(Scroll down to see winners and finalists from previous years!)
2013 Flash Fiction and Essay contest prompts
As part of the National Day on Writing celebration, the UCEW will host two writing contests—a flash fiction contest and an essay contest. Entries to these contests are due to the corresponding email address, NDOWFiction@gmail.com or NDOWEssay@gmail.com , no later than NOON on Friday, October 11th.
2013 FLASH FICTION CONTEST:
Compose an original story of 250-750 words. Stories will be evaluated on subject, content, and technical aspects.
The winning participants at the graduate and undergraduate levels will be invited to read their stories at the National Day on Writing evening reading to take place outside the UCEW on Thursday, October 17th.
The first-place winners in each category will be published in the FAU literary magazine, Coastlines, and receive a $50 prize disbursed to students’ Financial Aid account.
Entries should be submitted by NOON on Friday, October 11th
to NDOWFiction@gmail.com. Stories cannot have been previously published. All entries should include the student’s name, Z number, standing (graduate or undergraduate), and contact information.
2013 ESSAY CONTEST:
The social nature of writing seeks to make a connection between people, and our access to technology makes seeking connections more convenient than ever. That is why the National Council of Teachers of English and its supporters have declared the theme of the fifth annual National Day on Writing as “Write2Connect.”
In the spirit of this theme of connection, we invite you to participate in an essay contest that asks you to think in particular about our connections and technology.
Psychologist and sociologist Sherry Turkle has been studying how technology changes not only what we do but who we are. Social media, she suggests, are technologies that propose themselves "as the architect of our intimacies." Yet what often draws people to such technologies is the illusion of companionship without the demands of intimacy.
However, online postings and sharing are not the same as authentic communication. They don’t really work for learning about or coming to know and understand one another. It is through conversations with each other that we learn to have conversations with ourselves. If we shy away from conversation, we can compromise our capacity for self-reflection.
Turkle believes that using technology to make connections appeals to us where we are vulnerable: we are lonely, but we’re afraid of intimacy. “[we’re] designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. We turn to technology to help us feel connected in ways we can comfortably control.” The problem is that if you don't cultivate the capacity for solitude, the ability to be separate, to gather yourself, then you will end up isolated. We think that being always connected is going to make us feel less alone. But we're at risk, because actually it's the opposite that's true. If we're not able to be alone, we're going to be more lonely. We need to start thinking of solitude as a good thing.
These things matter because Turkle believes that we are setting ourselves up for trouble not only in how we relate to one another, but also trouble in how we relate to ourselves and our capacity for self-reflection. The irony is that “you can end up hiding from each other, even as we're all constantly connected to each other.”
In a sense, technology is presenting us with an opportunity. As digital technology makes a “bid to redefine human connection-- how we care for each other, how we care for ourselves,” it is giving us the chance to affirm our values and our direction.
Given these ideas, write an essay in which you:
Consider how our use of technology has the ability to influence the ways we make connections with one another. Does our ability to use technology to not only choose to connect, but also how we connect impact the quality of our relationships or our ability to be alone? What are some ways that we might reshape how we build and use technology so as to be better able to be negotiate our need for both connection and solitude?
Evaluation and Requirements:
Essays will be evaluated based on quality of writing and originality of thought. Essays should not exceed 1000 words and should be original, unpublished work that demonstrates fresh, clear thinking and superior quality of expression and craftsmanship. A response to this prompt is consistent with the style guide of choice (MLA, APA, etc.).
The winning participants at the graduate and undergraduate levels will be invited to read excerpts from their essays at the National Day on Writing evening reading to take place outside the UCEW on Thursday, October 17th.
The top winner from each category will receive a $50.00 prize disbursed to students’ Financial Aid account.
Entries should be submitted by NOON on Friday, October 11th to NDOWEssay@gmail.com. All entries should include the student’s name, Z number, standing (graduate or undergraduate), and contact information.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2012 National Day on Writing Contests! A special thanks as well to Coastlines literary magazine for publishing the winning entries in each category. Winners and finalists are listed below along with excerpts from their pieces.
Flash Fiction Contest
Graduate Winner: Megan Hesse, "The Hole"
It was down the street and through the alley and squeezed between two buildings of tall and dirty brick in the middle of the city and the middle of nowhere and no one had noticed it but him. There was a rusted metal stump that a handrail had once grown out of and a flight of cracked concrete steps leading down, down into darkness. He'd been crouched there, the boy, his eyes puffy and his lip bloody and had seen the hole, had wondered at its innocent strangeness. ...
Graduate Finalist: Conner Boyle, "Things Were Different"
Doctor Sullivan had been the town physician since the forties. He did everything. Whatever the result, his patients always thanked him like he was a blessing from God. His sole advertisement was a crooked little sign he'd nailed to the tree in front of his office. That was a long time ago. ...
Graduate Finalist: Donovan Ortega, "Auld Lang Syne"
I swing open the gate and there is my father. He sits beside a fire pit he must have dug that evening. The fire is very low and through the pine trees of the yard, I can see his silhouette flicker against the wooden fence, his face lit by the dark fire. Then the gate clanks behind me and he looks up. With his hand, he beckons me toward the fire. I walk toward his hulking figure hesitantly, letting my fingers graze the pine trees as I pass them. When I am upon my father and the fire pit, I notice there is a bottle lying underneath his chair and his face is flush. I sit in a chair across from him and feel a tinge of pleasure to have come home from a party and find my ordinarily pious father in such a state. We are both drunk. ...
Graduate Finalist: Phil Mazzeo, "Your Lungs are Burning, but Your Mouth is Sown Shut"
Stuck in a slipstream dream, but at sixteen, he doesn't know anything about sleep paralysis. Paralysis from the Latin: Loss of use of one's muscles or another part of one's body; Sleep, from the Germanic: Unconscious, recuperative state regularly and naturally assumed, during which the activity of the nervous system is almost or entirely suspended. Almost suspended. Almost, from the uncertain, meaning sometimes your brain wakes before your body; it leaves you vegetative, but contemplative, a coma patient without the comforting beeps of heart rate monitors or family member to tell you that it will all be ok, in the end; it leaves you full of screams of frustration and terror and confusion, yet unable to cry out, like a half-Black-half-White teenage girl in 1950s Mississippi. ...
Undergraduate Winner: Amanda Brahlek, "The Gold Rush"
The green fluorescent light snapped, reminding Neil that his Siamese fighting fish, Lou, hadn't gotten his dinner. On a kitchen shelf, the fish pirouetted as Neil approached with a tiny canister of shrimp-flavored betta pellets. The fish was Neil's only companion in his South Florida apartment.
"Hungry, aren't you," Neil asked Lou.
Neil crouched down to eye level with the red-flamingo dancing fish. "You're supposed to be intimidating," he chuckled, thinking about how elegantly Lou's skirt fluttered. ...
Undergraduate Finalist: Lisette Alonso, "What it's Like"
"What does it feel like?" we ask her
Lina Guerra is the first girl we know who isn't a virgin. Her boyfriend Carlos is seventeen and drives a beat up Ford Escort with a cracked windshield. He has a day job and a patchy beard and dropped out of high school the year before when he got his driver's license. ...
Undergraduate Finalist: Sasha Krawczyk, "Happenstance"
Today is the day that I decide to exist. Today is the day I wake up with a purpose and a smile as wide as Tennessee spread across my face perfectly -- glossed lips (because on days like this, the body and makeup cooperate, of course). This morning my alarm isn't an incessant, whining child who nags at my eyelids to snap open -- no, not at all -- this morning my alarm is a friendly reminder of how today, I am showing up. How today, I am not a thirty-something woman with a college degree in Peace and Media Studies and therefore recently unemployed, for crying out loud. How today, the two crows that place their feet in the outside corners of my eyes flutter away and out of my apartment window with a wave of my magic cosmetic wand. ...
Undergraduate Finalist: Kristina Forman, "The Black Rose"
The brass bell chimed as the cafe door was opened; a weary looking man stepped in. He was huddled over a leather box that he held under his left arm, trying to shield it from the pouring rain. Trudging his way over to a nearby booth,he clutched the box tightly to his side. The slick leather soles of his mud-stained loafers squelched against the linoleum, each step echoing throughout the nearby vacant establishment. The cafe's only other occupants being an elderly man slowly sipping his coffee at the adjacent counter, and the waitress, cleaning glasses with a dishrag only a few feet away. With a grunt, the man in the trench coat plopped himself down and placed his box in the table in front of him, removing his hat and his coat, which were soaked from rain, and dropping them unceremoniously to the space beside him on the booth seat. He sighed heavily, resting his elbows on the table; his hands entangling in his thinning, wet curls. ...
Thank you to all who participated in the National Day on Writing 2011 Writing Contests. It was difficult, but the judges have determined the top three winners in each category. Winners are listed below along with excerpts from their pieces.
2011 Flash Fiction Contest Winners
1. "Where You Have Yet to Go" by Amanda Schoen
Milo's shadow spilled across the threshold where his feet refused to tread. He hovered at the border between the bedroom and the hall, arms folded like a shield while he watched me empty the contents of the second drawer into my duffel. Why he felt compelled to stand vigil, I couldn't say. In case you get any wild ideas about packing up his things, too. But what would I steal? The busted lava lamp on the nightstand? It wouldn't glow anymore. The globs just drifted listlessly through dark waters, sometimes merging together, more often breaking apart.
2. "H" by Amanda Brahlek
It was rush-hour – prime-time on the median. Rush-hour meant people with jobs. People with jobs meant money, and that is exactly what he needed. He was young, maybe twenty-five, but his reflection in car windows appeared much older; his skin was leather – parched and folded into wrinkles surrounding his clouded blue eyes. The weather was humid and the air hung heavy, but his rigid body shivered, making his skin itch. All around him the street lights changed: green, yellow, red. The sky slowly changed; orange, red, violet.
3. "As of Yet, Untitled" by Richard Zullo
My father would want me to be an attorney like him. He'd want me to read detective fiction and play on the baseball team. He'd suggest clothes and hairstyles so that I can impress the pretty cheerleader from the "right type of family" who, like my own mother in her day, is the desire of every young man on the college campus. He'd encourage me to take the lucrative job offer from the big, national law firm so I can afford the garish McMansion in the private golf community. He'd praise my long hours and would wink and look away when he suspects I'm padding the invoices to inflate the bottom line. Finally, he'd offer his sympathy when he learns of my impending divorce and dismissal from the firm due to an unhealthy affinity for expensive scotch and young paralegals.
2011 Position Paper Contest Winners
1st: Tabitha Lynn Zangre
A sense of community on any college campus is largely aided by a sense of shared pride amongst students. Ages, majors, ethnicities and interests may vary greatly but the one thing everyone on campus has in common is the university they attend. A feeling of pride about the university acts as a connective tissue, creating a sense of community. Pride stems from tradition, and that is something FAU has lacked despite its 50 year presence in South Florida. The joke in the past has been that FAU stands for "find another university". This is a stigma that the administration is working hard to overcome.
2nd: Rhona Nain
...Furthermore, with such low number of students present within its organizations and clubs, FAU should implement a program (Student Involvement Program) geared solely toward demonstrating to students the significant benefits that are a direct correlation of student involvement. This program would cover topics ranging from the benefits of understanding diversity and the role it plays in society, the importance of student leadership and the idea that student involvement allows for a overall better college experience.
3rd: Caludia Kisielewicz
...To accommodate the growing student multiplicity, FAU strives to make diversity an initiative. FAU's Office of Multicultural Affairs, through the funding of student government, hosts a human relations and diversity training program once a month from 8:30am-5pm. Successful attendees receive a certificate of completion and earn .6 CEU's from FAU's Office of Professional Development (Office of Multicultural Affairs). This program assists students in exploring their personal and cultural identity, recognizing the language of stereotyping and its impacts, challenging bias, discrimination, and exploring the dynamics of power and privilege related to group identities (Office of Multicultural Affairs). The program celebrates the motto "We're All Together Different", which befittingly indorses a harmonious fusion of unity and individualism that needs to cohabit on all university campuses. As beneficial as it is, diversity training at FAU lacks accessibility and widespread influence because its workshop capacity limits to only 25 students per month and is entirely voluntary.
Thank you to all who participated in the National Day on Writing 2010 Writing Contests. Winners are listed below along with excerpts from their pieces.
Flash Fiction Contest Winners
1. "And the Record Plays a Song Unending" by Megan Joyce Hesse
“What’s your most favorite song ever?” the boy asks you, disrupting the musical silence to spit the question around the unlit cigarette dangling from his lips. You and the boy lie face up on the old carpet that was once a shade of sea foam blue-green so bright you’d get color spots in your eyes if you looked at it too hard, but now is just the color of a dirty ocean at dusk, patched with stains from parties long past. . . .
2. "Rain Noir" by Laura Gomez Campuzano
. . .The pitter-patter of rain mimics the sounds of an ambulance in the distance. How would Van Gogh feel if he looked through the glass and saw the fluid strokes of rain reveal the essence of the world to him? How would he feel about the blues and shaded hues of flashing lights, and the greens and whites of the ambulance? Would he cut his other ear off or would he pull a brush from his pocket and tap at the glass like needlework to add something of his own? . . . . Perhaps he would add more traffic, or maybe a cypress tree or two somewhere in a backdrop off the road; perhaps he would use a more dramatic palette to dab the wreck into the picture the wipers keep trying to shake off or perhaps not. Perhaps he would dedicate a few brush strokes to a speck of white over the blurry outline of a stretcher; perhaps not. . .
3. "The Fall" by Valerie Mamarill Andrada
You think to yourself, this is something I thought I would never do. But there you are, the toes of your shoes dangling off the edge of the soggy wooden bridge. You feel the cold air go through your lungs. . .. You hear the rush of the water below the bridge. . . . You begin to have a salty taste in your mouth like blood, but it can’t be. It is cold outside you can see it by the snow on the adjacent mountains, but you can’t feel it. You are numb, but not from the cold. . .
Persuasive Letter to FAU President Contest Winners
1st: Christopher McClain
In this economy, many veterans who want to use the GI Bill move back in with their parents after being discharged in order to save money while going to school. . . . What I am asking of you, Dr. Saunders, is to consider making the Yellow Ribbon Program available, or implement a residency exception for veterans in this position to help ease the burden of non-resident charges. . . . It would be an extraordinary goodwill gesture toward former service members attending FAU.
2nd: Dr. Joyce Salomon
I am concerned about students who want to, or have returned to college after a long absence. . . . How many of them have been too intimated by the technology or the isolating age difference to actually pursue their needs? Dr. Saunders, I propose that the university supply names of volunteer mentors for students who are returning to academia after a long absence. . . . New, mature students would be able to reach out to them as a source of information as well as a familiar face in a sea of strangers. . . . Also, it would be gratifying to be a mentor and share my experience and knowledge that I have gained with other students.
3rd: Professor Tsung-Chow Su
Our educational needs are greater than ever, but funding for education has diminished. We need to do more with less. One potential solution is to use technology in the form of e-learning. E-learning is critical to the future of our university, yet prior to your arrival has not received the attention it deserves. I hope to spark interest in e-learning at the graduate level, focusing in the beginning at the master’s and professional level.