June 20, 2007

Two students capture top Young Writers honor

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Two recent high school graduates share top honors this year as winners of the Younkin-Rivera Prize for Young Writers at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Danielle Patrick of Energy won with her poem, "Train Ride." Patrick recently graduated from Herrin High School. Maria Romasco-Moore of Athens, Ohio, formerly of Altoona, Pa., was the prose winner with her story, "The Car of the Future." She recently graduated from Altoona Area High School in Pennsylvania. Both young writers are 18 years old, and, coincidentally, share a birthday. Each receives a $250 award and free registration for the Young Writers Workshop, which runs from June 27 to 30 at SIUC.

The four-day workshop, led by renowned poet Allison Joseph in the Department of English, is open to high school sophomores, juniors and seniors. Joseph described the workshop as "short, intense and affordable." Each day includes two sessions of poetry or fiction writing and then a choice of "mini-classes" which target specific writing challenges or styles. There are also graduate student readings and faculty or guest readings each day and computer time for students to type, edit and print. Joseph said the evenings generally conclude with informal "open mic" readings at the residence halls. The fee for the workshop is $250 inclusive.

Joseph is the director and founder of the Young Writers Workshop. She is also head of the master of fine arts program in creative writing. The Younkin-Rivera awards are open to creative writers ages 15 to 18. They are in memory of Brad Younkin and Roxana Rivera, former students in SIUC's MFA-creative writing program. Both died in separate car accidents in 2003.

The guest and faculty readings during the workshop are open to the public. Here is the schedule.

• Wednesday, June 27, 8 p.m., in the Harry T. Moore Auditorium, Faner Hall 1326 – Faculty reading by Pinckney Benedict. Benedict joined the SIUC faculty in 2006. He is the author of two collections of short stories – "Town Smokes" and "The Wrecking Yard" – and a novel, "Dogs of God." His work appears in anthologies and magazines including Esquire, StoryQuarterly, The O. Henry Award Collection and The Oxford Book of American Short Stories.

• Thursday, June 28, 4 p.m., in Faner Hall, Room 1005 – Graduate student readings featuring poetry by Sara Burge and fiction by Nathan Beck, Rachna Sheth and Renee Evans.

• Thursday, June 28, 8 p.m., in the Harry T. Moore Auditorium, Faner Hall 1326 – Graduate student and faculty reading, featuring MFA students Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum and Kerry James Evans with poetry and John Flaherty with fiction, and poetry from Allison Joseph.

• Friday, June 29, 4 p.m., in the Harry T. Moore Auditorium, Faner 1326 – Graduate student reading with fiction from Josh Woods and Mary Keck and poetry from Helena Bell and Tracy Conerton.

• Friday, June 29, 8 p.m., in the Harry T. Moore Auditorium, Faner 1326 – Guest reader Curtis L. Crisler. Crisler graduated from the MFA program at SIUC and served as assistant director of the workshop. Front Street Press published his first book of poems, "Tough Boy Sonatas," this year. He currently teaches in Fort Wayne, Ind.