Wheaton College’s 2016 Lowell-Grabill Creative Writing Contest included a special award in memory of associate professor of English Brett Foster, a Wheaton faculty member and poet-in-residence until his death last year. The English department hosted the contest’s award ceremony on Tuesday, April 5.
The winners paid tribute to Foster, who used to host the Lowell-Grabill Contest. Senior Namrata Geisinger, who considered Foster a mentor, won the Brett Foster Prize in Poetry for her poem “To Dr. Foster, Yours Fondly.” Her poem ends with a line that she believes captures Foster: “You made all things beautiful and simple in your time.”
Senior Shyanne Figueroa Bennett explained that, although she did not submit her first-place poem, “What Is Left,” until this semester, “it was a conversation with Professor Foster (last spring) that gave me the push I needed.”
The finalists, chosen by the English department, attended a master class taught by Bruce Guernsey, a professor of creative writing and American literature from Eastern Illinois University, before the award ceremony.
Guernsey judged between the finalists and presented the awards. An accomplished poet, Guernsey also read from his latest anthology of poetry, “From Rain: Poems 1970 – 2010,” before the awards ceremony.
Senior Emily Sargent, who won first place in both fiction and creative nonfiction, said “it was a big honor to get the prize,” especially because she was impressed by the depth of skill and creativity her fellow students displayed in the finalists’ master class.
Guernsey presented nine awards in poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. In each genre, first place won $100, second place won $75 and third place won $50. As a friend of Foster, Guernsey sponsored the Brett Foster Prize in Poetry, which won a $100 prize.
Junior Anna Claire Gall won second place in poetry, and senior Joshua Moreno won third place. In fiction, sophomore Lydia Nelson was awarded second place and junior Ciera Horton third place. In nonfiction, sophomore ChinHsin Kao won second place and senior Aseye Agamah third place. Juniors Rebecca Fox and Hunter Hambrick received honorable mentions.