2022: Four STUdents Honored with Annual Prizes in Creative Writing

Salima Tourkmani-MacDonald, Sorcha Beirne, Tiger Levi, and Lindsay Ogg can all count themselves as award-winning writers. The four students are this year’s recipients of STU’s prizes in creative writing. Tourkmani-MacDonald was awarded the Casto Prize for Poetry, Beirne received the David Adams Richards Prize for Prose, and both Levi and Ogg earned the Velensky Prize for All Genres.

Robert Clayton Casto Prize for Poetry

Tourkmani-MacDonald submitted a triad of poems: “Sundown Town,” “Tallahatchie River,” and “You Don’t Talk Black.” The adjudicators said her original similes and metaphors produce precise, vivid imagery that brings color to conventionally whitewashed histories. “You Don’t Talk Black” received special recognition as a perceptive portrait of racial hybridity in New Brunswick.

The soon-to-be English and Creative Writing honors graduate said her poems focus on Blackness, and draw from her own personal experiences as well as historical events.

“The first two poems are meant to remind readers of the aftereffects of segregation and slavery, and to emphasize the importance of keeping historical figures like Emmett Till alive in our memory. “You Don’t Talk Black” describes my experiences as a biracial woman growing up in New Brunswick, a predominantly white province,” Tourkmani-MacDonald said.

This is the first award Tourkmani-MacDonald has won for her poetry.

“I’m honored. To me, winning this award reinforces the value of creative expression.”

Tourkmani-MacDonald will be starting her master’s in creative writing at the University of Toronto in the fall.

David Adams Richards Prize for Prose

Beirne’s short story “Gutting Fish” was recognized by the adjudicators for her complex narrative and fine descriptions.

The third-year English and Sociology student said her story is “a character study as the narrator reflects on events that are seemingly very ordinary—like catching a fish or going home with a stranger.”

“Those events become complicated and strange as they are experienced. The simplicity of everyday events is undermined by human experience and thought, and complicated by location and power dynamics,” Beirne said.

David Velensky Prize in Any Genre

Levi and Ogg share the Velensky prize. Levi was recognized for a triptych of poems: “Centerville, Columbia Falls, Maine,” “Daily Routine,” and “The Changing Seasons,” which portray a devastating portrait of addiction. Ogg’s winning novel excerpt titled “I Deserve This: Pro or Con,” with lively interactions between characters was called “simply charming” by the adjudicators.

Levi said his poems are inspired by experiences from his personal life, including his relationships with his parents and his own struggles with addiction early on in life.

“Winning this award means the world to me. Five years ago, I started writing poetry on napkins and empty order tabs in a bar on Friday nights. To be able to counteract those rather lonely experiences with the honor of obtaining this award is truly amazing,” he said.

Levi is in his fourth-year and majoring in Native Studies with a minor in English. A Mi’kmaq student from Elsipogtog, NB, Levi will graduate next year.

Ogg said her novel excerpt was a revision of an assignment for her creative writing class. The third-year student, from North Wiltshire, PE, said she tries to write what she knows, so her story focuses on living with anxiety and self-doubt. Ogg said she also enjoys quirky romance stories, so she incorporated some of those elements into her story of her.

“This award is a nice reminder that I am good enough to be here doing this.”

Ogg is double-majoring in English and Fine Arts.

“I’m happy to participate in the industry in any way I can; I just love the arts.”

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