2015 Landwehr Creative Writing Contest Winners Announced

Cal Poly English major Rhiannon Kelly and manufacturing engineering major Kory Barri won the university’s 2015 Al Landwehr Creative Writing Contest.

Kelly’s story “Richard” and Barri’s poem “Sand Castles” each won $100 first-place prizes and will appear in the Cal Poly literary magazine Byzantium, co-edited in 2015 by English students Monique Nicholas and Adrienne King.

English Professor Kevin Clark said Kelly is already highly accomplished in creating interesting points-of-view in her stories. Nicholas was moved by “the mix of heart-warming, deeply self-reflective characters that leave the reader yearning for more” in “Richard.”

Clark said that Barri’s poem is quite unusual in today’s era of free verse. “‘Sand Castles’ is written in an unexpectedly complex and effective rhyming form,” he said.

“It’s not surprising that he’s an engineering major and an English minor,” Clark continued. “The poem uses the structure of a house as a metaphor for human consciousness. It’s quite something.”

King said “Sand Castles” was “all the more exquisite for utilizing a formal rhyme scheme while remaining free-flowing in spirit and imagery.”

English students Keith Enterante and Bailey Satterfield earned second and third place in fiction. Poets Dominique Pierce and Hannah Wertzberger, both English majors, won second and third place respectively. All winners earn cash prizes.

The co-editors said Enterante’s story is a “disturbingly beautiful portrayal of how a mentally unstable high school student deals with a twin brother with Down Syndrome.” They described Satterfield’s story as “a troubled young drug addict surviving the nostalgia brought forth by the Christmas season.” 

They also stated that Pierce’s poem establishes “loving a city as a metaphor for tracing notions of rebellion and independence,” while Wertzberger’s poem “details a journey to Big Sur, evoking nostalgia and a deep feeling of connection to nature.”

Editors’ choice winners were English majors Evan Falkenthal and Kelsy Koenig in poetry and English major Mackenzie Soldan and business administration major Connor Edwards in fiction.

Two separate faculty judging committees, one for poetry and one for fiction, read the entries blind. Professors Jennifer Ashley, Sean Green and Anthony Halderman judged fiction entries; professors Brad Campbell, John Bartel and Megan Lancaster judged poetry.

The students will read their winning works and receive prizes at the annual Creative Writing Contest Awards Reading in May. The 2015 issue of Byzantium will premiere that night.

Sponsored by the English Department, the annual contest is named in honor of Cal Poly English Professor Emeritus Al Landwehr, a nationally published and much loved creative writing professor who started the contest in the 1970s. The competition is open to all students registered at Cal Poly.

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