Winona Creative Prize announces winners

Sydney Mohr, Features Editor

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The Winona Prize in Creative Writing is a Winona State University Foundation event that invites students across the university to submit their work into three different categories (fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction) for a chance to win $1,500. This prize was donated by an anonymous donor and has been in participation for many years.

  The guidelines for submitting to this contest are as follows: “Contestants must be an undergraduate student enrolled full-time and in good standing at Winona State University (minimum of 12 credits per semester, fall and spring).”

The other catch is a few of the requirements. While students from all majors and disciplines are encouraged to apply, students must have completed a creative writing course at Winona State.

The manuscripts that come into the contest are read by the creative writing faculty, then final choices are chosen by visiting writers, who this year were from the John S. Lucas Great River Reading Series and “other acclaimed authors published in the appropriate genre.”

Caitlyn Salinas, a sophomore English major, was the creative non-fiction category winner for this year. The piece she wrote was written for her non-fiction prose class back in the fall, and her professor, Debra Cumberland, suggested she submit it to the contest.

“I was excited. Dr. Cumberland asked if I would like to submit it, but I really didn’t think much about it until it was announced I won,” Salinas said.

Salinas said she wants to focus on all types of writing in her career, ranging from tech writing, friction and non-fiction prose and drama. She said she is hoping to become an editor or a fiction writer once she graduates.

Her non-fiction story was based off her family heritage, and how it is not something you see every day.

“I’m very excited about it. The story is about my heritage, Spanish and Italian, about cultural diversity, how I want to make the point that America has been a melting pot of diversities,” Salinas said. “I’m excited about this message being communicated through the community in Winona.”

Along with winning the $1,500 prize, Salinas will have her work published in the Satori, the English magazine that publishes every spring.

The second winner, Audrianna Wichman, took home the title for the other two categories, fiction and poetry. Wichman is a senior majoring in literature, language and writing. She had written her pieces for a poetry class and short story class.

“The classes were taught by Armstrong and Oness. They definitely encouraged me to submit. I think I would have submitted these pieces on my own, but having their support really motivated me to do it,” Wichman said.

After submitting to the prize for three years, Wichman said she was elated to have won in not one, but two of the categories.

“I’m just so overjoyed because I’ve been submitting for years and nobody expects to win, and to win both at the same time is a surreal experience, and it makes me feel like I can go places with this,” Wichman said.

The winners were announced a few weeks ago by the creative writing faculty, and students should receive their prize shortly. They will also be honored at the English banquet/Satori launch on April 26, where they will be able to read their poems and stories to a large audience.

“I would encourage future students to submit because it’s so rewarding to know that your art can be recognized. Never feel like your art is not good enough. It is and it’s valued.” Wichman said. “Also, submit to the Satori. They are always looking for new writers and works.”