Frank H. Newell Creative Writing Prizes announced

Contact: Scott Nadelson

Winners of the third annual Newell prizes in short fiction selected by an award-winning novelist.

Thanks to a generous gift from alumnus Mr. Frank H. Newell, the English Department offers prizes for outstanding student work in short fiction to currently enrolled Willamette students. English Department faculty nominated stories produced in fall creative writing classes, and winners were selected by award-winning author Kim Culbertson, whose most recent novel is The Wonder of Us.


First place: "One Unanswered Question" by Lani Southern

Judge’s comments: Crisp and unique, Southern's clear voice rings through this rich character study. With lines like, "June was the sort of person who made fun of people who name their cars," this writer shows a magnetic ability to see things that aren't often seen -- and then detail them in finely-crafted prose.

Second place: "To My Younger Self" by Ivy Yeoh

Judge’s comments: "Mom is tired and Dad is gone." Lines like this one fuel Yeoh's super-charged voice from start to finish. "And if Mom wants to keep his picture up on the fridge after you break up, let her..." made me laugh out loud. Quirky, exacting, funny. This writer makes every word count right down to landing her perfect last line: "Adults use shower caddies."

Third place: TIE

"The End of a Sentence" by Sophie Smith

Judge’s comments: Mesmerizing, this story unfolded slowly, its sadness seeping into me. Smith sprinkles sentences like, "If we turn off our lantern, the sky turns into the universe, and we stare at the purple smudge of Milky Way..." throughout this heartbreaking coming-of-age love story, creating a sense of longing that lingered with me long after the last, sad line.

"Every Little Thing" by Claire Alongi

Judge’s comments: The lush description partnered with strong pacing pulled me into the intrigue of this painful world. From the foreshadowing of the father's jacket in the opening until the reveal at the end, the writer has full command of this voice, creating an authenticity that allowed me to feel the menace of this father and the reason for the haunting close.

Please be sure to congratulate these students when you see them on campus!

Prizes will be awarded at a ceremony later this spring.

About Frank H. Newell

Mr. Newell graduated from Willamette University in 1949, and subsequently enjoyed a 58-year run in the newspaper and broadcast business. He got his start at Salem’s Capital Journal, where he began in the advertising department. Over the years, he worked his way up through the ranks, and ultimately served as publisher of several news outlets across the nation over his long and successful career. Mr. Newell did not slow down in retirement, however, and at 93, saw his first novel published. He has long had a love for fiction writing, with a particular emphasis on short stories, and wants to foster this interest in future generations of Willamette University students.

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