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Stories and poems sought for ASU writing contest

previous Swarthout Award winners
February 27, 2015

Do you write fiction or poetry? Would you like to win more than $2,000 for one poem or story? Then mark your calendar for March 17, the deadline to submit your work to the annual Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout Awards in Writing. Arizona State University students campus-wide are invited to submit their stories and poems for consideration.

Previous winners of the award include Pulitzer Prize-winner Adam Johnson and Caitlin Horrocks, author of the acclaimed collection “This Is Not Your City.”

One of the top five creative writing prizes in America for undergraduate and graduate writers, the Swarthout Awards in Writing were established in 1962 by celebrated authors Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout. One hallmark of the awards is that they are open to students in all departments and schools at ASU, not just students from creative writing or English programs. Writers must be under age 26 by the submission deadline of 4 p.m. on March 17. A complete set of rules and guidelines can be found on the awards website.

According to Cynthia Hogue, a professor of English at ASU who holds the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry and directs the creative writing program, the Swarthout Awards Ceremony is a high point of the spring semester each year.

“What began over fifty years ago as a generous gift to Glendon Swarthout's former department – Swarthout made the remarkable move from English professor to best-selling author and Hollywood screenwriter – has now become the largest creative writing award given in the U.S. by a Department of English,” said Hogue.

“The pool includes both undergraduate and graduate students, and each year, faculty listen with profound pleasure and pride to the marvelous students we are privileged to teach at ASU,” Hogue added. "We honor the Swarthouts for their vision, generosity and continuing engagement in the well-being of creative writing at ASU.”

Journalism alumnus Adam Johnson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Orphan Master’s Son” and associate professor of English at Stanford University, won the Swarthout Award in fiction in 1992.

“Winning the Swarthout Prize as an undergraduate was my first validation that maybe this thing could happen, and so thanks to the Swarthouts for making that happen,” Johnson said.

Creative writing alumnus Shertok Lama, who won a fiction award in 2012, said, “Language is, Carole Maso says, 'a rose, opening.' In that sense, writers are gardeners, tilling the earth, raking the dirt with nails, watering the roots. Awards of this nature convince these gardeners that there are people out there who are equally concerned that this rose might not open, and encourage them to bloom one more flower.”

The Swarthout Awards in Writing are administered by the creative writing program in the Department of English, an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU.

Written by Corey Campbell