Needle)” 

Judge: Cass Donish


English Composition Prize: Outstanding Essays written for an ENGL1000, 1001, 1002, 1012 or 2089 class. 

First Prize: Safa Alam as Choti A - "A Moroccan Tale of Education"
A creative reimagining of the life of Fatima al-Fihri, founder of the first university in Fez, Moroccan. Written through the voice of Fatima al-Fihri, this essay weaves together the voice and life of this historical figure with emotional imagery takes the reader on a journey in time.

Second Prize: Lili Alimohammadi as Lennie Ali - "The Iranian Revolution Through the Lives of Iranians" 
A historical perspective of how the lives of Iranians were disrupted and transformed by the Iranian Revolution. Showing the harmful effects not only on the socio-economic status of Iranians but also on their cultural arts world and personal lives.

Third Prize: Meredith Chin as Maura Howell - "At the End Credits Roll: My Piano Literacy"
A literacy narrative that weaves with words the musical journey of a young pianist and her adventures along the way. Written with candor and humor, she compares her journey to a Hallmark movie with adventures along the way.

Judges: Beverly Brannan, Ron Hundemer, Mary Leech


Hopton Short Story Prize: Best short story of 12 pages or less.

Winner: Lindsey Wyen as Helene Linwood-Briar - “Get Well Soon”
"Get Well Soon" features an exhilaratingly unpleasant protagonist. Though her thoughts and actions are reprehensible, she is a wickedly funny and charming narrator. Beneath her caustic voice and her outrageous behavior readers can see her vulnerability, loneliness, and conscience. During her week at a rehab facility, her defenses are gradually stripped away and she approaches reckoning and revelation. In this story the author demonstrates impressive skill not only with voice but with narrative shape and structure. 

Honorable mention: Nehalem Chudnoff as Jules Finch - "Sivvy Spots a Spirit"

Honorable mention: Sydney Llewellyn as ZaphodBeeblebrox - "Salmon Roe"

Judges: Chris Bachelder, Michael Griffith


Jean Chimsky Poetry Prize: Outstanding group of three to five poems.

Winner: Casey Harloe as Mary Moonie
I see this artist tending to imagery, ideation, moment, and the line with intricate intensity! In the prose poem “Breakfast,” the voice explores the complex familial dynamics of intergenerational migration, “I read my mother a new poem at breakfast…She says this won’t save lives…I think she means this is not what she immigrated across the Pacific to America for. This is not The Dream. That I am wasting my opportunity and scholarship and suburban driveway. I think she means I am not her daughter, the one she made.” I am pulled into these aching worlds—the liminal spaces where BIPOC voices must carve meaning for themselves. These poems ask difficult questions: What does it mean to be “American” in a country with such hate toward Asian American Pacific Islanders? What does it mean to be a second-generation Filipino immigrant living in the shadow of familial ideas of an “American Dream”? How is this “Dream” damaging? How does a person form self and community when they feel constantly caught in the in between? From the metaphor of “I am leaning against eggshell stucco” while watching Manny Pacquiao’s boxing match, to the rumination of religion and the death of a matriarchal figure where the voice writes, “The only time I tried doing prayer/ was when she hung by a ventilator;// But I was never surprised/ when it didn’t work and she died,” to grieving the estrangement of language and culture in, “I grieved that simple conversation was/ always stuck in my throat. I grieved that summer in Cebu//…I felt like I already lost that June when I had to/ google ‘good morning’ in Bisaya. Butchered saying maayong buntag,” these poems turn in and over the lines to reveal interiority and external presence of a life in fragments—working to weave themselves whole.

Honorable Mention: Ria Parikh as Rose Gray 

Judge: Felicia Zamora


Literary Nonfiction Prize: Best submission of 10 pages or less. 

Winner: Nehalem Chudnoff as David Day - “Brian, from Afar”
“Brian, from Afar” is a profound exploration of grief, memory-as-archive, and the power of the imagination. Navigating at least two layers of memory—the writer’s own and their mother’s— Chudhoff cinematizes fragments of the life and tragic death of Brian so that we-as-readers come to witness it too: “The lamp at his bedside bathes him in a warm glow, returning the golden hum to his pale flesh.” Chudhoff's continual questioning (“I am imagining this all wrong.” “If he even said it at all.”) of their own version of these refracted memories highlights at once the precarity and power of narrating that which cannot entirely be known: this is how we make do; this is how we make do with memory.

Honorable Mention: Isabella Perrin as Alina Kane - "God's Goodbye"

Honorable Mention: Casey Harloe as Mary Moonie - "Lola Says Grace"

Judges: Kristen Iversen, Aditi Machado


Professional Writing Prize: Excellence in professional writing.

Winners: Elliott Leonow, Lily Stewart, Jason Repasy, Aaron Tigert as Team Caldwell - Maple Sugaring Sign Project
For their final project in Writing for Parks and Museums, this team of students created a series of five signs for Caldwell Nature Preserve’s Maple Trail. The skillfully designed large trailhead sign includes engaging text, strong visuals, and a helpful trail map. The students also designed several smaller signs to mark specific points of interest along the trail. Demonstrating creativity and a willingness to go beyond the minimum requirements, the team wrote and recorded audio files that visitors could access through QR codes placed on the signs. The audio clips explain maple tree identification, detail the process of maple sugaring, and even share legends about the origin of maple syrup. The park’s naturalist was impressed with the professional sounding audio and appreciative of the group’s adherence to Cincinnati Parks' branding.  

Judges: Lora Arduser, Teresa Cook, Antoinette Larkin


Robinson Essay Prize: Outstanding essay.

First Prize: Tyler McDonald as Taylor Smith - "Seven"
"Seven" is creatively written and very engaging.  The writer takes us through many of Taylor Swift’s songs and sagely connects them to the writer’s own life and musical interests growing up.

Second Prize: Ashley Albert as Ash Ryell - "Destigmatization of HIV/AIDS: A Comparative Genre Analysis"
The writer performed a skillful comparative genre analysis of three rhetorical works on HIV/AIDS and the stigma and discrimination that often resulted.  The essay is a good examination of how audience and genre impact the rhetor’s rhetorical choices.

Third Prize: Mars Robinson as Elizabeth Noble - "al sharpton"
An imaginative, almost prose-poem using Al Sharpton as a springboard to discussing Black Lives Matter issues.  With astute description, provocative insights, and effective repetition, the writer drives home some powerful points.

Judges: Lee Person, Gary Vaughn 

Screenplay Prize
: Best short screenplay of 10 pages or less. 

Winner: Isabella Perrin as Alina Kane - "Bittersweet"
This screenplay is a poignant, lively, and fresh take on the classic girl-meets-boy story. The monologues and the economical, well-placed flashbacks reveal and develop character, while the transitions in time are fluid and logical. The erroneous use of American Sign Language adds humor without trivializing the challenges of someone who has recently lost hearing. In just seven pages the author creates a vivid protagonist and an immersive drama that avoids cliché and sentimentality. Impressive!

Judges: Lisa Ampleman, Chris Bachelder 

Staples Senior Honors Thesis: Best senior honors thesis this academic year.

Winner: Collin Dorrey as Kai - "Newgenics in Modern Empires: Institutionalized Bias and the Status Quo"
The winner in the senior thesis category is Colin "Kai" Dorey. In their thesis "Newgenics in Modern Empires" the writer stands on its head the notion that eugenics is a "thing of the past, rooted in nineteenth century thought and blossoming in the twentieth century." Instead, their paper describes "the modern form that eugenics has taken on as it has shifted from overtly authoritarian and fascistic to corporate neoliberalism." Through energetic prose, they teach that medicalization, ableism, incarceration, and other institutional pressures are tools and trademarks of newgenics--while identity politics and homogenization play a role in the newgenics of modern social structures. Dorey warns that we "must recognize the foundations of bias on which newgenics stands, the method by which perception slowly shifts to accept ... standards of normalcy, then to allow de-personification, then sub- and dehumanization". They further encourage the reader to "stand up, take control of their power, and resist newgenics -- so that together we can truly move forward as a society like we thought we had."

Judge: Cheli Reutter



Graduate Prizes

Academy of American Poets Prize: Best single poem.

Winner: Sean Cho Ayres as Wordle Will - "New Memory #1"
“New Memory #1” unfolds a story of what punctuates, and what in doing so gently forms knowledge. The gentleness is that of a large animal’s underside. Disarming, but with certain though unimaginable consequences. Texts take form in relationship to slaughter, or to trees wet with melted snow. In any case, knowledge of one’s [bear]self is a practice of relation. 

The narrative interrupts itself, and this too is part of the story. As are the moments we pause on account of punctuation we did or didn’t expect. That acknowledgement of expectation, of what is subconsciously coded (and thus made invisible) as meaningful, is what raises its head from these quiet lines. 

Honorable Mention: Lisa Low as Juniper Breeze - "Ars Poetica"

Judge: Saretta Morgan


Hatfield/Westheimer Short Story Prize: Best short story of 10 pages or less.

First Prize:  Hassaan Mirza as Pony Maronie - “Hometown"
This surreal tale about a Pakistani man fleeing a plague of slugs follows his desperate settling in Montana, his rejection and yet desperate craving for connection. The story achieves high philosophical considerations about illusion, the wild west, and love while remaining humorous, playful and devoted to character. This was a joy to read. 

Second Prize: David Schwartz as Astral Fontaine - “The Binding Thing” 
This coven of bros was so richly imagined, so real that I swore I would meet them on the street. They see themselves fractured through the lens of a reality TV show, but the story’s final paragraph, a crescendo in a story that moves as quickly and as loudly as an Adele chorus, ends on such a bittersweet note of friendship that it haunted me.

Third Prize: Rome Hernández Morgan as Clover B Revery - "Mediodía, Medianoche”
A quiet rumination of an old man and his prodigal children and grandchildren on a vacation to the ancestral home, this story examines diaspora from the other side, who is left behind and what is lost. This story ends on a beautiful heart-striking line about a nahuatl word getting lost in the diaspora.

Judge: Brenda Peynado 


Jean Chimsky Poetry Prize: Outstanding group of three to five poems.

Winner: Andy Sia as Mousse Fluffernutter - "The Island"
I think what Andy Sia's poems are up to—that I’m unsure contributes to the thrill of reading them—is something like poking one’s head out from just under the nervous shell of being to survey what’s out there, feeling it all very intensely, and then trying to approximate that intensity in a trippy language just preventing itself from making (too much) sense. As island, as flower, as pebble and tree and star, this poet is fully, negatively capable of kicking language up several notches toward its “upper limit music” (“You, fur-bidden and runnel. I atom. I tunnel.”) and “explod[ing] the schema from the inside out.” “Greetings, welcome to my head. Ding! That’s an idea. Ding! Ding! Ding! That’s ideas. Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! They come like little men spilling out of a broken egg,” writes Sia, a joyous but scattered host. Thank you for having me, I write joyously, scatteredly back.  

Honorable Mention: Dior J. Stephens as Dolphin Neptune - "Neptune"

Judge: Aditi Machado


Literary Nonfiction Prize: Best submission of 10 pages or less. 

First Prize: Tiffany Tucker as Toni Childs - "Straight Up Out the Heartland" 
A compelling weave of personal story and the search for racial justice, “Straight Up Out the Heartland" echoes elements of a bildungsroman against a historical and cultural context that includes Chicago, the Civil Rights era, and contemporary pop culture. As the protagonist navigates challenges in their life and the academic environment, the love and support of vividly portrayed characters carries the essay in the end, and the reader is left to understand that love is a powerful force in a world where equality is still an arduous journey for far too many.

Honorable Mention: Hassaan Mirza as Pony Maronie - "What does it Mean to Eat a Croissant?" 

Honorable Mentions: Claire Kortyna as Cyborg 1 - "The Wind Spirit"

Judges: Kristen Iversen, Antoinette Larkin


Playwriting Prize: Best play.

Winner: Afsheen Farhadi as Evander Fakename - The Former Critic
The Former Critic is a play that’s proudly old-fashioned, filled with big speeches and big ideas. It harks back to a lost age not only of theater but of film, and especially of film criticism. The committee was especially fond of the way the playwright, like Manuel Puig in Kiss of the Spider Woman, moves the plot along by having characters narrate to each other the plots of films they’ve seen. A throwback and a pleasure. 

Judges: Lisa Ampleman, Michael Griffith


Robin Sheets Critical Essay Prize: Best critical essay. 

First Prize:  Madeleine Wattenberg as Elle Woods - "Queer Clearings: Mapping a Queer Ecopoetics"
A very professional and comprehensive essay about a queer Ecopoetics, expertly grounded in prior scholarship, with smart readings of such writers as Walt Whitman, Jenny Johnson, and Tommy Pico.

Second Prize: Rebecca Thacker as Janice Thompson - "I’m Going Back To School: A Fortysomething-year-old Urban Appalachian And The Academy"
An engaging and even moving personal narrative about the challenges of educational aspiration and achievement within the context of an Appalachian background.

Third Prize: Tiffany Tucker as Toni Childs - "Lemonade: The Past and the Future Merge to Meet Us Here"
An insightful, comprehensive, and well-researched analysis of Beyoncé’s Lemonade as an Afrofuturistic work of musical literature.

Judges: Julia Carlson, Lee Person