2014 Creative Writing Contest Winners Announced

Cal Poly’s English Department is proud to announce that English majors Erica London and MacKenzie Soldan have won the 2014 Al Landwehr Creative Writing Contest.

London’s poem “We Called It Dancing” and Soldan’s story “Reference” both took $100 first place prizes.

According to contest director Kevin Clark, both writers demonstrate surprising maturity of craft.

“Erica’s poem is a pantoum, which repeats key lines in surprising ways,” he said. “Though only an undergraduate, she understands how to maintain tone and theme within the strict confines of the form.”

Poetry judge Dustin Stegner said that "‘We Called It Dancing’" evokes soulful, timeless images of love, passion, and music in a fresh way.” He too went on to praise her use of form.  “Her work shows how poetic form intensifies rather than limits the exploration of such themes.”

Clark also said that MacKenzie Soldan is already highly accomplished in the art of fiction.

“MacKenzie is a recent transfer, so winter quarter was only second quarter at Cal Poly. She has innate storytelling ability.”

 Fiction judge Jonathan Gotsik is very impressed “by Soldan’s ability to create a believable speculative world subtly and organically, through the use of neologisms and seamless description.”

Poets Lauren Henley and Kara Erickson won second and third place respectively. Rhiannon Kelly and Kaye Richardson earned second and third in fiction.

All six winners will receive prize money, half of which is donated by poet and Poly grad Jocelyn Knowlton as well as her husband Bruce Knowlton of Knowlton Brothers Furniture in Nipomo.

Editors choices were also announced. Tim Atwood, Allie Rogge, and Eli Williams were chosen in poetry, and Alicia Freeman, Jonathan Maule, and Frances Wiese were chosen in fiction.

Named in honor of Al Landwehr, the nationally published, much loved creative writing professor who started the contest in the seventies, the competition is open to all students registered at Cal Poly.

Two separate English faculty judging committees, one for poetry and one for fiction, read the entries blind. This year, professors John Bartel, Brad Campbell, and Dustin Stegner judged the poetry, while professors Carol Curiel, Erin Martin-Elston, and Jonathan Gotsick judged the fiction.

The students will read from their winning works and receive their prizes at the annual Creative Writing Contest Awards Reading, held later in May. The poems and stories will be published in Cal Poly’s literary annual Byzantium, which will be available free that night.

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