With great pride, the English Department would like to announce the 2017/2018 winners of the Engage Writing Contest. We were struck by the way each writer's voice comes through in their writings in unique and powerful ways. With gravitas, power, and insight, these writers explore matters personal as well as universal.
Below, you will find excerpts from their submissions, and if you click on the titles, you can read their full works. Congratulations, winners! Thank you for your dedication to the craft.
1st Place: Zachary Schondelmayer
"You need to understand that when I write on these subjects or speak on these times, I must essentially revisit the place or experience, and that has a strange biological effect on me. I can feel the darkness and disconnection from all the world, and it’s a deeply hopeless place I worked hard to block out. But for the sake of this piece, and for my own peace, I will walk back into the valley…
I don’t recall our task on this mission, but it took us down some of the worst roads, if you can even call them that. They were trails, and the potholes weren’t scarce. I was oriented in my gunners hatch at the 9:00 with mostly just desert land and occasional palm trees and grape fields when first I saw, then heard, the mortar land. I jumped on the radio 'ONE O’CLOCK ONE HUNDRED METERS MORTAR FIRE!'"
2nd Place: Raina Malley
"Americans do not seem to recognize that activity and freedom can actually result in achieving important goals, when students are guided and directed in a conducive environment. Perhaps it is the American tradition of a competitive economy, industrialization, or survival-of-the-fittest, that creates this automatic reliance on checklists and factory-style educational development. Regardless, it has been proven that the opposite approach can work. Americans need to become more open-minded and willing to consider the methods of education that are actually yielding the best results, even if at first they do not sound plausible."
3rd Place: Steven Duchnowski
"I realized then she wasn’t coming for me, in an empty schoolyard after hours, waiting. My eyes wandered some and observe the way Teacher holds her cigarette, gentle but firm, with a desperate inhale and trembling exhale; how the end burns like a brilliant sun and leaves feeble ash behind. Soon after a habitual flick of the finger she sucked down another drag, eyes deep and dull, red and raw. What is it that ails this woman? I wondered.
'Did your mother say she was doing anything today?' She asked in that bleak lifeless voice, flicked the remainder of the cigarette into the dry autumn leaves, as I too remained entranced by that orange light, how it moved and left a stretch of black behind, like headlights cutting through the darkness."